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Jimmy Cagney's Birthday Salute


Janet0312
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Happy Birthday to the Best Leading Man that ever lived and a Great Human Being! I see TCM is showing many Pre-Code Cagney's. Thanks!! Many people never saw the Pre-Codes and other 30's Cagney films. Cagney was full of energy and very handsome/sexy! Janet, I'm guessing you just watched one of my favorites-Mayor of Hell. The first of it's kind that paved the way for films like Boys Town. Again Thanks TCM for remembering James on his 115th Birthday and for choosing the oldies but goodies!!! Carmela

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He is a true American Icon.  He is one of the finest actors to ever grace the silver screen.  My dad was a huge fan and it was through him I grew to love Cagney's work.  There was no one else like him.  He was a singular, unique talent.  That old worn out cliche perfectly describes Cagney, "They don't make em like they used to".  No, they sure don't.  Happy Birthday Jimmy... your fans will never forget you. 

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Did they really have reform schools back then? I remember my father threatening to send me to one when I was wicked, but I always thought it was just a bunch of hooey.

 

In the 30's there were reform schools,  German Bund summer camps in Long Island, and probably a few mental hospitals that were still called "Lunatic Asylums".  As the old cliche goes, the past is a foreign country.  And in some cases it isn't even past. B)

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Cagney was born in 1899.   When I had one of my first jobs writing software Cagney really messed with me.   You see the software was for medical billings.   There was a Date of Birth field but it was only a two byte (character), field.  So if someone was born in 1945 one would enter 45.   This date was used to derive the patient's age. 

 

 

 

Well the QA department came to me and said there was a bug in the software.   BUG?  I don't code bugs!   I checked the data and the date of birth was entered as 99 so the derived age was negative number.    I said to QA;  Someone entered the wrong date of birth.  They told me they entered the right one.  I asked them to show me the medical bill;  The patient was James Cagney,  his occupation was actor and he was injured while making his last movie Ragtime.    I had to update the software so that if the date of birth was greater than the current year,  we assumed the century was the prior century.

 

 

 

True story.   I made a copy of the medical bill because even in my 20s I was a 'classic' movie fan and big time Cagney fan.  But I told the President (since I was so happy to see his bill),  and he told me I had to destroy it.  I did since this was my first 'good' job and I didn't want to get fired.

 

 

 

I also saw the medical bills for Bing Crosby when he fell off the stage, Stella Stevens when she was making a mattress commercial and a spring poker her in the rear,  and Jane Fonda with a sprained ankle while making The China Syndrome.

 

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Along with James Cagney quite a number of important people in film were born in 1899 .  And that year also was of note for me personally, my grandmother was born in 1899. When I was a young boy she told me all I had to do to know her age was to look at the calendar year and add 1.  And her birthday was easy to remember too, she was born on June 21, the first day of summer. She died in 1980, I don't remember if there were ever any complications involving her and record keeping.  

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Cagney was full of energy 

 

Definitely.  Almost as if he couldn't contain himself.  In his earlier movies, he has a bantering, rakish, and playful style of acting that is truly delightful to see.  As if he was playing off the script, rather than from it.  It's why I prefer his earlier movies.  There were a few films in the line-up today I hadn't seen before.  I recorded them for later viewing.

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One indication of Cagney's greatness is that ALL cultures & ages love him. His performances are electric. I've shown 15 year olds Cagney movies and they are all drawn to him. Loaned Cagney movies to new immigrants from Liberia, and they "get" him too.

 

Pretty good for 70 year old b&w movies.

 

As for "they don't make 'em like that anymore"....there were very few of Cagney's contemporaries that even had his talent & charisma. Nowadays, all I see are "naturalistic" read "bland" performances in film, even among the best of them.

Thank goodness for the stage, where dramatic acting is kept alive.

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As for "they don't make 'em like that anymore"....there were very few of Cagney's contemporaries that even had his talent & charisma. Nowadays, all I see are "naturalistic" read "bland" performances in film, even among the best of them.

 

Cagney's talent and charisma were off the charts, but if you think that all recent actors are "bland", I'm not sure which ones you're referring to.  Certainly not Pacino, DeNiro or Daniel Day-Lewis, just to mention three of many.

 

Cagney was a product of his time and place, as are virtually all actors.  What makes him timeless is his talent, but I guarantee that people will be watching Godfather 2 and Goodfellas for just as long as they'll be watching The Public Enemy, and for the same reason:  They're all great movies.

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