Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Blonde Crazy

A few weeks back Blonde Crazy was on TCM. I was going to do a post on it then as I thought I had it on DVD courtesy of that Warner Gangsters collection I've mentioned several times. It's not in that box set, but it is in one of the Warner Bros.' Forbidden Hollywood pre-code sets, so I DVRed it and watched it to do a post now.

James Cagney plays Bert Harris, who at the start of the movie is a bellhop in a hotel in a smaller city somewhere. Anne (Joan Blondell) comes in looking for a job as a maid, and Bert is so smitten by her beauty that he tries to get her that job despite another bellhop already having put in a good word for his girlfriend. Anne doesn't particularly care for Bert at first, as seen by the fact that she slaps him on multiple occasions! But she gets the job.

Bert is a smooth operator, conning dishonest people and keeping a scrapbook of various con jobs. After conning dirty old traveling salesman Rupert (Guy Kibbee), and getting help from Anne, they move to the bigger time, where they meet Dapper Dan (Louis Calhern). Dan is much more worldly than Bert, and is able to fleece Bert with little difficulty. As a result, Anne leaves Bert when she meets nice stockbroker Joe (Ray Milland), this being the era when stockbrokers were part of high finance.

Bert plots revenge on Dan, and eventually gets it, while Anne learns that Joe isn't as nice as he seemed, having embezzled a large sum of money from the firm's safe. Anne convinces Bert to rob the rest of the items in the safe, the theory being that if everything is missing, then nobody will figure that there were two heists and Joe stole that money. Things don't quite work out as planned....

Blonde Crazy is a lot of fun, although it does begin to lose steam in the second half. The first half has, as I already mentioned, Blondell slapping Cagney. But it's also got a scene of Cagney asking Blondell where her half of the money they've "earned", and her, in the bathtub(!) telling him it's in her brassiere. Cagney then proceeds to examine Blondell's underwear!

If you want to have fun with a pre-Code, you could do a lot worse than James Cagney and Joan Blondell. I prefer some of their other work, but Blonde Crazy isn't bad at all.

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