James Cagney - Rotten Tomatoes

James Cagney

Highest Rated:   100% White Heat (1949)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   New York, New York, USA
With his raspy voice, and staccato vocal inflections James Cagney was one of the brightest stars in American cinema history. The son of an Irish father and a Norwegian mother who lived and worked in New York's Lower Eastside, Cagney did a variety of odd jobs to help support his family, including working as a waiter, and a poolroom racker, and even a female impersonator in a Yorkville revue. This humble beginning led to joining the chorus in the Broadway show Pitter-Patter, followed by a vaudeville tour with his wife Francis. By 1925, Cagney had begun to play Broadway leads; he was particularly successful in the musical Penny Arcade, which lead him to be cast in the Hollywood version, renamed Sinner's Holiday (1930). Within a year, Cagney had been signed by Warner Bros., where, in his fifth movie role, he played the ruthless gangster in Public Enemy, the 1931 film that made him a star. Cagney was a small, rather plain looking man, and had few of the external qualities usually associated with the traditional Hollywood leading man during the '30s. Yet, inside, he was a dynamo, able to project a contentious and arrogant confidence that made him the ideal Hollywood tough guy, the role in which he is best remembered. Of Cagney's energetic acting style, Will Rogers once said, "Every time I see him work, it looks to me like a bunch of firecrackers going off all at once." But Cagney was not content to simply play one type of role, and soon proved his range and versatility by appearing in musicals (Yankee Doodle Dandy [1942], for which he won an Oscar for his portrayal of George M. Cohen); Shakespearean drama (as Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream [1935]); and satire (as a gung-ho American businessman in One, Two, Three[1961]). Cagney even tried directing with Short Cut to Hell a remake of This Gun for Hire, but it was not a commercial success. He retired afterward -- publishing his autobiography, Cagney by Cagney in 1975 -- although continued to receive respect and adulation from his peers and the public. Fifteen years after retiring, Cagney was the first actor to receive the American Film Institute's Life Achievement Award. In 1980, he earned a similar award from Kennedy Center. And, in 1984, he received the U.S. government's highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom. Already suffering from diabetes, circulatory problems, and recurring strokes, Cagney's health began rapidly deteriorating in retirement. Although he had been refusing movie offers for years, his doctors finally convinced him that a little work would do him good. He made his critically acclaimed 1981 comeback playing a small, but crucial role in Milos Forman's Ragtime. This encouraged the aging actor to appear as a grumpy ex-prizefighter in a television movie Terrible Joe Moran in 1984. It was his final film; two years later, Cagney died of a heart attack on his isolated farm in upstate New York. At his funeral, longtime friend and colleague President Ronald Reagan delivered the eulogy, noting that "America lost one of her finest artists."

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet Mission Victory
  • Actor
2007
No Score Yet Amérique, notre histoire
  • Actor
2006
No Score Yet The Great American Songbook
  • Actor
2003
No Score Yet Battles of Reverence: World War II
  • Actor
2002
No Score Yet Hollywood Legends - Humphrey Bogart & James Cagney
  • Actor
2001
No Score Yet James Cagney Scrapbook
  • Actor
1998
No Score Yet That's Dancing!
  • Actor
1985
No Score Yet Dealers in Death: Murder and Mayhem in America
  • Actor
1984
90% Ragtime
  • Rheinlander Waldo
1981
No Score Yet James Cagney: That Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • Actor
1981
No Score Yet A.F.I. Life Achievement Awards - James Cagney
  • Actor
1974
No Score Yet Arizona Bushwhackers
  • Narrator
1967
94% One, Two, Three
  • C.R. MacNamara
1961
No Score Yet The Gallant Hours
  • Producer
  • Fleet Adm. William F. Halsey, Jr.
1960
60% Shake Hands With the Devil
  • Sean Lenihan
1959
No Score Yet Never Steal Anything Small
  • Jake MacIllaney
1959
80% Man of a Thousand Faces
  • Lon Chaney
1957
No Score Yet Short Cut to Hell
  • Director
1957
No Score Yet These Wilder Years
  • Steve Bradford
1956
No Score Yet Tribute to a Bad Man
  • Jeremy Rodock
1956
92% Mister Roberts
  • Capt. Morton
1955
No Score Yet The Seven Little Foys
  • George M. Cohan
1955
67% Love Me Or Leave Me
  • Marty Snyder
1955
No Score Yet The Christophers
  • Professor Graham
1955
No Score Yet Run for Cover (Colorado)
  • Matt Dow
1955
No Score Yet A Lion Is In The Streets
  • Actor
1953
No Score Yet A Lion Is in the Streets
  • Hank Martin
1953
50% What Price Glory?
  • Capt. Flagg
1952
No Score Yet Starlift
  • Guest Star
1951
No Score Yet Come Fill the Cup
  • Lew Marsh
1951
No Score Yet The West Point Story
  • Elwin 'Bix' Bixby
1950
No Score Yet Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
  • Ralph Cotter
1950
100% White Heat
  • Arthur Cody Jarrett
1949
No Score Yet The Time of Your Life
  • Joseph T. (who observes people)
1948
83% 13 Rue Madeleine
  • Robert Emmett 'Bob' Sharkey
1947
No Score Yet Blood on the Sun
  • Nick Condon
1945
43% Johnny Come Lately (Johnny Vagabond)
  • Tom Richards
1943
No Score Yet Great Guy
  • Johnny 'Red' Cave
1942
92% Yankee Doodle Dandy
  • George M. Cohan
1942
No Score Yet Captains of the Clouds
  • Brian MacLean
1942
100% The Strawberry Blonde
  • Biff Grimes
1941
No Score Yet The Bride Came C.O.D.
  • Steve Collins
1941
80% City for Conquest
  • Danny Kenny
1940
No Score Yet Torrid Zone
  • Nick Butler
1940
No Score Yet The Fighting 69th
  • Pvt. Jerry Plunkett
1940
No Score Yet Each Dawn I Die
  • Frank Ross
1939
100% The Roaring Twenties
  • Eddie Bartlett
1939
No Score Yet The Oklahoma Kid
  • Jim Kincaid
1939
67% Boy Meets Girl
  • Robert Law
1938
100% Angels with Dirty Faces
  • Rocky Sullivan
1938
No Score Yet Something to Sing About
  • Terry Rooney
1937
No Score Yet Mob
  • Actor
1937
No Score Yet Ceiling Zero
  • Dizzy Davis
1936
No Score Yet Frisco Kid
  • Bat Morgan
1935
94% Mutiny on the Bounty
  • Extra
1935
89% A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Bottom
1935
No Score Yet The Irish in Us
  • Danny O'Hara
1935
No Score Yet G-Men
  • 'Brick' Davis
1935
No Score Yet Devil Dogs of the Air
  • Thomas Jefferson 'Tommy' O'Toole
1935
No Score Yet The St. Louis Kid
  • Eddie Kennedy
1934
No Score Yet Here Comes the Navy
  • Chesty O'Connor
1934
No Score Yet He Was Her Man
  • Flicker Hayes
1934
No Score Yet Jimmy the Gent
  • 'Jimmy' Corrigan
1934
No Score Yet Musicals from Hollywood's Golden Age
  • Actor
1934
100% Footlight Parade
  • Chester Kent
1933
No Score Yet The Mayor of Hell
  • Patsy Gargan
1933
No Score Yet Picture Snatcher
  • Danny Kean
1933
No Score Yet Hard to Handle
  • Myron C. 'Lefty' Merrill
1933
No Score Yet Lady Killer
  • Dan Quigley
1933
No Score Yet Taxi!
  • Matt Nolan
1932
No Score Yet The Crowd Roars
  • Joe Greer
1932
No Score Yet The Crowd Roars
  • Actor
1932
No Score Yet Smart Money
  • Jack
1931
No Score Yet The Millionaire
  • Schofield, Insurance Salesman
1931
100% The Public Enemy
  • Tom Powers
1931
No Score Yet Other Men's Women
  • Ed 'Eddie' Bailey
1931
No Score Yet Blonde Crazy
  • Bert Harris
1931
No Score Yet Doorway to Hell
  • Steve Mileaway
1930
No Score Yet Golden Age of Musicals
  • Actor
1930
No Score Yet Busby Berkeley - The Busby Berkeley Disc
  • Actor

Quotes from James Cagney's Characters