James Cagney

Highest Rated: 100% White Heat (1949)
Birthday: Jul 17, 1899
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



No Score Yet Amérique, notre histoire Actor 2006
No Score Yet The Great American Songbook Actor 2003
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 Arizona Bushwhackers Narrator 1967
95% 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 Run for Cover (Colorado) Matt Dow 1955
No Score Yet The Christophers Professor Graham 1955
No Score Yet A Lion Is In The Streets Actor 1953
No Score Yet A Lion Is in the Streets Hank Martin 1953
57% 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
70% Boy Meets Girl Robert Law 1938
100% Angels with Dirty Faces Rocky Sullivan 1938
100% Something to Sing About Terry Rooney 1937
No Score Yet Ceiling Zero Dizzy Davis 1936
No Score Yet Frisco Kid Bat Morgan 1935
94% Mutiny on the Bounty Extra 1935
90% 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
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 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 Busby Berkeley - The Busby Berkeley Disc Actor