Lady Killer

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Average Rating: 3.6/5

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Movie Info

We first lay eyes on Jimmy Cagney in Lady Killer while he's working as a movie theater usher. This job lasts just long enough for Jimmy to be swindled in a "badger game" orchestrated by hard-boiled Mae Clarke and a gang of crooks headed by Douglass Dumbrille. Knowing a good thing when he sees it, Cagney joins the mob, and soon is calling the shots. But though he's got larceny in his soul, Cagney draws the line at murder, and when gang member Raymond Hatton is bumped off, Cagney and Clarke board the Super Chief and head to California. With the cops laying for Cagney in LA, he's suspicious of everyone. A shifty-looking mug (William B. Davidson) takes after Cagney on the street; catching up to the winded Cagney, the mug explains that he's a movie director, and that Cagney is a perfect "type" for an upcoming prison picture. After several months as a bit player, Cagney befriends good-natured movie-star Margaret Lindsay, who encourages Cagney to seek out bigger parts. The enterprising Cagney engineers a phony fan-mail campaign encouraging the studio to give him starring roles. Though now a slick, pomaded romantic lead in pictures, Cagney is still Cagney; when a snooty critic pans Lindsay's most recent performance, Cagney forces the reviewer to literally eat his words! It must needs be that Cagney's old gang shows up in Hollywood, planning to use Cagney's influence to gain entree into movie stars' mansions, then steal their valuables. Cagney says ixnay to this, so the mob schemes to take him for a ride. Tipped off by Clarke, Cagney is able to rout the crooks, save the day, and claim Lindsay for his bride. Lady Killer is vintage Cagney, throwing virtually every one of his star-making attributes (including one cute reference to his legendary "grapefruit scene" in 1931's Public Enemy) into one entertaining 76-minute stew.

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James Cagney
as Dan Quigley
Margaret Lindsay
as Lois Underwood
Mae Clarke
as Myra Gale
Marjorie Gateson
as Mrs. Wilbur Marley
Robert Elliott
as Brannigan
John Marston
as Kendall
Douglas Dumbrille
as Spade Maddock
George Chandler
as George Thompson
George Blackwood
as The Escort
Jack Don Wong
as Oriental
Frank Sheridan
as Los Angeles Police Chief
Edwin Maxwell
as Jeffries, theater manager
Phil Tead
as Usher Sargeant Seymour
Dewey Robinson
as Movie fan
Harry C. Bradley
as Man with Purse
Harry Holman
as J.B. Roland
Harry Beresford
as Dr. Crane
Harry Strang
as Ambulance Attendant
Al Hill
as Casino Cashier
Dennis O'Keefe
as Man in casino
James Burke
as Hand-out
Clarence Wilson
as Dan's Lawyer
Spencer Charters
as Los Angeles Cop
Herman Bing
as Western director
Harold Waldridge
as Letter-handler
Luis Alberni
as Director
Ray Cooke
as Property Man
Sam Ash
as Hood
Grace Hayle
as Fat Woman with Dog
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Critic Reviews for Lady Killer

All Critics (4)

Audience Reviews for Lady Killer

A very funny pre-code movie with a great performance from Cagney. If you're a fan of his, don't miss this movie.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


Lady Killer is either a comedy that wants to be a gangster picture or a gangster picture that wants to be a comedy. It never really executes the combination of the two smoothly and the best you really get is a mess with a handful of amusing moments--one of which features monkeys trashing a party. James Cagney definitely has fun with the comedic side of the role while taking breaks playing his trademarked tough guy persona by giving Mae Clarke and arguably deserved tough time. The rest of the cast kind of falls to the wayside but even if you're not impressed, all you lost out on is an hour and 15 minutes of your life.

Michael Gildea
Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

james cagney teams up with his "public enemy" costar mae clarke, the wretched woman who gets slapped with a grapefruit by cagney, in the gangster slapstick"lady killer". conventionally, hollywood favors to categorize women into the dichotomy. since clarke is the bandit moll who doublecrosses cagney, magret lindsay would be the mighty dame with heart of gold to accompany cagney thru the odds. cagney plays a regular sap who encounters the bandit moll mae clarke who literally makes a living by deceiving men into her apartment's gambling racket. then cagney robs the joint as his own to make big dough, but ill-fatedly the gang gets caught by police due to misfire. consequentially cagney elopes with clarke to california, but their escape still leads to jail. and clarke cheats his five grands instead of bailing him out. later cagney gets spotted by film studio due to his vagabond rough looks, so he becomes a hollywood starlet who romances margaret lindsay (cagney's costar in "g men", the typecasting of flat good girl)...somehow his former gang schemes to trap him into the new how shall cagney untangle the mess and comes off clean? chauvinism seems unavoidable in the genre of gangsterism, particularly when it meets the magnitude of jimmy cagney who brazenly bares his misogynistic contempt thru domestic violence which was embraced with wholehearted welcome by the audience in the 30s. here cagney's character even drags mae clarke's hair then tosses her outside the door. clarke has been provided with more chances to demonstrate her sex appeal in this one but tragically she still falls as the prey of masculine abuse just like "public enemey" to form a demeaning but titillating effect to the audience. the production of "lady killer" seems crude as the vehicle for cagney, it's like the studio predicts that audience would go for any crap made of the public enemy persona, so this time they manufacture another version of cagney going legitimate as the conformed actor with a laughable mustache which apparently attempts to parody the mgm male stars. it contains every idiosyncratic cliche (or vice?) of the 1930s cinema, such as sexism, slumming, racketeering, hoodlum into nouveau riche...etc. it would probably takes a fan of cagney or an ardent admirer for the 30s like myself to appreciate "lady killer".

Veronique Kwak
Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer

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