Picture Snatcher - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Picture Snatcher Reviews

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½ July 17, 2014
good pre-code actioner
½ June 17, 2013
As an ex-gangster trying to go straight in the newspaper biz, Cagney delivers another bold performance -- which is the main recommendation for 'Picture Snatcher'. Aside from its tabloid journalism hook, this is a pretty paint-by-numbers crime pic.
Super Reviewer
½ April 11, 2013
it's all about cagney. this is what he does best
March 26, 2013
Fun hour and change with Cagney and company...
February 12, 2013
Cagney steals the show yet again with a fantastic performance. Unfortunately, the film's plot was poorly designed (like many movies of the era): the plot doesn't know exactly where to go, so it goes too many places. If nothing else, entertaining.
June 19, 2012
A great energetic performance from James Cagney as an ex-con gangster who decides to go 'legit' by becoming a tabloid paper photographer. With his wits and connections, he is able to get in and around the places that other papers would never dare. At a fast paced 76 minute runtime, it's pretty amazing what they got crammed into the plot, but that's what they did best back in those days.
½ May 19, 2011
I watched this film for the first time yesterday. It's a film that I think all of you guys will enjoy. James Cagney is a sure delight in this role...Njoy!!!
Super Reviewer
May 18, 2011
Showing that sensationalist journalism is nothing new this breezy little number puts Cagney front and center as a con going straight even if it isn't in the most savory profession. The big difference is that Cagney is shown to have a conscience something that most of the bottom feeding slugs that invade peoples privacy today surely lack.
Super Reviewer
½ November 27, 2010
I really liked this movie, it combines the gangster movies with the reporter movies, and adds some romance too. It's a great combination with a great cast, with Cagney as the main character. This is an exciting, fun, romantic, and sometimes humorous movie, and I highly recommend it.
Super Reviewer
September 8, 2010
Picture Snatcher seems to follow a trend with James Cagney movies in the 30s. He always plays an ex-con who manages to excel in whatever profession after going legit. The movie's got a fun cast, the dialogue's full of spunk and the story hints at plenty of darkness. Picture Snatcher is also a quick watch with plenty of fun moments even if its not required viewing.
June 20, 2010
PICTURE SNATCHER is listed as a crime drama, which is somewhat of a surprise to me because as drama - it's really 77 minutes of utter ridiculousness. Pure 1930's style hokum...but I credit the main actors - James Cagney, Ralph Bellamy and Alice White. Their performance here elevates the film to near comic genius and makes PICTURE SNATCHER a joy to watch.

Especially James Cagney...the delivery of his lines in that quick, inimitable New York accent of his simply propels this film. It's amazing how much energy he lends his character. There is just no way that some of the stuff he does here was scripted - whether giving an actress a playful bite on the cheek during a kissing scene or the way he talks lovey-dovey to his girlfriend over the phone. PICTURE SNATCHER is by no means one of Cagney's best or well-remembered films - but watching this you have no doubt of his quality as one of classic Hollywood's best.


Cagney plays hoodlum Danny Kean - just released from prison after serving a three-year term. His boss, Jerry "The Mug" (Ralf Harolde) is eager to have Danny back into the gang... but Danny wants no part of it. Danny vows he's going "legitimate" - taking up an offer to become a reporter for a daily newspaper. The other boys in the gang laugh at the prospect but there is no doubting his sincerity - a scowl from Danny's face stops their laughter.

Newspaper editor Al McLean (Ralph Bellamy) has his doubts too. "I only want to show you and myself and the rest of the world that I can be something besides a gorilla" - Danny explains to McLean. When Danny uses a bit of inventiveness to literally "take" a photo of a suicidal fireman does McLean take notice and hire Danny as a cub photographer.

It doesn't take long for Danny's value as a reporter to rise. His street-savvy ways - "I know every mug and cop in this town..." - is a big advantage over the other rival reporters. He wrangles his way into viewing and secretly snapping a photo of an execution (of a female murderer) despite not having the proper reporter's credentials. An extended chase ensues when the guards and the other reporters realize Danny has taken a prohibited photo and try to prevent him from getting back to his newspaper. The owner of the newspaper is elated, of course - and wants to publish the "death photo" and demands the full story from Danny.

In what is probably the film's best comic moment - with editor McLean eagerly looking on, Danny - in his best New York accent - dictates the story of the execution to a female reporter, Allison (Alice White) who types it all up on a typewriter:

"...this is the way it wuz. They hustle us mugs into the death house and I muscle my way right down front where I get a good shot of the whole works...am I talking too fast? There it was right under my nose - the hot seat. Everything was quiet when in walk two of the screws... and in chains, the dame which they wuz going to take out for the murder. They plop her into the chair, put a hood over her head and strap her in. One guy gives 'er the office, another guy throws in the works and the dame fries....it was all over".

"wait a minute...lets see what we got" says McLean as he grabs the sheet from the typewriter and reads aloud Allison's dictation:

"The witnesses were ushered into the awful stillness of the death chamber. All eyes focused on the chair - that death dealing device in which the state enacts the supreme penalty. Suddenly the sounds of footsteps is heard...everything is tense...they grow closer. The door is opened and there on the threshold stood a woman, a wife...a mother who was to pay with her life for a crime unparalleled in the annals of criminal history. The murder of her lover - the father of her child. Great stuff, Danny!!!"

"...eh. I always knew I could write. All I needed wuz the chance", says Danny nonplussed.

Allison (Alice White) does not get a grapefruit shoved into her face by Cagney but as the amorous reporter who has the hots for Danny - she does endure the wrath of Cagney's tough-guy screen persona. In one scene, the sexually aggressive Allison is slapped unconscious by Danny tired of Allison's unwanted advances. He dumps her unceremoniously from the front seat to the back seat of a car. It's all to comic relief really but the point is made that one doesn't mess with Cagney's persona - be they men or women. Danny rebuffs Allison because she happens to be McLean's girlfriend. "I don't two-time pals..." he tells Allison angrily.

Danny ignores Allison because he has his eyes set on a pretty journalism student - Patricia Nolan (Patricia Ellis). Complications further arise - Patricia happens to be the daughter of policeman, Lt. Casey Nolan (Robert Emmett O'Connor) - the cop who originally arrested Danny and put him in jail. Surprised and shocked to see his daughter with the hoodlum -Nolan chases Danny away and takes a pot shot at him with his service pistol. "I'm gonna kill that dirty rat..."

Imagine that...someone actually calling Cagney a "dirty rat".

½ March 13, 2010
2.5: Classic Cagney, complete with more than one slap and push of a dame's face (most of the women in Cagney's films are dame's rather than ladies). It isn't as shocking as having fruit pushed into a dame's face, but it still works. For the most part, Cagney either played bad guys, or bad guys gone good, but finding it difficult to do so. This is the latter of the two. I'm not sure if the term paparazzi was used back then, but that's essentially what Cagney's character seems to be.
½ August 16, 2009
not a memorable Cagney flick but it has a few good moments. Hot dames and fast talkers make this movie worth its while.
May 23, 2009
not a memorable Cagney flick but it has a few good moments. Hot dames and fast talkers make this movie worth its while.
½ February 12, 2009
cagney is so much fun in this flick.
½ November 13, 2008
Its amazing to see interesting camera shots and production techniques way back in 1933. And... there was James Cagney, an unapologetic positive-thinking ball of energy. Good story with lots of tension! Can be found in one of the WB Gangsters dvd packs.
June 30, 2008
Replace a gun for a camera, and you've got Picture Snatcher. Wonderfully balanced, Cagney plays both the comedic and serious sides of this character. While I don't necessarily agree with the trailer for the film saying that it's "The Greatest, and we mean GREATEST role he's ever had!" But regardless he never ceases to entertain and impress.
½ June 10, 2008
Ex-con Cagney tries to go straight by taking the titular position at a "tenth rate rag" under elbow-bending Ralph Bellamy. Check out Winnie the Pooh himself, Sterling Holloway as a journalism student. Features a daring escape from Sing-Sing and gunfight. Great fun.
May 26, 2008
Reformed stick-up man (Cagney) puts his old skills to use in his new profession as photographer for a sleazy New York tabloid. Fast-paced satire epitomizes the 30s Warner Bros. formula of gritty social observation wrapped up as a snappy, irreverent entertainment. Follows up on the grapefruit sequence from Public Enemy by having Cagney explosively mistreat a succession of no-good dames.
May 19, 2008
Shocking subject matter for 1933: a photographer snaps a picture of a prisoner in the electric chair. And a woman no less.
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