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JAMES CAGNEY IN 'CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS' WITH DENNIS MORGAN

James Cagney, Brenda Marshall, Dennis Morgan in Captains of the Clouds Year: 1942 Rates: ***1/2

James Cagney’s stalwart expression on the poster, and a glorious title like CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS involving Canadian Bush Pilots training to fight in World War II, could be misleading for anyone loving the tough, snarky, womanizing Cagney: the persona that built his reputation before venturing into more serious matters – especially after the Second World War broke out...

But most of this film has the pint-sized icon of the previous decade, naturally playing a daredevil pilot stealing jobs from his fellow airmen (also including affable Cagney cinema regulars George Tobias and Alan Hale Sr.), using every trick in the book and being shrewder than ever...

James Cagney in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS with Dennis Morgan

He’s got his sites on a younger pilot's gorgeous fiancé – she too is a money-grubbing rogue and both make a fiendish pair: as Brenda Marshall is the perfect mix of lovely and deceitful, wisping her long black hair while planting a soft spike into kindhearted idealist Dennis Morgan... for what seems like two pictures, she stills the first (and best) one, hands down...

Meanwhile, scenes involving Cagney teaming up with Morgan and Alan Hale in their own cargo business lead to the group joining the Royal Canadian Air Force where Cagney’s cocky persona, training young fliers to take risks instead of following orders, gets him in hot water with the hard nosed military elites... including a vengeful Morgan...

James Cagney and Dennis Morgan in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS

Like all Cagney’s best characters, the ramifications mean nothing... He’s in it for the thrills and blind adventure and the audience takes part: But the last thirty minutes, as the group fly off into the inevitable mission (accompanied by Winston Churchill’s famous speech), seems a bit rushed and doesn’t live up to the energetic first act of double-crossings and Arial scenery over plush Canadian exteriors...

Director Michael Curtiz, a few years shy of CASABLANCA, wields each shot with precision so there’s never a dull moment, and the aerial scenery is terrific, especially along the Canadian marshes: But Cagney being Cagney (matching Brenda Marshall as his feisty match) is what really delivers the goods throughout this overlooked gem, far exceeding your typical wartime propaganda.

Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
From CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
From CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Dennis Morgan in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Dennis Morgan in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS with Brenda Marshall

Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
James Cagney in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
James Cagney in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS with James Cagney
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS with James Cagney
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS with James Cagney
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
James Cagney in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
James Cagney in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS with Dennis Morgan
From CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
From CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
James Cagney in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
James Cagney and Alan Hale Sr in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS with Dennis Morgan
George Tobias and Reginald Gardiner in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
JAMES CAGNEY in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
JAMES CAGNEY in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
From CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Warner Archives Blu Raay From CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
Brenda Marshall in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
From Michael Curtiz' CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS
James Cagney & Dennis Morgan in CAPTAINS OF THE CLOUDS

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