Written by / 6/21/2017 / No comments / , , , , ,

CAGNEY WINDS DOWN WITH NEVER STEAL ANYTHING SMALL

James Cagney behind blinds in a semi Musical from 1959
During his last decade of acting before what was really his retirement from show business (despite popping his head out twenty years later), James Cagney never did have that necessary pinnacle or comeback like, say, a fledgling Marlon Brando when director Francis Ford Coppola insisted that he try out for... you know...

In this case, Orson Welles and Stanley Kubrick's favorite actor's filmography during the Fifties is eclectic and, for the most part, at times, pretty mediocre... That's compared to the likes of PUBLIC ENEMY, THE ROARING TWENTIES or WHITE HEAT: And here's one of several breezy breaks for the man who once reigned with vengeance: NEVER STEAL ANYTHING SMALL is a semi-musical about Union corruption, and if that sounds strange, only the little man could pull it off with an edgy vibe, somewhat: Like in one of his other (and far superior) 1950's vehicles, LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, he's in love with a young blonde girl who loves someone else  all while trying to steal an election...

BULLET HOLES: ***
As for the music side, he doesn't really sing himself. While Shirley Jones and the token good guy croon together, Cagney dances along like a teacher, or director of the production as if it were a Broadway show. Most of the movie does actually fit him: dealing with a shady yet deep down, kindhearted gangster type who cuts corners to get what he wants — and he wants what he gets pretty quick during what are the best scenes: becoming the President of a particular worker's union with not only muscle but charm. The worst scenes are whenever Cagney's not around, which doesn't happen much since NEVER STEAL ANYTHING SMALL is one of his final tour de force vehicles, albeit heavily lacking the same force that shaped his legacy. 
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