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EARLY CAGNEY DOUBLE: HARD TO HANDLE & HE WAS HER MAN

Ruth Donnelly in HARD TO HANDLE ****
Character-actress Ruth Donnelly is a genius. Was a genius. But art is eternal, and James Cagney is timeless, breezy, natural, edgy, hilarious, especially in the early programmers after his accidental game-changing role, upped from the sidekick to the leading, title character in THE PUBLIC ENEMY: A thoroughly entertaining yet dire and grim classic...

And while regarded as one of his better features during the 1930's, ENEMY doesn't flow along Cagney's style since he hadn't established it like underrated lightweight crime-comedies such as: HARD TO HANDLE, with Cagney doing what would happen again in HERE COMES THE NAVY, hosting a dance contest, only this time his partner runs off with the money as the winning couple awaits their prize cash — plus he's dogged by crowds like villagers in a Frankenstein movie. The rest of the picture has Cagney's Lefty Merrill coming up with get-rich-quick schemes that, although entirely impossible and unrealistic, are involving and it's the aforementioned brilliant Ruth Donnelly as his patient girlfriend's impatient mother that carries the film. Moving around the scenery as if made of elastic, she steals the movie, outright.
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