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JAMES CAGNEY & VIRGINIA BRUCE SPAR IN 'WINNER TAKE ALL'

Year of Release: 1932 Director: Roy Del Ruth
Definitely one of the oddest boxing movies ever made, and the first time in James Cagney's early career where the performance is obvious: As punchy Jimmy Kane, he speaks in a forced, dumb-guy dialect that shouldn't have gotten past the rehearsal stage...

Introduced as a total has-been, with crowds throwing money in the ring before a newer, more relevant fighter's bout, he's sent to a strange and remote New Mexico health farm (taking up the first act in a lonesome, flickering black & white that feels like another movie altogether) where he meets the good girl with a sick son, whose hopeful/helpful input pales to the gorgeous but shallow, conceited and suffocating dame who, back in New York, owns poor Jimmy right down to his flat nose and cauliflower ear —hence surgically altered to fit with her stuffy, pseudo-intellectual crowd (crazy about the Russians and wary about the Japanese)...

One day this will be Jack Nicholson WINNER Score: ***1/2
So to protect his facial investment, he dances around the ring instead of fighting, turning off fans and especially Virginia Bruce's sexy society gal (yet with a tough trampy countenance) Joan Gibson as the entire second half's ruled by her impatient, fickle attitude... But then, finally aware of the deplorable situation known to everyone but his hypnotized, duped self, Cagney's limited performance expands into a familiar street savvy edge. Along with fists flying in the right direction (with a jumping-bean style only Cagney could or would pull off), it's a comeback/turnaround that's far too long overdue.
A pug-nosed James Cagney with pre-code cleavage Virginia Bruce in Winner Take All
Virginia Bruce partakes in some pulpy night reading, hearing a knock on her door...
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