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JAMES CAGNEY'S GRAND NATIONAL 'SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT'

Something to Sing About Year: 1937 Rating: ***1/2

The better of the two and the last picture Cagney did with the independent Grand National Pictures after GREAT GUY before returning to Warner Bros where he got to play by his own rules is SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT, showcasing Cagney's dynamic ability as a song and dance man with his own East Coast big band swing show...  

This is one of the earliest makings of a movie-within-a-movie to poke fun at the phony shenanigans centering on the hypocrisy and downside of Hollywood... 

A shallow place Cagney's character wants nothing to do with the further he progresses on set in a star-making role as a smooth, romantic, crooning leading man. And for Universal Horror Fans it's great seeing Dwight Frye, in his second Cagney picture: Frye played Renfield in DRACULA, stealing the movie from Bela Lugosi himself, and Dr. Frankenstein's loony, hunchback assistant (who isn't named Igor) in FRANKENSTEIN and here a suspiciously feminine" makeup artist — something you probably wouldn't see so upfront and obvious during the Hays Code. But the real standout is Philip Ahn, a kind of stereotypical Chinese assistant who eventually shows he knows more than he lets on...   

James Cagney goes big for Grand National Pictures

The plot shadows an earlier Cagney programmer from Warner titled LADY KILLER where he plays a con man/thief on the lam, winding up an Extra on a studio lot and then becomes an overnight star on the big screen... 

Only here he has practically no fun at all, leading to a dragged-out finale about this dream job turned nightmare nearly ruining his marriage...  

In a film without a genuine antagonist, I LOVE LUCY landlord neighbor William Frawley is a sneaky agent who plays up to the media that his client is having a possible affair with the movie's movie starlet, who can't hold a candle to singing actress Evelyn Daw: that marriage, according to his contract and to appease female fans, has to be kept secret. Like any lighthearted romantic comedy, the initial breezy setup is the most fun while the task of fulfilling a buried plot detours slowly into a dead end. Still though, as a whole, the movie works just fine.

William Frawley and James Cagney in SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT
Dwight Frye and James Cagney in SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT
Dwight Frye and James Cagney in SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT
Philip Ahn and James Cagney in SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT
Evelyn Daw in SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT

James Cagney in SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT
James Cagney in SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT
Evelyn Daw in SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT
Evelyn Daw in SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT with James Cagney
James Cagney in SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT
William Frawley and Mona Barrie in SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT
James Cagney in SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT
Philip Ahn in SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT
James Cagney in SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT
James Cagney in SOMETHING TO SING ABOUT with William Frawley & Dwight Frye

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