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JAMES CAGNEY WITH RICHARD CONTE IN '13 RUE MADELEINE'

Title: 13 RUE MADELEINE Year: 1947 Rating: ***1/2

In the 1940's, James Cagney went to war... well, not literally... but at forty-years old and already an iconic movie star, once WW2 began, he put away his wise-guy garb and did only patriotic features...

Which is unfortunate, as the soldiers overseas would probably rather cheer Cagney on in another ROARING TWENTIES-style vehicle to get their minds off reality... But maybe these features were for American audiences to see what sacrifices were going on overseas... 

James Cagney in 13 RUE MADELEINE

And this contribution sustained even after the war, and in the case of 13 RUE MADELEINE, he fared much better in what's more a crime thriller in military garb, starting out a propaganda documentary before the story unfolds... 

The best moments take place during the first half, involving Richard Conte as a secret traitor/German spy bunked with good American boy Frank Latimore in a post-graduate boot-camp/training center for O.S.S. agents...

Richard Conte in 13 RUE MADELEINE

Conte's always dependable, whether playing good, bad, or in-between, like here... where the audience is initially oblivious until we learn the twist along with Cagney, who basically oversees the young agents the way Lloyd Nolan (and Robert Armstrong) did with Cagney's own training in G-MEN...

Meanwhile, the best scene is also the coldest, deadliest, and timeless: involving Conte and Latimore about to parachute out of an airplane into France: particularly chilling and effective since it's not over-scored or melodramatic... 

James Cagney in 13 RUE MADELEINE

After which Cagney finally becomes the star of the show, traipsing around France dressed in a suit through German occupied France, meeting resistance members and the town's neurotic mayor (Sam Jaffe)... 

 This is also the point when Richard Conte takes backseat, appearing only sporadically... like a third-tier war-flick Nazi officer... hardly sharing any more effectively strategic screen-time with Cagney: a shame since they'd have made perfect second-half foes.  

James Cagney in 13 RUE MADELEINE with Richard Conte & Annabella
James Cagney in 13 RUE MADELEINE
Richard Conte in 13 RUE MADELEINE
James Cagney and Richard Conte in 13 RUE MADELEINE
James Cagney in 13 RUE MADELEINE
Richard Conte in 13 RUE MADELEINE
Frank Latimore in 13 RUE MADELEINE
James Cagney and Walter Abel in 13 RUE MADELEINE
James Cagney in 13 RUE MADELEINE
James Cagney in 13 RUE MADELEINE
Richard Conte in 13 RUE MADELEINE
James Cagney and Walter Abel in 13 RUE MADELEINE
Karl Malden in 13 RUE MADELEINE
James Cagney and Walter Abel in 13 RUE MADELEINE
James Cagney in 13 RUE MADELEINE
James Cagney in 13 RUE MADELEINE

 

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