I just watched another James Cagney movie Each Dawn I Die (1939)—on YouTube again—and it was very dramatic. Yes, I know I was supposed to watch White Heat but in my opinion, this movie was close. The pairing of James Cagney and George Raft, whom I barely know but I suppose he's famous, was superb. At first, I thought the old woman in the movie was Cagney's girlfriend's mother, but then I learned that she was playing Cagney's mom, and the scene where she visits her son in prison is sad but beautiful. I think the way that the guards treated Cagney is horrible, and the way that Cagney is framed near the beginning of the film is also disgraceful (that's how he gets into prison). The way those thugs beat up James Cagney and doused him with alcohol just because he exposed the candidate for governor as corrupt is just plain wrong (btw, he plays a reporter in this movie). Whatever happened to freedom of the press?! James Cagney seemed to have gone insane from being in solitary confinement. Most of the film was sad but I didn't, if almost, cried. The scene where Cagney breaks down crying in front of the parole board begging for release is pretty dramatic, and the following scene where he finds out that he was rejected for parole is pretty messed up. I didn't really watch the shooting scene near the end of the film but I did think that the ending scene was beautiful. With this movie, Cagney seemed to cap off the decade with a premium tough guy role, but I still think that his role in The Roaring Twenties was a better cap-off. According to TCM's main article about this film, much of the movie's elements have become dated with time. I'm pretty sure that this film pales in comparison with White Heat, but I still thought that Cagney was good and made the film worth watching. And it was better than his 1933 reformatory movie Mayor of Hell. This movie is a must if you love seeing James Cagney in his famous tough guy roles, but if you love seeing him in versatile roles—like I do—then I would stay away from it yet still see it. Once again, feel free to comment with your own opinions about this movie.
Video Montage about James Cagney's "Inappropriate Cell Phone" which includes a clip from this movie: