Monday, February 8, 2010

The Strawberry Blonde (1941)

I've recently been watching the 1941 James Cagney movie, The Strawberry Blonde and it is a very delightful romantic comedy. As well as James Cagney, it features other famous stars such as Olivia DeHavilland and Rita Hayworth. I really liked how the film had that turn-of-the-century look and how Rita Hayworth plays the love interest. I always knew that she was a sex queen like Marilyn Monroe—but not as iconic—and this must be the role that established that status. Olivia de Havilland returns as Cagney's girlfriend—she previously played a similar role in The Irish in Us (1935)—even though she doesn't start out that way because she is one of those woman suffragists who were common during the turn of the century and Cagney's character has old-fashioned values.
I found it kind of curious that Cagney was starring that takes place around the time during which he was born (he was born in 1899). What I also noticed about him in this film is that his voice is more high-pitched than normal and that he uses his body more (or maybe the speed of the film was faster than normal). When I first saw this film, I didn't really feel sorry for Cagney when he struggles to win Hayworth's love (even though I've had similar experiences, it's still very cruel of me); however, whenever I watch this film now, I feel sympathy for him, especially when he hears that Rita Hayworth eloped with his rival. (In that same scene, I find the giggling girl who's date of one of Cagney's friends very annoying and weird !)

No matter what, I still found James Cagney terrific as Biff Grimes, a New York corresponding dental student who loves Rita Hayworth but finds himself marrying Olivia de Havilland out of spite against his supposed friend, who he feels is walking over him. I also find it very funny that James Cagney takes his revenge on his rival near the end of the film by pulling out his painful tooth without gas! That could be a legitimate reason for being afraid of going to the dentist: You're paranoid that the dentist could take revenge against you—if he has any reason to. It was also in this film that I've realized how short James Cagney actually is; he seems so dimuinitive compared to his co-stars. (Of course, I'm short myself, so it's no big deal for me. James Cagney was actually taller than I am.)

I'm very sorry if this film review isn't as good as the other film reviews, but I don't know enough about this film, except that the screenplay was written by the Epstein brothers, the same guys who wrote the screenplay for Casablanca. As for the recommendations, I would recommend it for James Cagney fans who love to see the guy in romantic comedies and other versatile roles (as well as being a romantic comedy, this film is also a drama). Once again, comments & opinions on this film are encouraged!

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