Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Star Cast in Role in Which He Can’t Control Either His Fists or His Eyes
By Wood Soanes - Feb. 13

Cocky Cagney – James to the bill-boards and the starring contracts – is at the State theater this week tough as leather, hard as nails, and as perky as a belligerent bantam illustrating with crisp dialogue and short arm jabs how a 1932 model Romeo conducts his love affairs and a 1932 Napoleon runs the business of state.

In Cagney’s case it is the taxi business, and the story by Kubee Glasmon and John Bright, to whom the star owes a rising vote of thanks for tailor-made roles, has for a background the taxi war that raged in New York and other cities not so long ago, when the organized interests and the independents decided to fight it out.

Cagney is Matt Nolan, who simply can’t control either his fists or his eyes, and who is firmly convinced that he is both the answer to a maiden’s prayer, and that he is the anointed trust-breaker. When the “Consolidated” kills off old “Pop” Reilly, leaving his lovely daughter, Sue, to shift for herself, Nolan declares war without fear or favor.

“Taxi” starts out in a high-powered way with the crushing of old Pop and the harangue Nolan delivers to the Independent taxi drivers. It is a brisk dramatic start and it maintains that pace to the melodramatic climax, when Nolan outwits the police and sends his ancient enemy crashing to death without becoming involved in the murder.

The story is similar to the ones that have taken Cagney step by step from the shadows into the spotlight of Hollywood, but it contains many twsits of plot that keep it bright and swift. Cagney’s type of pictures is aimed at the populace rather than the select, but his work is nevertheless commendable in most instances.

This picture is a good bit better than “Blonde Crazy,” his last release, although it does not reach the heights of realism achieved in “The Public Enemy,” which sent him soaring on his way. It is given a good production by Warner’s and Cagney is furnished with excellent support featuring Loretta Young as the girl who loves and forgives.

She and Cagney play a difficult scene in the hospital ward most effectively. It is here that the veneer of toughness breaks for the taxi driver when he realizes that his young brother has had to pay with his life for a matter over which they had no control. It is hokum, of course, but so was the major part of “Emma,” “The Champ,” and “A Free Soul.”

David Landau does another good job as the villainous hireling of the Consolidated; Leila Bennett gets a lot of fun out of a gabby, dumb belle; and George E. Stone, Dorothy Burgess, Guy Kibbee, and Ray Cooke make the most of small roles. Roy Del Ruth handled the direction, In addition to the picture, there is a diverting list of short subjects.

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