Written by: Carroll Jenkins on April 10th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1934
Director: Michael Curtiz
Writers: Laird Doyle, Ray Nazarro, Bertram Millhauser
Cast: James Cagney, Bette Davis, Alice White, Allen Jenkins, Alan Dinehart, Arthur Hohl
DVD released: September 28th, 2010
Approximate running time: 67 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Warner Archive
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.95
Synopsis: Jimmy Corrigan is a semi-legit business man who collects a modest fee for locating heirs to fortunes – and he never takes more than 50%. His former girlfriend is now employed by his direct rival, but he’s still got it bad over her.
Jimmy The Gent is a product of it’s times, especially the newly implemented enforcement of the Hays Code. The Warner Brothers gangster films had to be retooled extensively and this one is a comedy, though it still retains a hard edge and an extremely cavalier attitude towards ethics and morality. There’s rather a bit of cleavage on display, as well. Bette Davis’ character is the voice of compassion and conscience, though she does have one hairdo that slicks down her scalp and makes her look like silent star Lillian Gish. Cagney, on the other hand, had his barber put ‘scars’ in the back of his head in protest of yet another tough guy role. Cagney was ever the professional, however, and his mile-a-minute dialog and Three Stooges violence routines with Allen Jenkins are quite hilarious. Much of the comedy is social class stuff, with Cagney and his minions attempting to refine their image, ya mug.
The central story involves a murder suspect who’s hiding out from the coppers, drinking, and playing solitaire. It was self defense, but the adversary’s dame is gonna put the finger on him but good. When he turns out to be the beneficiary of 200 grand, Cagney must save him from the chair and hold on to his 50% fee.
One of the ‘Remastered’ Warners Archive collection MOD releases, the film looks excellent and the dialog is easy to discern, despite lack of subtitles. Presented in the fullscreen academy ratio, the trailer is included.
Jimmy The Gent rolls along at a quick pace, with lots packed into it’s brief run time. Not as sexy as his earlier vehicles, but with a more subversive sense of humor. Bette Davis was said to be afraid of Cagney and wouldn’t pose with him; she must have watched too many movies.