Classic crush profile: James Cagney

I love James Cagney because he played gangsters but also danced. He was flirty with a love for life but a tinge of pathos. In real life he was married to one woman for 64 years.  He was that perfect combo of artistic, sensitive, and bad boy.  He was reported to be faithful to his wife but almost cheated with actress Merle Oberon.   If he had cheated with Merle, I’d forgive him for good taste.  If you are going to cheat one time, the exquisite Merle Oberon is the way to go. Heck, I’d consider cheating on my spouse with Merle. 

My 1st exposure to Cagney was Yankee Doodle Dandy around the 4th of July, of course.  Then I started watching his lesser known films like Boy Meets Girl, Blonde Crazy, and The Bride Came C.O.D. I basically knew him as a dancer and light comedian type, Footlight Parade being one of my favorite Cagney musicals as well as one of my favorite musicals, full stop. It wasn’t till High School that I realized he was more famous as a gangster type.  I’m grateful though that I was exposed to his comedies and musicals first because it seems Cagney fans exposed to the gangster persona first have a harder time accepting him as a song and dance man than vice-versa.

White Heat is a great film but that film unfortunately tarnished his crush image….too psycho and chubby for me.  I prefer his 30s gangsters like Public Enemy, Angels With Dirty Faces and The Roaring Twenties.