When a movie theater usher is fired, he takes up with criminals and finds himself quite adept at various illegal activities. Eventually though, the police catch up with him, and he runs to hide out in Los Angeles. There he... more » stumbles into the movie business and soon rises to stardom. He has gone straight, but his newfound success arouses the interest of his old criminal associates, who are not above blackmail...« less
"James Cagney stars as a conman that winds up a Hollywood star trying to escape his shady past. The story begins with Cagney first getting conned by a group of con artists, then joining them and moving them on to much bigger games. When they turn on him, Cagney ends up in Los Angeles, where he works his way up the "extra" ladder to becoming a top star. Of course, his criminal "friends" want the bigger game that he can now bring them, possibly bringing an end to the life he has made for himself. This is the perfect kind of role for the young Cagney. It allows him to display the cocky attitude, intelligence, aggressiveness, and humour that made him the immortal screen character he became. The two elements of the story mix well. The con game aspect is fun to watch as people cross and double cross each other. But it's also fun watching the fish-out-of-water Cagney adjusting to life in movies, giving us a glimpse of life behind the camera in 1930's Hollywood. Margaret Lindsay is competent as usual as Cagney's actress-girlfriend, while Mae Clarke is fun as one of his partners in the con games. Once again, Clarke gets pushed around (and pulled by the hair!) in a Cagney film, providing some of the film's highlights. Like most of the Warner Brothers films directed by Roy Del Ruth in the 1930's, Lady Killer moves along quickly, with plenty of in-your-face action and laughs, giving you a prime look at vintage Cagney."
SNAPPY PRE-CODE COMEDY.
scotsladdie | 01/29/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A cinema usher turns to crime, flees to Hollywood and becomes a movie player: a hectic slam-bang action comedy with melodratic moments. Great fun. Cagney play Dan Quigley, a man who finds he's been the victim of a confidence set-up. Dan threatens the gang with exposure unless they cut him in on the profits. Quigley works the racket so well, they are able to open a swank gambling club which is patronised by wealthy customers. Eventually the cops suspect illicit dealings and the gang leave town en route to Los Angeles, where Dan gets arrested. Because there isn't enough evidence in order to hold him, the police release Quigley. Looking like a hobo, he's hired for work as a movie extra...A thoroughly enjoyable thirties spoof of gangsters and Hollywood, in this one poor Mae Clarke is pulled by Jimmy - by him grabbing her hair! The original working title for the film was THE FINGER MAN..."
Classic Cagney romp.
William R. Ray | Arden, NC USA | 07/24/2000
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The young con gets conned. And that's how it starts in a crooked card game with femme fatale Mae Clarke setting the bait. You'll remember Mae, she's the same actress who took the grapefruit in the face in 'Public Enemy'.James Cagney is perfect as the street wise punk who joins a gang after they fleece him. The action (and the plot) move along fast enough to keep any viewer interested. True to it's 'pre-code' status, the subject material is adult. There are few innocent people here. Cagney stays with the gang pulling several 'jobs' until a bystander is killed.In Hollywood, the gang betrays him again and leaves for Mexico with Jimmy's money. Gagney joins a motion picture studio working as an extra. He soon rises to stardom with Margaret Lindsey as his new flame. The gang returns to blackmail him but Jimmy gets them in the end. Plenty of pre-code fun. Jimmy and Mae mix it up again with Jimmy doing the rough stuff. I would recommend this film to Jimmy Cagney fans and pre-code fans."
Fantastic--but overlooked--vehicle for Jimmy Cagney
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 02/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lady Killer is a marvelous, much overlooked vehicle for the great Jimmy Cagney to showcase his numerous talents. Cagney does comedy, his typical gangster type role, a little bit of drama and more in this snappy motion picture.
The action starts when Dan Quigley (Cagney) gets fired from his job as a movie theater usher; and when he gets taken by a group of small time con artists he joins them rather than getting even with them. Soon we meet Mae Clarke as Myra Gale, Duke (Leslie Fenton) and Spade Maddock (Douglas Dumbrille) along with a few more shady characters in the group of con artists.
Things go bad when an accidental murder takes place during a jewel heist; and they eventually all flee to California to escape the heat. Things aren't easy; the cops are still after them but at least in California they have a little breathing room. Just by chance, a couple of studio headhunters find Quigley and offer him a bit part in a movie. Things get even more interesting when Dan Quigley rises to stardom and meets a woman he truly loves, Lois Underwood (Margaret Lindsay).
Of course, the plot can go anywhere from here. Will Quigley and Underwood become a couple? Will the police catch Quigley and his former con artist friends? What if the con artist group catches up with Quigley after he becomes a Hollywood star? No spoilers here, folks--you'll have to watch the movie to find out!
The choreography is very well done in the scenes where Cagney is acting in a film within the film; and the cinematography works well, too.
Overall, this fine Jimmy Cagney vehicle stands the test of time as a very good and underappreciated movie. I highly recommend this film for fans of the great Jimmy Cagney; and people who enjoy classic movies will love this one, too! "
Something for Everyone
Samantha Kelley | USA | 10/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Lady Killer is a great film with a little bit of everything so that everyone who watches it gets what they want.
It starts out with a gangster/swindler series of scenes. Cagney joins in on a card game and realized he's been scammed, so instead of turning the group in, he gets in on the action. This genre returns later in the film, ending in a shootout during a car chase.
The next part of the film is set in Hollywood as Cagney rises in the ranks to becoming a star. This sequence involves a love story with the beautiful Margaret Lindsay who plays an accomplished star. The two have some great scenes together. One involves a scene in which they are filming a historical drama together. Lindsay wears a scandalously low-cut gown revealing forbidden cleavage. Cagney wears a ridiculous period costume. Later, Lindsay wears a rather ugly evening gown made of what looks like a large, cheap sleeveless cloth with a sheer black undershirt. Horrendous.
The last bit of the film that is sure to tickle the comedy tastebuds of the audience is a slapstick scene involving a group of monkeys ruining a party.
This is certainly a star vehicle for Cagney who shines in his diverse role. His character is wonderfully confident, bordering on cocky with incredibly expressive eyes. He is horribly mean to the women in the film, but in some ways is understandably so.
This film is part of the Forbidden Hollywood series and includes a brief commentary from Leonard Maltin."