Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1934. Warner Bros.. Story by Ben Markson, Screenplay by Earl Baldwin, Ben Markson. Cinematography by Arthur Edeson. Produced by Hal B. Wallis, Jack L. Warner. Music by Leo F. Forbstein. Production Design by Esdras Hartley. Costume Design by Orry-Kelly. Film Editing by George Amy. Academy Awards 1934.
James Cagney plays a construction worker who gets into a fight with a Navy officer (Pat O’Brien) that then leads to a nasty fight between them at a local dance. Furious and out of a job after recovering from his beating, Cagney joins the Navy in an effort to get the guy back and, to his delight, is posted on the same ship as his nemesis. When he falls in love with O’Brien’s sister (Gloria Stuart), it puts one more wedge in the mens’ relationship that this adventurous film only barely relieves by its end. Strangely placed somewhere comedy and drama, this one definitely gets points for energy, bursting with the kind of masculine nonsense that a country brimming over with unemployment would have found thrilling at the time. It’s fascinating to see a movie set in the armed forces before World War II was its driving force, and while most of it is only passably amusing, it’s worth watching for a terrifying stunt involving a zeppelin in the final act that is remarkably photographed.