Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sinners' Holiday (1930)

Director: John G. Adolfi

Starring: James Cagney, Grant Withers, Evalyn Knapp, Lucille La Verne, Noel Madison, Otto Hoffman, Warren Hymer, Ray Gallagher, Joan Blondell

More info: IMDb

Plot: Based on the play Penny Arcade. After seeing the performance on Broadway, Al Jolson bought the rights to the play and sold it to Warner Bros. under the agreement that both Cagney and co-star Joan Blondell reprise their stage roles for the screen. The story concerns an overprotective mother, Ma Delano (LaVerne), who runs a penny arcade in Coney Island and lives with her children: Harry (Cagney), Joe (Gallagher), and Jennie (Knapp). Harry works for a sideshow ran by liquor-dealing gangster Mitch McKane (Hymer), who wants to date Jennie. Grant Withers plays Angel, Harry's co-worker and the hero that saves Jennie from Mitch's advances. When Mitch goes to jail, Harry takes over his shady liquor business and keeps the extra money for himself, leading to a deadly gunfight. When he's accused of murder, Harry begs his mother for protection and she frames Angel with the weapon out of a bizarrely obsessive love for her son.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

James Cagney has been and always will be my favorite actor. Ever since I was a kid I've been captivated by his performances. He is truly unique in the film world. I've seen plenty of debuts of movie stars that didn't amount to anything but Cagney's is one of the few where you can tell this guy is going on to bigger and better things. He's not the star of this picture but he sure steals your attention from everyone else.

One thing I like about his performances is he's always moving and doing things - he's alive with "business" as he called it. From the get go, as you can see in the clip above, he's delightful to watch. He can be both sides of the coin, from the tough guy to the sweetheart. I've seen tons of his pictures and I'm convinced I'm going to make his catalog the next project I start in the next couple of months.

Anyway, SINNERS' HOLIDAY is a good crime flick from start to finish. You've got guns, liquor, killin' and carny shit a-plenty. Without Cagney it'd still be a good show but it wouldn't be nearly as fun. He's the real reason to see this. What a guy. Oh, and then there's Joan Blondell. This was the first of 7 pictures she and Cagney did together over the next 4 years, their most well-know collaboration being THE PUBLIC ENEMY (1931). It should go without saying that Joan Blondell needs to have my babies but I like sayin' it.


  1. where can i get a download of this film? It is the only cagney film I do not have:(


  2. Yeah iv seen most of his films but never sinners holiday where did you watch it?

  3. TV. It was shown on Turner Classic Movies.