Everything you wrote about CITY FOR CONQUEST was great and spot-on, John. I completely agree, so I don’t really have much more to add. Cagney owns this thing every which way. And he does scream authentic common man. He lets it bellow out from his bones. The scene with his goil where he explains his desire not to be a fighter but just to live simply in the city and be happy is one of his finest moments. As is the seemingly schmaltzy moment where he is listening to his brother’s concert on the radio. It should be just over-the-top sentimentality, but it ends up totally endearing. Cagney doesn’t have to sell it to you; you buy it because it’s the real thing. I love everything Cagney, and this film is no exception. It is a great ode to the City.
Kazan’s little part is great too. He gets that really fine moment in the car, and it’s just fun to see him act. So damn young here.
I also caught BUCK PRIVATES on TCM this morning. Hilarious. I love the craps game gag. Especially for Lou’s line “They wouldn’t let me I was too young...starting Tuesday I’m going out with girls.” I burst out laughing. I’m excited to watch more A&C from the 40s.