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Thursday, January 15, 2015

'Boy Meets Girl' DVD: James Cagney Shows His Screwball Comedy Side

Boy Meets Girl
Warner Archive showing that the range of Hollywood royalty James Cagney extends well beyond his tough-guy gangster persona is one of the best treats regarding Archive DVD releases. A recent example is the Unreal TV reviewed uber-awesome Blu-ray release of the classic George M. Cohan musical biopic "Yankee Doodle Dandy."

The Archive DVD release of the 1938 screwball comedy "Boy Meets Girl" showcases the wild and crazy side of Cagney. This further illustrates the studio system of the era that somewhat randomly matches contract players with roles. The incredible versatility of Cagney makes all these efforts successful regarding him.

The following spoiler-laden clip, courtesy of YouTube of a pivotal scene in "Boy" provides an excellent sense of the talent of the cast and the superb writing and directing in the film.

The role of zany screenwriter Robert Law has Cagney delivering lines in a manner that Archive aptly describes as tossing "words around like hot potatoes." The equally good Pat O'Brien does a great job keeping up with Cagney in the role of Law writing partner J.C. Benson. The highly satirical depiction of the studio system contributes to the fun of this film that Archive informs us is based on a successful Broadway play of the same title.

Fellow Hollywood nobility Ralph Bellamy plays overwhelmed film producer C. Elliott Friday, who is the foil of the boys. Seeing Friday try to control these crazies while simultaneously overseeing the making of three films and contending with the conflict between what he asks for and what he wants is comic gold.

One of the best scenes has frantic and motor-mouthed Law and Benson offering a rapid-fire description of the variations on the titular film cliche only to segue into pitching the idea of adding a baby into the mix. This element brings pregnant studio food service employee Susie, wonderfully played by "Walk of Fame" comic actress Marie Wilson, into the insanity.

The ensuing hilarity also ropes in faltering Western star Larry Toms into the action as the star of the proposed film.

The success of the innovation makes the baby a star, creates hilarious problems for Larry, and allows Wilson to show off her talent for playing a dumb blonde.

The satirical aspect of the film wonderfully includes seemingly constant incidents of self-serving grasping, manipulations, flat-out fraud, and betrayals. These dirty studio politics makes those associated with running the federal government look respectable.

This is aside from the publicity-related shenanigans that include a staged incident during a scene in which Ronald Reagan plays an announcer at a movie premiere.

The seemingly constant general developments and twists in this film build up palatable suspense regarding which boy who meets which girls ends up with same, if they even do in this deliciously cynical film.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Boy" is encouraged to email me; you can also contact me on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.