Created by Laird Doyle
Jimmy Cagney plays JIMMY CORRIGAN, the scrappy, strutting operator of a missing heirs bureau out to win the heart of the beautiful Joan (Bette Davis) in 1934's Jimmy the Gent. But it ain't easy. Jimmy may know every trick in the book, but Joan's the assistant of his biggest competitor, who happens to be one smooth, suave dude. But to win her back, Jimmy's willing to do almost anything, up to and including (GASP!) becoming respectable.
By most accounts, it's a pretty good flick, with some great, zippy dialogue between Cagney's cocky bantam rooster and Bette Davis' wise-ass blonde, who thinks the runt's "the greatest chiseler since Michelangelo."
But there's more here than first meets the eye. At first glance a fluffy piece of lightweight entertainment, the flick was actually pretty gritty for its time. According to Tom Howard, in the August 2001 issue of Crime Factory, the film is "laced with bribery, corruption, double-dealing, racketeering, fraud, ratting and selling out (and) comes across even today as an extremely bitter expose of the self-seeking underbelly of human society. No heroes or heroines here. Few sympathetic characters at all. Just about everyone is out there pitching strictly and ruthlessly for number one."
There's some pretty tough and earthy dialogue, and even a scene where the cops pay off a stool pigeon with a shot of dope.
The heir hunter racket popped up seventy years later in Chris Larsgaard's Shamus-nominated The Heir Hunter.
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