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Location: Vero Beach, Florida, United States

My name is Pat and I live in Florida. My skin will never be smooth again and my hair will never see color. I enjoy collecting autographs and playing in Paint Shop Pro.,along with reading and writing. Sometimes, I enjoy myself by doing volunteer "work" helping celebrities at autograph shows. I love animals and at one time I did volunteer work for Tippi Hedren's Shambala Preserve.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Gangster Song & Dance Man

Cagney By Cagney: by James Cagney

Paperback: 204 pages
Publisher: Doubleday (March 1, 2005)
ISBN-10: 0385520263

First published in 1976...

Date of Birth: 17 July 1899
Date of Death:30 March 1986

Normally I don't start off by saying what (if anything) is wrong with a book.. but I will with this one. The only thing wrong is: I would have liked it to be longer!

What I loved most about it? Is that it reads just like you'd expect Cagney to be talking to you.

This book was shorter than I would have liked it to be but it did read as I believe James Cagney wanted it to.

He did not go into depth about his childhood, other than to mention a number of times, how poor they were, and how he and his brothers (not his sister) became your basic street fighters, but all pulled together to keep things going when his dad died.

Unlike some books on actors He doesn't go through all his movies and talk about each one, though he does mention a number of them. His all time favorite being Yankee Doodle Dandy in 1942. And really.. if by any chance you have never seen this movie.. you should!

(something I didn't know.. that James's sister Jeanne played in Yankee Doodle Dandy with him!)

James talked of a number of his movies (mostly the ones he liked the best). He also let it be known that no matter how many people did imitations of him that he actually never said, "Mmmmmmm, you dirty rat".

A few of his other favorites were:

Man of a Thousand Faces (1957) . as Lon Chaney

The Seven Little Foys (1955) as George M. Cohan

Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) .... Rocky Sullivan

The one thing James Cagney was certain of when he wrote this little book... beyond anything else in his career... he thought of himself as a song and dance man. (not a gangster!)

TCM (Turner Classic Movies) houses many old black and white movies, that have soooo many wonderful actors and actresses that are gone now, but all of them are so worth while watching!

I wish more of them had written some sort of biography, but most did not and the only way one will get to know them at all is through their wonderful movies.

Meanwhile, there are other books out on James Cagney (but not written by him).

One is just called "Cagney" by John McCabe

and another is James Cagney: Paperback Book (Applause Legends Series)


Blogger Cath said...

How strange that Cagney thought of himself as a song and dance man. I don't think the rest of the world saw him as that kind of entertainer, do you? And yes, a great pity more of the Hollywood great didn't write their memoirs. What secrets some of them would have had to tell. Or not. ;-)

9:53 AM  
Blogger DesLily said...

Hi Cath: It's not so much deep dark secrets (at least I don't think so lol) but more I feel i want to learn more about someone I've admired. Maybe I'm just trying to justify the fact that I admire them. But then, there are times when I learn more about someone that I find, I don't think they deserve all the love and attention they got. (but not often thankfully)

9:57 AM  
Blogger Ladytink_534 said...

I've seen Cagney in something before but I'm not sure what is was. I'll have to see about getting Yankee Doodle Dandy sometime soon.

1:04 PM  
Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I have always loved Cagney. He WAS a song and dance man, but he was also a great actor, too!
I got to meet him many many years ago--the first Christmas that I spent in Los Angeles in 1961...It was at a party of dear friends of his.....and the son was a great friend of a dear friend of was just a brief "hello", etc...but, it was memorable. He was one of the giants of the screen , when I was growing up....It is so fantastic that we have all his films to remind us just how magnificent he really was.

1:48 PM  
Blogger DesLily said...

Ladytink: Yankee Doodle Dandy is the story of George M Cohen...

Naomi: you are so lucky to have met him even if only for a moment!! A C Lyles (who he mentions in the book) used to talk of Mr Cagney (they were friends) and he could never say enough good things about him.. I wish I could have known him.. and a number of stars long gone, that I just think were fabulous!

6:05 PM  
Blogger animewookie said...

I always enjoyed him more in the song and dance roles. I think his lighter characters were just more appealing to me anyway, and lets face it, when Cagney was dark, he was DARK. What an incredible range. Sounds like an insghtful read.

7:22 AM  
Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Pat...I loved your comment about The Wax Museum....! It was my friend Shawn who told me that THAT is what they are building there. I hope that there will be something else in that building besides the WAx Museum. It is such a valuable peice of property, and quite large, too.....We'll see.

1:00 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

I'm not surprised that he thought of himself as a song and dance man.

He was an entertainer - for sure.

Everytime I pop over here I think, I'm going to go to the library, or I'm going to check out the used and then I go to work and come home tired.

Next week I'm on vacation. I'm FOR SURE going to include a trip to the library (along with bird watching and watercolor)

9:48 AM  
Blogger DesLily said...

hi Pam: as long as we manage a little time to do something for ourself that we enjoy (read/ write/ paint/ watch a movie/ bird watch!).. it all counts. There just needs to be something to take us to a place we wouldn't go if all we did was work. It's all great stuff!!

9:52 AM  
Blogger Corinne said...

I just wanted to pass on that Seven Little Foys was one of my favorite movies growing up - I still love it :)

11:06 PM  

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