50something

Okay, so Melville Shavelson was no Sam Fuller or Budd Boetticher or Nicholas Ray. But the sight of a spry and relatively trim James Cagney prancing and tapping around on a big banquet table, and with very few edits to interrupt the action, feels cool right now. (Even with the deeply irritating Pentagon clown Bob Hope huffing and puffing alongside.) Call it a Thursday afternoon mood-pocket thing.

32 thoughts on “50something

  1. Rich S. on said:

    Very nice. This is from The Seven Little Foys, right? That whole thing, with the real Eddie Foy, Jr. showing up in Yankee Doodle Dandy, and then Cagney showing up here as George M. Cohan, was incredibly “meta,” especially for the time in question.

  2. Some readers might enjoy writer-director-producer Melville Shavelson’s autobiography “How to Succeed in Hollywood Without Really Trying: P.S.-You Can’t”. It was published shortly before his death in 2007.He got Oscar nominations for co-writing “The Seven Ltttle Foys” (1955) and ‘Houseboat” (1958), both of which he directed.

  3. Legend has it that Cagney had a serious flare up with his knees just before filming this. They were size of grapefruits or something… yet you couldn’t tell in a million years. Such pros. Anyone thinking this is antiquated or not thrilling on some level is a sad person.

  4. Cagney was a conservative too, especially as he got older. This is a scene of the joy of performance. Don’t pee all over it by slamming Hope.

  5. Cagney has such a singular way with his dancing, almost a marionette on strings, but with more grace. Thanks for the clip, I’d forgotten about this scene.

  6. Eh, Hope was a grade A dick, but aren’t some legendary performers kinda untouchable? I mean, shitting on Bob Hope is pretty meaningless at this point.

    Cagney was a top notch song and dance man. What a talent.

  7. Bob Hope was awesome in the forties, tolerable in the fifties, and must-avoid in the sixties, although I do have a soft spot for Call Me Bwana.

    The Ghost Breakers, My Favorite Blonde, Where There’s Life, The Princess and The Pirate, and Caught In The Draft are all a lot of fun. So are the Road movies, but it always bugged me seeing Bob take a backseat to Bing, when he was always the romantic lead in his own movies.

  8. You mean this Bob Hope:

    Woody Allen said he saw Road to Morocco “when I was only 7 years old, but I knew from that moment on what I wanted to do with my life.” He called Hope “a woman’s man, a coward’s coward and always brilliant.” Allen’s Hope-inspired movies include Take the Money and Run, Bananas and Love and Death.

    (And yes, Allen was critical of Hope in his later movies and cue card reading TV career. But that doesn’t take away from his early genius.)

    And as for the huffing and puffing, that’s clearly a part of the story, in this part of the film Foy is older and the dance takes more out of him.

  9. I love Bob Hope but you can see him begin the calcifying process here… part of it is the biopic earnestness weighing on his shoulders… his line delivery is really heavy-handed and flat, whiffing jokes that he knocked out of the park just a year earlier in Casanova’s Big Night.

    Still a pretty joyous scene… if only it were true.

  10. I’m pretty damn hungover right now, but from what I can recall, I think my night last night went EXACTLY like that clip.

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