SYNOPSIS: James Cagney retired 13 years ago. Last nite...he came out of SECLUSION for one?
SYNOPSIS: James Cagney retired 13 years ago. Last nite...he came out of SECLUSION for one nite only to receive the American Film Institute's life achievement award. Cagney is the first actor to receive this award. It's given to one whose talent has in a FUNDAMENTAL way advanced the film art; whose accomplishments have been acknowledged by scholars, critics, professional peers and the general public; and whose work has stood the test of time.
I'll tell you who did it -- the American Film Institute who packed the Century Plaza Ballroom last night with 15 hundred people who love and respect Jimmy Cagney.
Sixty pictures over a thirty year career. The film legacy of one of the screens major personallities -- Biographers would say of his early films -- he treated most things with contempt-- but that there was enough charm in his grin to reach the last row in the balcony.
In 1931, in Public Enemy he emerged as an anti-hero --a new brand of screen idol. AND When he smashed a grapefruit into the face of Mae Clark -- it became one of the MOTION PIC memorable moments.
MAE CLARK SOT
In 1932 -- Cagney co-starred with Loretta Young in a film about an insurgent group of cab drivers - Called Taxi--
Warner Brothers had a stable of second bananas to play against stars like Cagney -- Allen Jenkins was a favorite.
The Stage Play Mr. Roberts was sucessfully transferred to the screen in 1955 --with Cagney the tyrannical Captain -- Jack Lemmon got an Oscar for his supporting role.
Doris Day did two musicals with Cagney -- in West Point Story 1951 -- The other -- a truly memorable film -- Love me Or Leave Me
Most people forget Cagney portrayed George M. Cohan twice -- in Yankee Doodle Dandy--and in a cameo spot in the Seven Little Foys with Bob Hope.
Just before he entered the main ballroom-- cagney faced the press -- the first time he had been seen publicly since 1961.
Among those with Cagney on the platform was another former Warner Brothers contract player who also has retired from films.
There was such bedlem at this photo sesion that any real dialogue was impossible --
Cagney did reaffirm that he was not interested in a return to films -- that he liked it where he was in New England.
He had just decided in 1961 he finished making ONE, TWO, THREE that it wasn't fun to make pictures anymore.
He put it once-- "Just forget any little rumours you may hear that the famous old grapefruit thrower will be back in front of the cameras.
The brief phote session ended headed into the ballroom -- where maybe he uttered George M. Cohan famous line again