US Release Date: 07-21-1934
Directed by: Lloyd Bacon
- James Cagney, as
- Chesty O'Conner
- Pat O'Brien, as
- Biff Martin
- Gloria Stuart, as
- Dorothy Martin
- Frank McHugh, as
- Droopy Mullins
- Dorothy Tree, as
- Robert Barrat, as
- Commander Denny
- Willard Robertson as
- Executive Officer
James Cagney and Gloria Stuart in Here Comes the Navy.
Here Comes the Navy proves two unfortunate things. One, that not every Jimmy Cagney picture was a winner (although it was a hit upon its release and garnered decent reviews it hasn’t aged well at all) and two, that not every movie nominated for Best Picture by the Motion Picture Academy is worthy. The Hollywood studio system was truly a factory in those days cranking out its product. Cagney had been making movies for just 4 years in 1934 but was already on his 18th movie.
Here Comes the Navy is notable as the first teaming of James Cagney with his real life chum Pat O’Brien. They would eventually appear in 9 movies together finishing up with Ragtime in 1981. Blonde beauty Gloria Stuart plays O’Brien’s sister and Cagney’s girl. She may have survived the sinking of the Titanic but her career was lucky to stay afloat after this undisciplined dog of a movie.
Cagney plays Chesty O’Connor at his usual bombastic breakneck pace. Nearly all Cagney’s characters were cocky smart-alecks, but they were usually likable cocky smart-alecks. His Chesty is just an annoying braggart. He enlists in the Navy after a fight over a girl at a dance hall gets him fired from his job. He winds up on the same ship as Biff Martin (O’Brien) the guy he had the fight with. Only now he’s taking orders from Martin.
Unaware of the relation he begins dating Martin’s sister (Stuart) and hilarious complications ensue (not really). Chesty goes AWOL to see his dame and redeems himself by becoming a hero during war training maneuvers. Frequent Cagney cohort Frank McHugh goes along for the ride as comic relief.
This was James Cagney’s first movie after the strict enforcement of the Hay’s Code began in the summer of 1934. Along with Mae West, Cagney was one of the stars whose careers was predicted would suffer from censorship the most. Although West’s career never really recovered, Cagney remained as popular as ever.
There is a poignant bit of trivia concerning this movie. The United States Navy allowed Warner Brothers to film aboard one of its battleships, the U.S.S. Arizona which would be among those ships sunk at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.
Photos © Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures (1934)