James Cagney in Taxi!
Taxi! is vintage Cagney. Released in January, 1932 this was his 8th movie since arriving in Hollywood less than 2 years earlier in 1930. As the title suggests Cagney plays a cab driver (Matt Nolan) in New York City. In the 1930's by far the majority of Americans lived in rural areas or small towns. Cagney was really the first tough street kid movie star. His rapid fire speech patterns and wise guy attitude made him the opposite of a rube. His take no crap from anyone posturing made him a hero to millions of boys and men.
Matt Nolan is an independent cabbie up against a large taxi corporation bent on pushing the little guys out of business. The beautiful Loretta Young plays Sue Riley. Her father, Pop Riley, played by Guy Kibbee, goes to prison for the murder of a man hired by the corrupt taxi syndicate to smash Pop's cab with his truck. Pop winds up dying in his prison cell of a heart attack. Later at a nightclub, Matt confronts the guy responsible for Pop's downfall, Buck Gerard. Buck pulls a switchblade and in the ensuing scuffle stabs Matt's kid brother Danny to death.
Matt and Sue fall in love and get married. The climax of the picture concerns Sue's attempts to stop Matt from exacting revenge on Buck. Matt, in typical Cagney fashion, is out for blood. He won't rest until he has avenged his brother's murder. The ending is as exciting as 1930's action gets, with Cagney uttering lines like, "Come out and take it, you dirty, yellow-bellied rat, or I'll give it to you through the door."
This movie features some great stock footage of Manhattan from the era and it is also of interest to note that Cagney speaks Yiddish in one scene, something he picked up from the Jewish kids in his neighborhood on the Upper East Side. One of Cagney's rivals as a movie gangster, George Raft, also has a small part in a dance contest scene.
Loretta Young and Cagney have good chemistry together but this is really a one man show. If you like James Cagney then you will love Taxi!, if not there's no point in watching it.
Photos © Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures (1932)