Friday, June 4, 2010

Blonde Crazy (1931)

Blonde Crazy is a good-natured and cheerfully immoral little 1931 Warner Brothers pe-code gem which pairs Jimmy Cagney and Joan Blondell as a couple of roguish but engaging grifters.

Bert (played by Cagney) is the bellboy at a moderately swank hotel in an anonymous small city. Anne (Blondell) is down on her luck, but he manages to get her a job as a maid. Bert dreams of being a big shot with lots of money, and he’s been working a few minor cons. Anne seems like the perfect partner, and pretty soon they’re pulling in reasonably big money. But Bert isn’t as clever as he thinks he is, and he finds himself the victim of a swindle. He and Anne manage to pull off another lucrative job and seem like they’re headed for the big time. Anne however was never really happy with the idea of making dishonest money, and when she meets a smarmy but outwardly respectable stock broker she decides to quit the grifting game and get married and settle down.

This throws Bert’s plans into disarray since he’s been crazy about Anne since the first time he set eyes on her. But fate has several unexpected twists in store for both of them.

Cagney is definitely not in tough guy mode in this movie. There’s lots of slapping, but he’s always the one getting slapped! By Blondell. She’s definitely a feisty kind of gal.

Cagney is basically a decent guy who just doesn’t see any honest way of making a decent living, and under a cynical exterior he’s really a hopeless romantic. His problem is that he’s used to getting by with wise-cracks, and he can’t stop the wise-cracks for long enough to admit he’s madly in love with Anne, and to tell her he loves her.

There’s an abundance of snappy and witty dialogue. There’s great chemistry between Cagney and Blondell, and both have the perfect comic timing to carry off a light-hearted if slightly naughty caper comedy like this. And they’re both so thoroughly likeable. Blondell so often ended up playing the heroine’s best friend, so it’s great to see her in such a rewarding leading role.

Blonde Crazy is charmingly amoral and there’s no shortage of sexual innuendo. There’s even a nude scene featuring Blondell which is pretty hot stuff by the standards of 1931.

This is a fast-paced and completely delightful movie, not to be taken at all seriously but simply to be enjoyed.

Sadly this movie doesn't appear to be available on DVD, although it was released on VHS.


  1. Blonde Crazy actually turned up on TCM in Australia. Most of the old movies I watch are screened either on TCM or on the ABC (Australia's equivalent of the BBC) which still shows late-night movies. The ABC has the entire RKO film library as well as huge numbers of old British movies from studios like Rank and Gaumont-British. And the ABC shows everything commercial-free which is nice.

    I do buy some old movies on VD but it gets a bit expensive!

  2. That last comment should of course have said "on DVD" and not on VD!

    One day I'll learn to check my spelling before I hit the post button!

  3. I love this movie - bought it on a VHS on import, but I am hoping sooner or later it will see the light of day on DVD! Enjoyed your review. Judy

  4. Maybe I will move to Australia. I can watch old movies all night and surf all day (forgive my British cliche about surfing).

    I do love your blog I must admit. I could spend hours just going through the photos. Nothing sexier than film noir quite frankly.