The Strawberry Blonde
The Strawberry Blonde (1941),co-starring Cagney with Olivia de Havilland and Rita Hayworth (in the title role) is a delightful and amusing period piece.
Cagney is Biff Grimes, who, with most of the men in town, fervently admires Virginia Brush (Hayworth) from afar. However, on a blind date, Biff's friend Hugo Barnstead (Jack Carson) nabs Virginia for his own, leaving Biff "stuck" with Amy (de Havilland). Amy is an outspoken young woman "whose mother wore bloomers and whose aunt was on the stage!" (Very racy stuff for 1910.) Chiselling Hugo causes a lot more trouble for the brash Biff, but before the film's close Biff realizes at last that he is the luckier man, and Hugo gets his just desserts.
The New York World-Telegram opined "Cagney is always vital and believeable, equally at ease in his comedy and serious scenes." And Time reported that "dark-eyed Olivia de Havilland, with her electric winks, each followed by a galvanizing 'Exactly!'" came close to stealing the show. The Telegram's statement that The Strawberry Blonde was a "friendly, informal and good-humored show" still holds true today.
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