[[quoteright:220:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/James_Cagney_6869.jpeg]]
[[caption-width-right:220: The ''[[UrExample original]]'' [[PublicEnemies Public Enemy.]]]]

-> ''"You dirty rat!"''
-->--'''[==]''[[BeamMeUpScotty Not]]'' James Cagney'''


James Francis Cagney was an American film actor most famous for gangster roles in the [[TheGreatDepression 1930s]] and [[TheForties 40s,]] as well as for his [[BeamMeUpScotty alleged]] {{catchphrase}}. He starred in some of the best gangster pictures ever made, including ''AngelsWithDirtyFaces,'' ''WhiteHeat,'' ''Film/TheRoaringTwenties,'' and ''Film/ThePublicEnemy,'' which is [[PopCultureOsmosis unfortunately mostly remembered]] for a scene in which he [[DomesticAbuse shoves a bowl of grapefruit in a woman's face.]]

What isn't commonly known is that Cagney began his career as [[RealMenWearPink a song & dance man]]. Even after he was {{type cast|ing}} as thugs, he [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nT0Cvzfh38E leaped at chances to act and dance]] in musicals whenever he could.

His tough guy persona wasn't all for show, though; Cagney staggered Warner Bros. by walking off the lot when the studio failed to honor his contract. His example set a precedent for fairer studio practices. On the other hand, Cagney's activism landed him hot water; he was branded a Commie in some circles. His iconic role in ''Yankee Doodle Dandy'' dispelled such rumors pretty quick.

Creator/MichaelJFox is one of his biggest fanboys, for [[PintsizedPowerhouse obvious reasons]]. He hosted a TV special on Cagney's life and times entitled ''Top of the World''.

TheOtherWiki has more to say [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Cagney here.]]

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Tropes [[Type Casting associated with James Cagney ]]
include:]]
* AllGirlsWantBadBoys
* BadassInANiceSuit
* BeamMeUpScotty: Cagney lampooned his 'best-known" line at the AFI awards.
-->"I never said, "[=MMMMmmm=] you dirty rat. ''({{beat}})'' What I actually said was "[[CaryGrant Judy, Judy, Judy!]]"
* CantGetAwayWithNuthin: His characters almost always got their comeuppance, largely due to the encroaching [[UsefulNotes/TheHaysCode Hays Code]] and to maintain PlausibleDeniability about "glorifying violence."
** ChronicallyKilledActor: Due to the above trope.
* TheCastShowOff: Was a RealLife street fighter and amateur boxer. He would insist on doing his own fight scenes in movies.
** During the filming of ''MisterRoberts'', director Creator/JohnFord either wanted to prove himself or thought it would be funny to try and intimidate Cagney. Cagney threatened a full-out beatdown if Ford kept pushing him. Ford backed off.
* DamnItFeelsGoodToBeAGangster
* DoNotDoThisCoolThing: Disclaimers aplenty.
* EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold
* LargeHam: Yet pulled off hamminess in an effective and un{{narm}}y way. Creator/StanleyKubrick once cited him as an example how to do seemingly over-the-top acting while still making it dramatic.[[note]]Kubrick was talking to Creator/StevenSpielberg, who at the time didn't like ''Film/TheShining'' because he felt that Creator/JackNicholson's acting was too hammy. After asking Spielberg to list off his favorite actors, Kubrick asked him "[[ArmorPiercingQuestion Where's James Cagney?]]" Spielberg was at a loss as to how he could have missed him, and that eventually caused him to change his mind about the film.[[/note]]
* MediaWatchdog: A lot of his best movies were made in the early days of UsefulNotes/TheHaysCode, when you could still get away with a little bit more. As the code grew in power, subsequent rereleases of some of his films had objectionable material cut. Most notably, ''ThePublicEnemy'' had next to ''no'' violence cut from its rereleases -- [[DoubleStandard but vague allusions to sexuality were.]]
* MommasBoy
* OurLawyersAdvisedThisTrope: His movies often come with a disclaimer decrying violence to deter accusations of glorifying violence. WarnerBrothers [[ViewersAreMorons maintained that gangster pictures were meant to serve as a warning]], but no one was fooled. [[TropesAreNotBad (Not that anyone was complaining, though...)]]
* PintSizedPowerhouse: According to the man himself, he insisted on fighting men who were bigger than him. Had he beaten up someone his "own size", Cagney felt he would have been taking advantage of them.
* SelfMadeMan
* VillainProtagonist
* WorkingClassHero: Perhaps the original. In the Depression era, Cagney's short looks, working-class accent and rambunctious energy made him an obvious hit with the times. He was a working-class Irish immigrant who didn't make his accent poshed to work in the business.
* YiddishAsASecondLanguage: Growing up in UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity, Cagney learnt [[http://www.mahnishmah.com/system/scripts/modules/admin/pages/show_page.cgi?p=13241 fluent Yiddish]] from his [[IrishmanAndAJew Jewish playmates]].
----