[[caption-width-right:300:The ''[[UrExample original]]'' [[Film/PublicEnemies Public Enemy]].]]

-> ''"You dirty rat!"''
-->--'''[==]''[[BeamMeUpScotty Not]]'' James Cagney''' [[note]] The quote originally spawned from the 1932 film "Taxi!", and while he technically said the words, the line In question was actually "Come out and take it, you dirty yellow-bellied rat, or I'll give it to you through the door!."[[/note]]

James Francis Cagney (July 17, 1899 March 30, 1986) was an American film actor most famous for his 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 ''Film/AngelsWithDirtyFaces,'' ''Film/WhiteHeat,'' ''Film/{{The Roaring Twenties|1939}},'' 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 even branded a Commie in some circles, although his iconic role in ''Film/YankeeDoodleDandy'' 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''.

Cagney's life story was recently immortalized in an off-broadway musical simply titled ''Cagney'', following his humble beginnings as a dock worker, his success and eventual falling out with Warner Bros., up to his acceptance of a lifetime achievement award from the American Film Institute.

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

!!Partial filmography for James Cagney:

* ''Film/BlondeCrazy'' (1931)
* ''Film/ThePublicEnemy'' (1931)
* ''Film/FootlightParade'' (1933)
* ''Theatre/AMidsummerNightsDream'' (1935)
* ''Film/AngelsWithDirtyFaces'' (1938)
* ''Film/{{The Roaring Twenties|1939}}'' (1939)
* ''Film/TheStrawberryBlonde'' (1941)
* ''Film/YankeeDoodleDandy'' (1942)
* ''Theatre/TheTimeOfYourLife'' (1948)
* ''Film/WhiteHeat'' (1949)
* ''Literature/MisterRoberts'' (1955)
* ''Film/OneTwoThree'' (1961)
* ''Literature/{{Ragtime}}'' (1981)

!!Tropes associated with James Cagney's work include:

%%* AllGirlsWantBadBoys
%%* BadassInANiceSuit
* 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 encroaching UsefulNotes/TheHaysCode and its rules about "glorifying violence."
%%* DamnItFeelsGoodToBeAGangster
* DoNotDoThisCoolThing: Had to be invoked, due to his gangster characters and the Hays Code, with disclaimers aplenty.
* EscapistCharacter: Most of his characters invoked the best examples of DamnItFeelsGoodToBeAGangster.
%%* EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas
* EvilIsCool: Even if the studio pretends to have invoked that they think it isn't.
%%* 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 "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, ''Film/ThePublicEnemy'' had next to ''no'' violence cut from its rereleases -- [[DoubleStandard but vague allusions to sexuality were left untouched.]]
%%* MommasBoy
* OurLawyersAdvisedThisTrope: His movies often come with a disclaimer decrying violence to deter accusations of glorifying violence. Creator/WarnerBros maintained that gangster pictures were meant to serve as a warning, but no one was fooled. [[TropesAreTools (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.