The Strawberry Blonde (1941)

Genres - Comedy, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Feb 21, 1941 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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Raoul Walsh's excellent adaptation of James Hagan's stage fable One Sunday Afternoon features Olivia De Haviland in a rare comic part. Told in flashback, the film stars James Cagney as a turn-of-the-century dentist who contemplates doing away with his next patient (Jack Carson), a former friend who years earlier stole the girl (Rita Hayworth) he wanted, and later framed him for a crime which landed him in prison for five years. It's something of a novelty to see Cagney and former cowboy Walsh, both of whom made their name in tough-guy pictures, work so well in a different genre. Cagney goes against type as a sucker, constantly being outwitted by his fatuous con-man "friend." While it doesn't approach the satiric bite of Preston Sturges, the film recalls his work in its suggestion of the essential corruption of city life, and a sure sense of the kind of characters who usually end up on the top of the heap. But in a film where poetic justice prevails, Walsh has chosen to soften the story even more by cloaking it in nostalgia and period elements. Cagney, Carson, and De Haviland are all excellent, and, in her biggest role to date, Hayworth has rarely looked more beautiful.