Monday, July 14, 2008

Jimmy Cagney: The Strawberry Blonde

The boat excursion here is reminiscent of the many typical summer amusements of that era. The fatal Slocum Disaster of 1906 departed from a pier just like this one in the vicinity of 5th Street on the East River
A synopsis of the film:
At the turn of the century, New York dentist Biff Grimes is reminiscing about the past when he receives a telephone call asking him to pull alderman Hugo Barnstead's aching tooth. Biff carries a grudge against Hugo, a man he has known from his youth: Their rivalry begins when both men fall in love with Virginia Brush, a strawberry blonde. Hugo arranges to meet Virginia "accidentally" in the park. In order that the meeting appear to be innocent, Virginia brings her friend, Amy Lind, a nurse who is outspokenly in favor of women's rights, and Hugo brings Biff. Hugo lures Biff into accompanying him by promising him that he can be Virginia's date, but when the foursome arrives in the country after a short carriage ride, Hugo pairs off with Virginia, leaving Biff to entertain Amy. To finish off Biff's disappointing evening, he is forced to pay for the carriage rental. The following week, Biff dates Virginia and spends all his money taking her to expensive places. When he tries to make another date with her, she turns him down, but Biff keeps trying and eventually Virginia agrees to meet him in the park. To Biff's surprise, Amy keeps the date in Virginia's place. When Biff learns from a passing friend that Virginia and Hugo eloped earlier that day, Amy does her best to console him. Eventually, Biff asks Amy if he can see her again, and over time, they fall in love and marry. One evening, Virginia invites Biff and Amy to dine with her and Hugo. Hugo spends the evening bragging about his wealth and then offers to bring Biff into his firm. Biff accepts his offer, but is frustrated when he learns that he is not expected to do much except sign his name to various papers. The reason for this becomes clear when the firm is accused of graft. Biff is held responsible for the crimes and Hugo, whose name does not appear on any papers, goes free. Things become even blacker when Biff's father, who is working on one of the firm's projects, is killed when a building collapses due to the use of inferior materials. Biff is held responsible and is sent to jail. By the time he is released, he has completed a correspondence school course in dentistry, and he and Amy move to a new neighborhood. Meanwhile, Hugo has gone on to a successful career in politics. Remembering these events, Biff vows vengeance on Hugo. When Hugo and Virginia arrive, they are surprised to discover that Biff is the dentist. Hugo and Virginia cannot stop quarreling and it is clear that they have a miserable marriage. Biff gets his revenge by pulling Hugo's tooth without gas, and realizes suddenly that he has a good life with Amy and is very glad that he did not marry Virginia, especially when Amy reveals that she is pregnant.

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