11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
a charming, touching and amusing drama.,
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This review is from: Strawberry Blonde [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
nearing the end of his contract with "warner bros," james cagney had been in the position where he could pick and choose his film roles that were more to his liking, thanks no doubt to his regular disputes and disagreemnets with jack warner.
this film, "strawberry blonde" is an ideal example as this stands as one of his crowning achievements of this period, partly as this is a change of pace for him.
as always, it is cagney who commands attention as the struggling up-and-coming dentistry student who lives in 19th century america with his lovable old man(played by the ever dependable alan hale).
after becoming acquainted with olivia dehavilland and rita hayworth on behalf of local crook jack carson, cagney is in two minds as to which of the two women his heart belongs. as the film rolls by, it becomes all too clear which woman he loves and cares for. the scene in the park where the two men and women attempt to become properly acquainted is one of the funniest in the film and it deserves repeated viewing.
the film alternates between comedy and drama with relative ease, with the production focusing on the latter in the film's second half after cagney suffers a run of misfortune and also of tragedy, thanks to working for a crooked and shady businessman(jack carson).
however, the best laugh of the film is saved for last and the viewers should have a whale of a time in witnessing the just desserts of one character in particular.
for me, james cagney and olivia dehavilland take the acting honours. their opening scene together is both amusing and effective, followed by some brilliantly staged dramatic scenes and the good on-screen chemistry between them, just about matches that of olivia dehavilland and errol flynn. sadly, i consider alan hale to be rather wasted in his role as the elder grimes family member: he simply hasn't enough to do and isn't part of the main story until his last scene. for a man of hale's acting talent and being one of the greatest character actors in the history of hollywood, his limited role in this film is something of an insult. nevertheless, he gives it all he has. rita hayworth is o.k but i can't really take her character seriously as she spends most of the time with that rather annoying and irksome grin on her face.
i am impressed with the sets and the way the studio backlot was altered to create an impression and a good one at that, of life in the 1890s. the horse and carriages, the costumes, gaslights and furniture all look authentic, not to mention imaginative.
i'm glad that james cagney finished his last years at "warner bros." with some good, solid material at his disposal and "strawberry blonde" is counted as being amongst the best.