"In my day, men didn't beat their wives. The wives had pistols!"
** out of 5
I really had no idea what to expect coming into this film. It's certainly not a noir or even a super-suspenseful film, but more of a nostalgic small-town drama (it's set in 1906, which should be a good tipoff of the tone of the story) with a bit of action toward the end. This was James Cagney's follow-up to his oscar-winning turn as George M Cohan in Yankee Doodle Dandy."
If anything, I'd characterize this as a love story between Cagney's tramp newspaperman and the old widowed newspaper owner, Grace George, with the colorful cast of small-town characters being effectively filled out by the likes of Margaret Hamilton, Arthur Hunnicutt, Marjorie Main, Hattie McDaniel, George Cleveland, Edward McNamara, and Robert Barrat, with the junior romance being played out by Majorie Lord and William Henry.
The story starts out really slow and gentle, but it does work itself up eventually to some surprisingly nuanced and tough moments, before finally petering out back into a mild nostalgic everyone-wins ending.