James Cagney and Pat O'Brien are one of the legendary duos in old Hollywood films. The lifelong friends starred in nine films together. Some of the films were classics like Angels with Dirty Faces (1938), while others were mediocre, but Cagney and O'Brien's great chemistry and mutual admiration always came through onscreen.
|Rocky Sullivan (James Cagney) pulls a gun on his old pal, Father Jerry Conolly (Pat O'Brien), in Angels with Dirty Faces (1938).|
|James Cagney, Pat O'Brien and Frank McHugh on the set of Here Comes the Navy (1934).|
|The two old pals on the set of their last film, Ragtime (1981).|
|James Cagney, Ann Sheridan and Pat O'Brien in Torrid Zone (1940).|
Here's a brief rundown of three of Cagney and O'Brien's best films and where you can view one or all of them for your own St. Paddy's Day marathon.
The Irish in Us (1935)
Cagney and O'Brien play brothers who are battling for the affections of Olivia de Havilland. This one can be hard to find, but it's a great deal of fun. DVD.
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)
Cagney and O'Brien play boyhood friends who take very different paths in life thanks to a cruel twist of fate. Cagney becomes a ruthless gangster, while O'Brien becomes an incorruptible priest. Angels with Dirty Faces is one of the greatest gangster films, and Cagney gives perhaps his best performance, especially in the well-known execution scene. DVD and video on demand.
The Fighting 69th (1940)
This World War I drama is basically Angels with Dirty Faces in the trenches, with Cagney as a smart-mouthed, cowardly private and O'Brien as yet another saintly padre on a mission from God. The Fighting 69th contains my very favorite Cagney and O'Brien scene (clip below). The more insouciant Cagney becomes ("Hiya, St. Francis, how's all the monks?"), the more O'Brien puts on his attitude of saintly suffering. DVD and video on demand.