In a modern and urban equivalent for the now defunct Wild West thriller, "G-Men," the terrier-like James Cagney swaggers his way through a tempestuous epic of the Department of Justice. Technical perfection and a deft, rapid-fire tempo combine to obscure the insanity of the plot, and, when public enemies sway to the stutter of government machine guns, Willie cheers just as he would if the last rustler had cashed in his chips. The philosopher may believe that "G-Men" misses fire as social drama, but he will hardly find it boring.
After sitting for a time in his law office, chucking out politicians who seek to corrupt his legal talents, Cagney joins the Department of Justice to avenge a gang-slaughter comrade. This Sir Bedivere of the Bronx finishes training school with characteristic verve, just in time to help Uncle Sam grapple with a middlewestern crime wave. Chicago becomes a hades of riddled corpses, black Cadillac touring cars, and sub-machine guns. Other federal men, perhaps less gullible than the screen loving public, express their amazement to find that Cagney grew up in New York side-by-side with most of the first ten public enemies, and that he knows where they carry their guns. It is then a comparatively simple matter to get one of Cagney's former sweethearts to squeal on her husband, and the claws of justice unflex with telling effect. "G-Men" manages to keep its sympathies on the sunny side of the law, and is thus an improvement over previous films of the gangster type. Those critics who do not find the diminutive James attractive will rejoice to learn that, after being pursued as usual by an incredible number of beautiful women, Cagney weds the least attractive of the lot.
"Let's Live Tonight," with Tullio Carminati and Lilian Harvey, is one of those cinemas which strive to be charming. Diffused lighting, yachts, Monte Carlo, the Riviera in the moonlight, and a champagne supper for two--all these ingredients achieve a sort of Midsummer Nights Dream atmosphere. Carminati, rich and cynical, complains that love is an ephemeral flower, but that, of course, is before he meets Miss Harvey. Also on the program is a very interesting installment of the "March of Time," including a Russian chapter of unusual brilliance.