On Chicken in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye

  • Michael Wainwright


While the critical reception for Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), a biopic about American entertainer and producer George M. Cohan, earned James Cagney (1899–1986) an Academy Award for Best Actor, the box-office success of the film persuaded its star to establish his own production company. Independence from the studio system afforded Cagney the creative freedom he desired, but his strategy backfired, with the remainder of the decade encompassing what Patrick McGilligan identifies as Cagney’s “leanest period of activity” (Cagney 112). Between 1942 and 1949, he appeared in only four films, three of which were the sum total of Cagney Productions. With the added pressure of “mediocre box office, poor distribution and even lawsuit difficulties (with the Sam Goldwyn Studio—Cagney Productions reneged on a space rental contract—the suit was settled out of court),” Cagney resigned himself to “a distribution-production deal with Warners and an agreement to return to profitable gangsterism” (112). Public Enemy (1931) had made Cagney a star, his new contract was “the logical retreat for the aging star” (112), and White Heat (1949) was the immediate result.


Game Theory Atom Bomb Emphasis Original Unwanted Sexual Attention Oedipus Complex 
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© Michael Wainwright 2016

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  • Michael Wainwright

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