The Crowd Roars (1932)

“It’s a matter of LIFE and DEATH!” Directed by Howard Hawks (Scarface), The Crowd Roars boasts a stellar cast that includes James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Ann Dvorak (who portrayed “Cesca” in Scarface), Eric Linden, Guy Kibbee (as “Pop Greer”) and Frank McHugh (as the ill-fated “Spud Connors”). Cagney portrays a drunken race car driver (Joe Greer) who tries to discourage his younger brother Eddie from following in his footsteps, while protecting him from the “booze and women” that he believes are leading to his own downfall. The race car sequences are about what you would expect from an early 1930’s flick – very unrealistic with the fake screen looming behind every driver. All in all, it’s a fun ride – fast paced with loads of witty dialogue. By the end, Cagney has hit rock bottom but (what do you know!) he eventually gets a shot at redemption. Critic Leonard Maltin remarked, “Cagney in typically cocky role, familiar plot devices, but well done by Warner Bros. stock company.” Look for cameos by actual Indy race car drivers such as Billy Arnold, Fred Frame, Ralph Hepburn, Wilbur Shaw, Shorty Cantlon, Mel Keneally and Stubby Stubblefield, as well as famous racing mechanic Spider Matlock. The film was remade as Indianapolis Speedway in 1939 with Pat O’Brien, John Payne and Ann Sheridan.

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