UK Premiere: Blonde Crazy
Still from Blonde Crazy, part of Cinema Rediscovered

UK Premiere: Blonde Crazy

classified PG

Pre-code Hollywood: Rules are Made to be Broken


Please note: This was screened in July 2022

Roy Del Ruth
James Cagney, Joan Blondell, Louis Calhern
79 mins, 1931, USA
Primary language

“Oh, that dirty, double-crossin' rat. I'd like to get my own hooks on him. I'd tear him to pieces.”

When a cheeky bellhop (a young James Cagney) meets a dishy blonde (the effervescent Joan Blondell) and gets her installed in his hotel as a chambermaid through nefarious means, the pair set a criminal scheme into motion. Here’s the grift: they entrap and blackmail married men who are up to no good. The problem is that they’re wide open to being conned by a bigger fish, and Louis Calhern is precisely that fish.

Released under the title Larceny Lane in Great Britain, Cagney and Blondell’s fiery and frank chemistry is only made sexier by the uncertainty of their loyalty to each other, both criminally and romantically. Although initially there appears to be a more respectable suitor in the mix (Ray Milland), he, too, shows a penchant for felony. In spite of a rather unexpectedly sweet conclusion, it’s pretty obvious no one who made this movie was interested in ‘respectability’....whatever that word’s supposed to mean.

Words by season co-curators Pamela Hutchinson and Christina Newland. With thanks to Park Circus and Warner Bros.

Christina Newland is the lead film critic at the i paper and a journalist on film, pop culture, and boxing at Criterion, Sight & Sound, BBC, MUBI, Empire, and others. She runs an award-winning newsletter, Sisters Under the Mink, on the depiction of women in crime film and TV. Her first book, an anthology entitled She Found it at the Movies: Women Writers on Sex, Desire and Cinema, was published by Red Press in 2020. She tweets at @christinalefou.