As a huge James Cagney fan, I can't believe I've been doing The INCspotlight for as long as I have without reviewing a Cagney movie, and it's time I did something about that. Given that we commemorate Memorial Day this week, I thought I'd take a look at one of his lesser known and more underrated films - The Fighting 69th, set during World War I.
Jerry Plunkett (James Cagney) is a new recruit into the ranks of the 69th Infantry Regiment, and one with quite a rough streak. He's belligerent, arrogant, and disdainful of authority, and he gets worse when he's sent to France and the front lines. He's not even afraid to trade barbs - and punches - with his sergeant, "Big Mike" Wynn (Alan Hale). Nobody, not Wynn, not Major "Wild Bill" Donovan (George Brent), not even the kindly Father Duffy (Pat O'Brien) are able to tame Plunkett's wild streak. Donovan wants Plunkett out of the army, as he's bad for the regiment's discipline and cohesion, but Duffy asks Donovan to cut Plunkett some slack.