Thursday, May 30, 2013

Battle Royale #15: Battle of the Tough Guys

Welcome to the fifteenth Battle Royale here at The Most Beautiful Fraud in the World.   It is an ongoing series that will pit two classic cinematic greats against each other - and you can vote for who is the greater by clicking your choice over in the poll at the top of the sidebar. 

Okay, perhaps using the term tough guys to describe this round's combatants is a bit unfair.  Perhaps it lowers what these two men did in their cinematic careers, to a mere one-dimensional stereotype.  These were more than mere one-dimensional tough guys - much much more.  Edward G. Robinson spoke seven languages, collected art - he even ran an art gallery with Vincent Price for a while - and was a man of great sophistication and taste.  James Cagney, meanwhile, no matter how many thugs and gangsters he would play, always considered himself to be a song and dance man - and even Oscar thought so, since his one and only Best Actor Academy Award was given to him for playing just that, song and dance man extraordinaire, George M. Cohan in 1942's Yankee Doodle Dandy.  Sure, both men grew up on the Lower East Side (Robinson was born in Romania but moved to NYC when he was nine), so they did have a childhood that would likely grow a tough guy or two, but these men were more than just their filmed image - more than just tough guys.  But hey, this is the Battle of the Tough Guys, so let us move on with that in mind.

Both men made their screen breakthroughs in 1931 playing gangsters - Robinson in Little Caesar and Cagney in Public Enemy - and would go onto long and storied careers playing both thugs and gangsters (ie, those aforementioned tough guys) as well as brave and loyal heroes.  Cagney's work in such varied offerings as The Mayor of Hell and White Heat to Man of a Thousand Faces and even A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Robisnon's performances in equally varied films like Tiger Shark and Key Largo to Double Indemnity and Soylent Green, make these two actors Hollywood legends (no doubt about that), but still, it is their tough guy image, their gangster roles, their hoods-with-heart (and sometimes no heart) that these great actors will best be remembered.  It is Robinson asking, "Is this the end of Rico?" and it is Cagney yelling "Made it Ma! Top of the World!"  And now it is your turn to tell the world which one of these Hollywood Tough Guys has made it.  Just go on over to the poll, positioned conveniently near the top of the sidebar, as cast your vote.  And remember, you can spout off all ya want in the comments section of this post (and please do, we like that), but your vote will only be counted if you go to the poll and make your decision.  And also, tell all your friends to vote, so we can get that vote total up to the triple digits.  Voting runs through Midnight EST on the night of Thursday, June 13th, just a little over two weeks from the starting gate, NOW EXTENDED UNTIL THURSDAY, JUNE 27TH AT MIDNIGHT, and the results will be announced and posted the following day.

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