An hour’s entertainment for the boys in the now established golden hearted hoodlum manner of James Cagney.
Foundation of the tale [from the play by Kenyon Nicholson] is the strife of the independent taxi owner whom the syndicates run off the most desirable corner stands. This leads to the girl’s father drawing a jail sentence when he shoots the truck driver he knows has purposely smashed his cab because he defied the leader of the strong arm squad. She’s on her own after that, first battling with Cagney, then marrying him and finally trying to save him from killing this same leader.
Taxi! speeds along interestingly until near the finish, where the script cheats Cagney of his revenge and thereby saves him from prison. It’s a scenario compromise which will leave the majority of fans unsatisfied.
Weaving through the plot is George E. Stone and Leila Bennett, as friends of the lovers, with Bennett doing an exceptionally good piece of work as a dumb, prattling waitress. Further player support is unimportant, although Dorothy Burgess convinces in doing the menace’s moll.
Loretta Young does better than usual as the orphaned miss. At least there is more solidity to her portrayal than is generally so in her case.
The dialog is distinctly in the vernacular of the characters, director Roy Del Ruth has given it pace, and Cagney jauntily carries the major burden.
The director, incidentally, has also given the film a corking laugh start in Cagney conversationally rescuing a well-played old Hebrew from a cop.