To live in New York you have to have ambition and fortitude against all odds, and battle it through when the going is toughest. That’s the basic theme of City for Conquest, starring James Cagney and Ann Sheridan, from Aben Kandel’s novel. Picture carries plenty of dramatic punch.
Picture is natural for Cagney, who troupes through role of an unwilling prizefighter in vigorous fashion, taking the tough breaks of partial blindness with heroic courage. It’s Cagney all the way, but aided considerably by Sheridan for romance, plus two newcomers to films from the stage, Arthur Kennedy and Elia Kazan, who indicate they will stick around Hollywood some time.
Cagney turns down a professional boxing career to become a truck driver, but takes on a fight to help pay the musical tuition of brother Arthur Kennedy. Then when Sheridan goes into professional dancing with a slick partner (Anthony Quinn) and headed for big time, Cagney takes buildup for welterweight crown and fights champ who deliberately blinds him in a fight with resin gloves.
Idea of Kennedy conducting a Carnegie symphony of his own composition (which consumes around seven minutes near the finish) is reminiscent of the George Gershwin factual event of several years ago (when another East Side boy clicked).
Sheridan is excellent as the girl, displaying dancing abilities in several ballroom numbers with Quinn.