A lot of fun to watch. James Cagney is a con man and Joan Blondell is his partner in crime. Even though the way he says “honey” gets annoying it fits right in with his character. This is definitely one to spend time with.
Bert Harris (James Cagney) is a bellhop who thinks he’s got it knocked. He’s also a womanizer. He’s immediately attracted to Anne Roberts (Joan Blondell) who come to the hotel to try and get a job as a linen maid. Bert does some fast talking and she’s in. (Look fast for character actor Charles Lane as a hotel clerk).
A jewelry salesman is on the make for Anne. That turns into a successful blackmail scam for Bert and Anne with some help from Bert’s pal Hank (Nat Pendleton). After the score they leave town and head for another luxury hotel in another town.
Bert and Anne are sitting a table in a nightclub when Bert and a blonde on the dance floor exchange glances. A man bumps the blonde’s partner and Bert ends up punching him out. The blonde’s partner is grateful and they come to the table. She’s Helen and he’s con man Dapper Dan Barker.
Dan knows a counterfeiter who has to leave town. As it turns out he manages to scam Bert out of five grand. He and Helen and the counterfeiter have a good laugh on a train out of town.
Bert doesn’t want Anne to know he’s been taken. He sees an announcement in the paper about a society wedding. He turns that into a con and gets the five grand back. Now they head for New York to hunt down Dan. On the train Anne meets Joe Reynolds (Ray Milland). She eventually falls for his cultured ways and marries him. Bert’s starting to realize he played it all wrong with her. Before the wedding she comes up with a plan to take Dan for some big bucks.
It’s a year later. Anne is unhappily married and Bert is back from Europe. She asks him for help. Joe embezzled money from his stock broker firm and if the loss is discovered he’ll end up in the big house. Very interesting how it all turns out.
Even though this was pre-code there’s some quick dialogue to explain that Bert and Anne, even though they travel together, don’t stay in the same train compartment or hotel.