Where Action Cagney Came Back
Blood On The Sun (1945) Exposes Japan's "Tanaka Plan"
"Cagney --- With Both Fists Flying," said posters, and it was about time. Three years had gone since Jim threw a punch, then left Warners for (he thought) greener field of independent production. Johnny Come Lately was first try at that, plentiful admissions sold thanks to good will from Yankee Doodle Dandy, but disappointment for most once they got in. Everybody but Cagney wanted him rough and tough. The star and producing brother William were bent on dismantling an image that had sold for well past a decade. United Artists would release, partially finance, but not control content of the vehicles, thus Johnny Come Lately, which thanks to Cagney presence and wartime seats habitually filled, did show profit. The brothers overspent developing properties, reached beyond money's grasp, and had no meaningful asset save Jim. A second under their banner, Blood On The Sun, would at least come back to basics and put him again in action, a right product at the right time, and most successful of films the Cagney brothers would make.
|Jim About To Take Receipt Of Fabled "Tanaka Plan"|
Blood On The Sun has demon reporter Cagney on alert for stuff-of-legend "The Tanaka Memorial," or Plan, both label on written scheme for Japan's world takeover, the "Original" Mein Kampf, according to post-credits scroll. Such a document was smuggled out of Japan in the late 20's, translated into Chinese, published, further translated into most known languages, further published worldwide. Lots said it was forged, most vehemently
Against much that Blood On The Sun did right, there was nagging lack of energy Warner Bros. would have lent this otherwise cut-from-mold Cagney vehicle. He clearly tried to do things an old-fashioned way, but no house style is reflected here, and however weak some of Warners' were, they all at least had verve plus JC presence. Grand National attempt of Great Guy and Something To Sing About, for which Jim jumped ship before, should have cooled further effort to emulate the brand, but the Cagney brothers' determination died hard, Blood On The Sun a last success they'd have as fully independent venture. Reception beyond 1945 cooled as Blood On The Sun fell into quagmire of 70's Public Domain, and non-stop duping from 16mm prints in televised circulation. There are DVD's, lots in fact, from which one can track odor of complaints at Amazon. Is there outcry so enraged as that of a customer laid low by bad videos? Neither discs nor free streaming can be trusted, it seems. For the record, the Roan Group and Hal Roach labels have best overall transfers. Blood On The Sun isn't likely to engage anyone's interest or outlay for a Blu-Ray, it being minor Cagney despite pleasures enumerated, but odder things have happened, and someone may yet perform High-Def rescue.