Smart Money

Smart Money

Smart Money is a 1931 film starring Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney, the only time Robinson and Cagney made a movie together, despite being the two leading gangster actors at Warner Brothers studios all through the 1930s. Smart Money was shot after Robinson's signature film Little Caesar had been released and Cagney's breakthrough masterpiece The Public Enemy had been filmed. However, at the time The Public Enemy had not been released yet and so Smart Money is the only film in which Cagney played the kind of supporting role usually done by Humphrey Bogart later in the '30s. Robinson plays a barber who goes to the big city to become a gambler but finds himself rooked by a blonde and a gang of thugs, whereupon he vows to take revenge, with the help of his own henchman in the formidable form of Cagney. The movie was directed by Alfred E. Green.

A gentle-spirited film, Smart Money features some intriguing Cagney sequences, particularly a pre-Code pantomime of cunnilingus. Critics noted how well Robinson and Cagney played off each other but this was their only screen pairing (some cinema aficionados refer to this dilemma as the "Gene Autry-Roy Rogers effect" or the "John Wayne-Gary Cooper effect" or the "Cary Grant-any other commensurately important actor effect;" it's rather like Wild West gunslingers reluctant to go up against each other).

Boris Karloff, not yet the icon he would soon become following his performance in Frankenstein that same year, has a brief role early in this film.

Margaret Livingston, who plays the District Attorney's girlfriend, had portrayed the "Woman from the City" in F. W. Murnau's 1927 masterpiece Sunrise.


  • Edward G. Robinson ... Nick 'The Barber' Venizelos
  • James Cagney ... Jack
  • Evalyn Knapp ... Irene Graham
  • Ralf Harolde ... Sleepy Sam, earlier mistaken for Hickory Short
  • Noel Francis ... Marie (Sleepy Sam's girl)
  • Margaret Livingston ... District Attorney's girl
  • Maurice Black ... Greek barber
  • Billy House ... Irontown salesman-gambler (as William House)
  • Paul Porcasi ... Alexander Amenoppopolus
  • Gladys Lloyd ... Second cigar stand clerk
  • Polly Walters ... Lola (manicurist)
  • Boris Karloff ... Sport Williams (uncredited)
  • Charles Lane ... Hotel desk clerk (uncredited)

See also

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