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City for Conquest [VHS] (1940)

James Cagney , Ann Sheridan , Anatole Litvak , Jean Negulesco  |  NR |  VHS Tape
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: James Cagney, Ann Sheridan, Frank Craven, Donald Crisp, Frank McHugh
  • Directors: Anatole Litvak, Jean Negulesco
  • Writers: Aben Kandel, John Wexley
  • Producers: Anatole Litvak, Hal B. Wallis, William Cagney
  • Format: Black & White, Original recording reissued, NTSC
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Turner Home Ent
  • VHS Release Date: July 5, 2000
  • Run Time: 104 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0790750309
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #665,941 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


City for Conquest (1940) is a long and ambitious film, with prestige-picture scale and production values (including Sol Polito and James Wong Howe as cameramen) and a cast including James Cagney, Ann Sheridan, Arthur Kennedy, Frank McHugh, Donald Crisp, Anthony Quinn, Jerome Cowan, and--in his first of only two film performances--future directorial giant Elia Kazan. Working-stiff Cagney loves his gifted musician brother (Kennedy) and childhood sweetheart (Sheridan), a dancer with her own aspirations for the limelight; he becomes a boxer in order to pay for the brother's musical education. Triumph and tragedy ensue. The film's avowed aim, and Kennedy's, is to create an urban symphony of New York and the many little people striving against all odds to rise; there's even a one-man Greek chorus--Frank Craven, the Stage Manager of the recent Our Town--to hammer the theme periodically. But over the previous decade Warners' honest, hard-charging, small-scale movies had collectively achieved that "symphony," without the pompous flourishes Anatole Litvak's direction brings to the project. --Richard T. Jameson

Product Description

A divorced woman moves to a new city with her child, trying to build her life again. She joins the choir of a local church but has some personality conflicts with the choirmaster, a curmudgeonly old gentleman who will accept nothing but perfection from his group. As Christmas approaches and the choir practices for a big show and the director pushes them all to their emotional limits, she contemplates quitting the group.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Blinded by the Light April 13, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
CITY FOR CONQUEST could have been just one of those late 30s fight movies with an underdog battling for the title. But thanks to director Anatole Litwak and a sterling cast led by James Cagney, Ann Sheridan, and Arthur Kennedy, the result tells a timeless tale based on the adage that Broadway devours the very performers seeking to bask in its bright lights. This movie is not only a forum for Cagney, but it instead functions as a three way tale with Sheridan and Kennedy facing a similar destiny: how far can one go in pursuit of the Golden Dream? Their collective fates are intertwined as they seek the spotlight. Cagney is Young Samsom, a talented welterweight who fights only occasionally since he realizes that the fight business is likely to lead only to post-career punchiness. Kennedy is his brother Eddie, a pianist who dreams of someday conducting an orchestra at the Carnegie, but is instead reduced to banging out cheap jitterbug tunes to make a buck. Sheridan is Peg, a dancer whose eyes are filled with the glare of a Broadway that leaves no room for the love of a boxer who fights only to please her. Of the trio, it is only Kennedy who remains true to his talent. Cagney sells out to win back Sheridan, who in turn sells out by dumping Cagney for a smooth talking dance partner, (Anthony Quinn), in whose oily charm very nearly steals the show. The glare of the lights of Broadway does far more than light up the stage for wannabes. It functions as a metaphor that tests the ability of these star wannabes to recognize the twin-edged danger that stardom promises. For some, like Kennedy, those lights motivate them to try harder while not surrendering their basic selves to a glare that can destroy as easily as it can attract. For others, like Cagney and Sheridan, those bright lights produce a blindness that results in a near-tragic ending that resonates even many decades later.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetry in Motion August 30, 2006
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
For me, "City For Conquest" is so honest in its emotion that I totally accept what others might call over-the-top melodramatics. It mirrors, on the outside, what most of us feel on the inside, especially in the dynamics of relationships. Think about those times when you were in love with someone and all the positives and negatives that were part of it; remember the emotional level you felt. Then see if you can feel that in the outward expression of this movie. The Max Steiner score is almost non-stop and punctuates each scene with an added flair of romanticism. The acting, especially by Ann Sheridan, is heartfelt.

My problem with the dvd version is that it's restored. Most of Frank Craven's "Greek Chorus" comments, though well placed in the context of the film, slows the rhythm and is totally superfluous. It adds nothing. The version, according to literature I have read, which we see on TCM or vhs tape, is the 1948 re-release edition which removed almost all of Frank Craven's scenes. I much prefer that version to the restored original although Craven's added scenes don't really hurt the heart of the movie.

If you are not afraid to feel and you embrace the unabashed romanticism of that era, "City For Conquest" is a must-see.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Same Story, Better Cast May 3, 2005
Format:VHS Tape
"City for Conquest" is a sort of conglomeration of old movie cliches; older brother risks his life and limb in the ring to help put brother through school, childhood sweetheart leaves boy next door for fame and fortune only to discover true love is what she left behind, aging boxing manager with a heart of gold, and on and on. What stands out about this movie is we see it all coming but we enjoy it because it happens to be well made. Starting with James Cagney and acknowledging the contributions all the way down the line, we have a great cast of characters. Some, like Anthony Quinn and Arthur Kennedy, we catch early in their career. Heck, there's even Donald Crisp playing someone under the age of 70. Ann Sheridan continues to be the B movie's Rita Hayworth in her role as the girl next door. There are a lot of good scenes including some fancy foot work in the ring and on the dance floor. It works pretty good and it has the expected ending but even that works better than average.

All in all a decent movie. I gave it a "3" because there are a lot of "4" star movies in my book that are decidedly better than "City for Conquest". However, I came away from it with a tear on my cheek and a smile on my face and for that I thought it was worth reviewing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cagney and Sheridan opus August 17, 2006
"City for Conquest", a 1940 Warner Brothers release, is based on a pretentious novel published in the late thirties, a novel written to capture the heart of a great city, New York. The story traces the lives of a group of friends raised in poverty and striving in different ways to improve their lot. Cagney plays a good guy with no particular ambition other than to be happy. Sheridan plays his girlfriend, a ballroom dancer with aspirations to the big time. Arthur Kennedy plays Cagney's brother, a musician who writes serious music but teaches tenement kids the piano. There are other characters along the way including Anthony Quinn as Sheridan's odious dance partner and Elia Kazan as a small time crook who hits the big time.

James Cagney's best screen partner was probably Ann Sheridan. They complimented each other perfectly with their hard boiled sentiment. "City for Conquest's" greatest claim to fame is that at last they were teamed in a top flight A film. Cagney is superb as usual and Sheridan's part is very emotional and she rises to the challenge very well. This film contributed a lot to her stardom. Arthur Kennedy is perfectly cast as the intellectual and he is also excellent.

The film covers a lot of ground with prizefights, ballroom dancing, a symphony and good scenes of tenement life but Anatole Litvak's direction is slow so the film drags quite often. Elia Kazan adds a shot of energy in all his scenes. The climactic prize fight is harrowing. Sheridan and Quinn are limited dancers and the dancing sequences are unimpressive with an obvious use of a double for Sheridan in one scene. Also Frank Craven frames the story as a hobo. His corny philosophising could have been dispensed with and dates the film badly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars In This Corner... James Cagney
By the end of the 1930s, James Cagney, like his fellow movie gangster Humphrey Bogart, was ready to make the jump to traditional leading man roles instead of headlining genre... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Silver Screen Videos
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun movie and fine performances
I give it four stars for the boxing sequence. I used to love this movie as a kid. Watching it recently, I can see why it didn't quite make it at the time it was released. Read more
Published 2 months ago by tomtom7
5.0 out of 5 stars City for conquest has my vote! 5 stars
Very beautiful movie. I love this drama it just touches your Heart. Cagney made me cry in this one. Niagara falls even at the very end of the film. Truly beautiful.
Published 4 months ago by yadira guevara
4.0 out of 5 stars Good boxing film
I expected to see more fight scenes but this was still a good fight film and I like the way Cagney handled himself.
Published 6 months ago by Rich Patriaco
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic
An old and hard to find movie, found it used on Amazon. One of my husband's favorites, I was thrilled to find it at a reasonable price. Read more
Published 13 months ago by gigi
5.0 out of 5 stars A romantic sports movie
This movie was a movie that would entertain boxing enthusiast and any sports fan all the way to the person who watches movies for the art of the acting. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Perry Terrell
5.0 out of 5 stars Husband loves it!
My husband has always been a big James Cagney fan. We started a collection for him for Christmas. Cannot find these movies in stores. Read more
Published 19 months ago by theresa
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Fight Movie.
Danny Kenny(James Cagney)and his pal,Mutt(Frank McHugh)are truck drivers in New York.Dannys brother,Eddie(Arthur Kennedy)is a promising concert panio player. Read more
Published 23 months ago by Brian
5.0 out of 5 stars city for conquest
This is another gangster flick from the 1920's and has jimmy cagney and a few other dames in it. Lotsa shooting going on in this flick....take cover!!
Published on June 6, 2012 by fedora
5.0 out of 5 stars "Cagney & Sheridan in a memorable performance ... Anatole Litvak...
Warner Bros. Pictures presents "CITY FOR CONQUEST" (21 September 1940) (104 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Cagney is Danny Kenny, a truck driver who enters... Read more
Published on January 2, 2011 by J. Lovins
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