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Picture Snatcher (1933)

James Cagney , Ralph Bellamy , Lloyd Bacon  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: James Cagney, Ralph Bellamy, Patricia Ellis, Alice White, Ralf Harolde
  • Directors: Lloyd Bacon
  • Writers: Allen Rivkin, Ben Markson, Daniel Ahern, P.J. Wolfson, William Keighley
  • Format: Black & White, Original recording remastered, NTSC
  • Language: English (Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 25, 2008
  • Run Time: 77 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00114XLS2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #80,052 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Picture Snatcher" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Picture Snatcher is exemplary early Cagney, 77 hard-charging minutes with the favorite son of the Lower East Side as a brash ex-con determined to go straight. How straight is a delicate question, since his job is scoring sensational photos for a raunchy tabloid. Picture Snatcher was made before the Production Code cast its puritanical shadow over Hollywood, and the script features two memorably morbid sequences--Cagney's debut as a literal picture snatcher, and the snapping of a clandestine prison-death-house photo--as well as abundant opportunities for risqué byplay, gallows humor, and freewheeling amorality. Lloyd Bacon (soon to direct Cagney in Footlight Parade) makes yeoman work of it all, even getting away with scenes in the newspaper's restroom, and staging a last-reel shootout ferocious enough to be worthy of a real gangster movie. With Ralph Bellamy as Cagney's newspaper boss (rare for him in those days to get a smart-guy role), Patricia Ellis as Cagney's girl (the daughter of the cop who sent him up), and sex-pixie Alice White stealing just about any scene she's in. --Richard T. Jameson

Product Description

Here’s Cagney as Danny Kean, a former gangster who has decided to go straight after a stretch in the big house. Danny has fallen for Patricia (Patricia Ellis), the daughter of the cop who put him away (Robert Emmett O'Connor). Dad isn't convinced that Danny has left his life of crime behind him, and he isn't too impressed with his new career taking pictures for a sleazy tabloid newspaper. Between getting a lurid photo of a fireman in front of a burning building (where his wife and her lover met their fate) and a daring shot of a woman being executed (based an actual incident when a New York Daily News photographer got a photo of Ruth Snyder in the electric chair), Danny's work is selling papers but hardly making Officer O'Connor think his daughter is in good hands (especially since he was in charge of press security for the execution).

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced early Cagney film December 24, 2007
1933's "Picture Snatcher" is one I've waited to come out on DVD for some time. It's about a gangster (James Cagney) who decides to go straight and become a photographer for a scandal sheet. The complication in the film is that Cagney's character is in love with the daughter of the cop that arrested him and sent him to prison. Dad isn't as convinced as his daughter that the ex-gangster has really changed. In the end, Cagney gets his exclusive photo of an execution - by breaking all of the rules of course - and he gets the girl. You would have figured as much, so I don't really think these are spoilers. The fun is watching how Cagney does these things. The film is fast paced and full of the energy that only Cagney could lend to such a role. Special features are:
Vintage theatrical trailer: I Loved A Woman
Classic WB short: Plane Crazy
WB cartoon: Wake Up The Gypsy In Me

This film is part of the larger volume 3 of the Warner Gangsters Boxed Set that is being released on the same day as this movie.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Cagney August 15, 2011
"Listen up. Jimmy Cagney here. I'm in this great flick where's I play a mug that's been in stir for 3 years and wants to go straight as a pitcher snappa. I go to work for my pal Ralph Bellamy, and we get drunk together and slap girls around. Dere's plenty of bullets and dere's even a dame who gets fried in the chair. Get off ya butt and see dis flick.

I'm tired of flappin my lips, so here's da real scoop from da perfesser."

While he is best known for his gangster roles, the majority of Jimmy Cagney's screen appearances were not as a gangster - he played an insurance salesman ("The Millionaire", 1931), en engineer ("Other Men's Women", 1931), a boxer ("Winner Take All", 1932), an auto racer ("The Crowd Roars", 1932), a Broadway producer ("Footlight Parade", 1933), etc. Indeed, Cagney often appeared in comedies (e.g., "Here Comes the Navy", "Hard to Handle", "Jimmy the Gent"), although it was his gangster films that earned the rally big bucks.

Here in 1933 off the success of his gangster films "Public Enemy" (`1931) and "Smart Money" (1931) Cagney plays an ex-con who goes straight as a cameraman for a local newspaper. His boss is his real life good friend Ralph Bellamy (1904-91) who plays a city editor with a drinking problem. Bellamy is best remembered for his role as the greedy stock manipulator from "Trading Places" (1983). He was nominated for an Emmy 3 times over a 30 year period, from 1953 ("United States Steel Hour") to 1983 ("The Winds of War") and was Oscar nominated for "The Awful Truth" (1937). He starred in the "Ellery Queen" mystery films (1940 -1) and gave us memorable performances in "The Professionals" (1966) and "Rosemary's Baby" (1968). I remember him best as Franklin Roosevelt in "Sunrise at Campobello" (1960).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Warner Bros. Pictures presents "PICTURE SNATCHER" (6 May 1933) (77 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- The film is a typical early '30s entertaining and fast-moving with some wild dialog and plenty of action and humor --- It's vintage Cagney: tough, cocky, funny and endearing --- The cast breaths so much personality into their character that they become individuals --- Though we know Cagney will prevail, we don't know just how he will succeed, and that is where the drama comes from --- Quick paced that you won't leave the room without hitting the stop button first.

Great acting, a good story, a happy ending, some jazzy theme music and those great cars of the 1930s -- What more could you want?

The great James Cagney is a joy to watch in the film --- He was a charismatic actor that left his mark of excellence on each and every film he appeared in.

Under the production staff of:
Lloyd Bacon [Director]
Daniel Ahern [Story]
Allen Rivkin [adaptation]
P.J. Wolfson [adaptation]
Ben Markson [dialogue]
Leo F. Forbstein [Conductor: Vitaphone Orchestra]
Ray Heindorf [Composer: title music]
Cliff Hess [Composer: stock music ]
Sol Polito [Cinematographer]
William Holmes [Film Editor]

1. Lloyd Bacon [aka: Lloyd Francis Bacon]
Date of Birth: 4 December 1889 - San Jose, California
Date of Death: 15 November 1955 - Burbank, California

2. James Cagney [aka: James Francis Cagney]
Date of Birth: 17 July 1899 - New York City, New York
Date of Death: 30 March 1986 - Stanfordville, New York

the cast includes:
James Cagney - Danny Kean
Ralph Bellamy - J.R.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
PICTURE SNATCHER is a pre-Code Cagney film about an ex-con who goes legit by working as a newspaper fotog. With bang-bang paced dialogue, bob-haired dames, hard-drinking mugs and elegant early '30s styles and autos, this one's a treat for Jimmy's fans and anyone interested in early Depression Era Vitaphone movies.

Cagney's first assignment is to photograph a fireman who came unglued when he answered a call and discovered his own home had burned with an unfaithful wife and her lover as part of the kindling. Jimmy enters the ruined building through a litter-strewn alley and pretends to be an insurance adjuster. While he makes a show of toting up losses, the distraught firefighter holds fast to a shotgun, watches warily and declares he'll shoot any man who tries to take his picture. Jimmy manages to sneak out a wedding portrait of the once happy couple; thus his new employer runs an exclusive photo on the front page.

In a later incident literally based on Ruth Snyder's 1928 Sing Sing electrocution, Cagney uses a miniature camera strapped to his ankle to photograph the event. (The actual image of Snyder at the moment electricity was applied is one of the most famous in journalistic history.)

Extras include commentary, a newsreel segment on 'Machine Gun' Kelly's capture, three movie trailers, a 1933 b&w Merrie Melodies cartoon and a two-reel musical from the same year.

Parenthetical numbers preceding titles are 1 to 10 imdb viewer poll ratings.

(7.1) Picture Snatcher (1933) - Jimmy Cagney/Ralph Bellamy/Patricia Ellis/Alice White/Ralf Harolde (uncredited: Sterling Holloway/Milton Kibbee/Billy West/Hobart Cavanaugh/Gino Corrado/Charles Lane)

(5.4) Plane Crazy (1933) - Dorothy Lee/Arthur Havel/Morton Havel/Brook Allen/Catherine Field.

(6.3) Wake Up the Gypsy in Me (animated-1933) - Billy Bletcher
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Cagney delightful as ex hoodlum turned newspaper photographer
This is one of my favorite pre-code Cagney movies. He even picks up a dame in the Ladies' Room. The scene where he pours a drink down the front of a woman's dress always makes me... Read more
Published 25 days ago by Vivian
5.0 out of 5 stars Love love love
Cagney is funny and sexy ! I love his style and he is the definition of coolness and swag! And the way he flirts with the ladies in the film omg. Read more
Published 7 months ago by yadira guevara
5.0 out of 5 stars A+
Great item, I enjoyed it and am well pleased with my purcase. It was well worth the price, thank you.
Published 19 months ago by Homeboy Jose
5.0 out of 5 stars Picture Snatcher starring James Cagney
If you love James Cagney, get this DVD. It's definitely a Cagney film and he is amazing in it. Always have loved his acting. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Louise Madeline
5.0 out of 5 stars Cagney!
What can I say, it's Cagney in the 30's. Fun movie for that time period. This dealer on Amazon had a very fair price for the dvd. Go onto other sites and even TCM. Read more
Published on November 29, 2011 by Marianne Laird-Bird
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced comedy/drama
This fast paced precode comedy/drama stars James Cagney as an ex-con who "goes straight" with a job as a photographer for a two bit tabloid. Read more
Published on December 23, 2010 by Indian Prairie Public Library
5.0 out of 5 stars Cagney Joins The Paparazzi
This was great! It's vintage James Cagney: tough, cocky, funny and endearing! The film is also typical early '30s: short, entertaining, fast-moving with some wild dialog and plenty... Read more
Published on April 8, 2009 by Craig Connell
4.0 out of 5 stars Cuts to the Chase
For years, Cagney's pre-1935 WB films, with few exceptions, went largely unseen. Ever since Turner Classic Movies made them available, I've seen all the early Cagneys and consider... Read more
Published on January 21, 2009 by Buster49
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Cagney's Best
Picture Snatcher has become one of this reviewer's favorites, biting into the lead once held by Each Dawn I Die. Read more
Published on May 13, 2008 by luvtheCag
4.0 out of 5 stars Production line filmmaking at its best!
Picture Snatcher isn't one of his greats by any means, but this fast-paced Warner Bros. newspaper movie is a perfect example of why Jimmy Cagney was such a big star in the 30s. Read more
Published on May 12, 2008 by Trevor Willsmer
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