G-Men (1935): William Keighley Oscar-Nominated Drama, Starring Jimmy Cagney as FBI Agent

G-Men, the smart, energetic Warner film, directed by William Keighley, cast star Jimmy Cagney not as a gangster, but as an FBI agent, in an effort to broaden his range and change his established screen image.

Cagney plays James “Brick” Davis, a tough guy who is put through law school by the generous mobster Mckay (William Harrigan).  When his best pal becomes an FBI agent and is ruthlessly and senselessly gunned down, he joins to agency to seek revenge.

Critics at the time pointed out that as gangster or lawman, Cagney, a personality actor, was tough, ruthless, reckless, and violent.

Reportedly J. Edgar Hoover liked the project and assigned several of his agents to appear in the picture in order to increase its authenticity and lend it greater credibility.

Made in the height of the Depression, “G Men” is fast-moving, rough-edged and involving in a pulpish way, like many of Warner’s flicks of the era, which seemed to be inspired by hot tabloid stories.

Oscar Alert

Oscar nominations: 1

Original Story: Gregory Rogers (written-in candidate)

Oscar Context

The winners of the Original Story Oscar were Ben Hecht and Charles McArthur for “The Scoundrel.”


Running Time: 85 Minutes