Reformed racketeer James Cagney pursues at last his lifelong ambition, to be a newspaper man, even if it’s for a 10th rate rag, the mere mention of which embarrasses his gangster friends. (“It’s on the way up,” he assures them, but all the murderers and blackmailers look down at their shoes.)

Baseball fan Lloyd Bacon filmed Picture Snatcher in 15 days, a few days under the typical shooting schedule for a Warner Brothers B film, by yelling things at his actors like “Run out your hit!” As Cagney recounts in his autobiography, he and Ralph Bellamy were quietly rehearsing a scene together when they heard Bacon cry out “Cut – print it!”

“Hey you,” Cagney responded. “I was rehearsing!”

“It looked fine from here!”

You can almost hear Cagney cluck his tongue years later, in Cagney by Cagney: “That was the ultimate efficiency – shooting a damned rehearsal!”

Grade: A

Picture Snatcher is currently available.