I hate race car driving. I cannot understand the lure of watching cars going round and round in a giant circle for god knows how many laps. I think I cannot stand NASCAR and all that racing stuff is because whenever it is on TV it usually interrupts a show I want to watch! Is race car driving considered a sport? To me that would be like saying cheerleading is a sport. Anyway, before I start saying what I really think about race car driving and cheerleading… The Crowd Roars is a film from 1932 about race car driving. Fortunately the cast was very good and the theme of race car driving did not annoy or bore me.
Joe Greer (James Cagney) is a professional race car driver. He goes back to his small hometown for the first time in four years. His girlfriend Lee (Ann Dvorak) is not getting off the train with him. She is mad at Joe because she thinks he feels she is not good enough to meet his family. Joe’s younger brother Eddie (Eric Linden) meets him at the train station. Eddie wants to race just like his older brother. Eddie has built his own car and is a local racing champion. He wants to go with his brother next time Joe leaves town. Joe tells Eddie to stay out of racing it is a hard life
Eddie convinces Joe to race with him at a local competition. It is neck and neck for a while but both brothers get run off the track and neither finishes the race. Later on Joe wires Lee to tell her he is extending his tour so he can teach Eddie how to race. Joe eventually goes back to Lee’s place. Instead of spending time with Lee he is always with his brother. He breaks things off with her because he wants to keep Eddie away from women and booze. Lee gets very upset she does want Joe to go. Her friend Ann (Joan Blondell) is not thrilled with Joe. Lee decides to teach Joe what it is like to lose someone he loves like. She has Ann go after Eddie. Lee’s plan to get back at Joe backfires. Ann finds she is falling in love with Eddie. Joe wants nothing to do with Eddie now that he is with Ann.
Eddie beats Joe in his first race. The newspapers are talking how he is the next up and coming racer. After Joe drives drunk in a race and kills a man he cannot find a job anywhere and fades into obscurity. Lee decides to head out East and start over. She gets a job as a waitress at a racetrack. Joe is at the same racetrack looking for a job. They see each other and talk. Lee tells Joe that Eddie is still a shamed of him for driving drunk.
Somehow Joe gets a job and gets to drive against Eddie. In the happy Hollywood ending Joe and Eddie make up.
The cast was excellent. I like seeing James Cagney with Joan Blondell. They always played tough characters and their tough characters together were fabulous. Ann Dvorak gave a great performance also. When I think of Pre-Code actresses Blondell and Dvorak are two of the greats that come to mind. Eric Linden is not one of my favorites. He just always seemed like a weird little boy.
The Crowd Roars is a typical 1930s guy film with romance thrown in so the women would also come and see it. I guess the romance angle works it acts as a motivator for the characters. The Crowd Roars is good to see once mostly just for the cast unless you are into racing and want to see some pretty cool old racing footage.