The Fighting 69th | Chicago Reader

The Fighting 69th

Warner Brothers pays tribute to the famous New York infantry regiment, whose World War I veterans included poet Joyce Kilmer, chaplain Francis P. Duffy, and U.S. intelligence pioneer "Wild Bill" Donovan. All three appear as characters here, but the fictional story line centers on James Cagney as a trash-talking punk who turns yellow in the trenches and must redeem himself in battle. William Keighley directed this 1940 drama, and the Warners contingent of Irish-American character actors turns out in full force (Pat O'Brien, Alan Hale, Frank McHugh, Dennis Morgan).

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