Awful Auteurs: Ed Wood Meets James Cagney


Ed Wood was obviously never known for producing top quality films. His only connection with a legendary actor- Bela Lugosi- was mostly an accident caused by Mr. Lugosi's late in life drug and career problems. Otherwise, quality actors weren't lining up to work for Mr. Wood.

Things quite possibly might have gone differently for Ed, however, had a run-in with a legend paid off for him. While filming his second film- the misleading Jailbait (the titular "jailbait" is a gun) a legendary actor happened upon the set.

According to actor Lyle Talbot, James Cagney was apparently driving around when he noticed Ed and the cast doing a location shoot. Mr. Cagney inquired about the production, which Ed Wood no doubt described in exaggerated terms. Cagney was impressed and offered to do an impromptu cameo for Ed, which would no doubt raise the stature of this misleadingly titled mess.

As Ed Wood sat back to figure out a quick way to work the legendary Mr. Cagney into his film, a police officer with the LAPD showed up. Did Mr. Wood have a film permit? To the surprise of nobody who has studied the filmmaking of Ed Wood, he did not. By this time, James Cagney had lost all interest in this shadow production and withdrew his offer of a cameo. The world was left to wonder about what might have been.