James Francis Cagney, Jr. in an anything but ""filmic"" bio -- from his formative years in tough Yorkville. . .through the days when he both acted and boxed to help support his family. . .and up through his 15-year long retirement during which a desired quiet country lifestyle was enjoyably realized on his Martha's Vineyard farm. Author Freedland (Jolson; Irving Berlin) sketches the usual Cagney portrait (cf. Ron Offen's 1972 not much different Cagney) that of a private individual who had to battle exploitation by studio chief Jack Warner as well as Red smears for his humanitarian activities. The fact that he was typecast as a gangster probably didn't help. The chronological paragraphing of Cagoey's screen credits is probably inclusive enough for most of the Irishman's fans as it traces his vaudeville origins which blossomed into a Broadway success in Penny Arcade and subsequent Hollywood stardom via The Public Enemy. A buffer's manual on a sateen legend who -- like us -- would rather chew the fat with cronies such as Pat O'Brien and Joan Blondell.