Friday, August 01, 2008

From the Mailroom: Patrick J. Ryan

We've fallen behind again with our Mailroom duties, so we'll at least catch up by one email. A reader named David writes in with the following question:

Hi Jeff,

My family and I were on The Great Movie Ride recently and noticed the name Patrick J. Ryan in the underworld area. Is this a homage to an Imagineer or some type of movie secret? We doubted that the name was just created out of thin air. Any ideas?

Thanks for writing David. The reference to the name Patrick J. Ryan in The Great Movie Ride is both obvious and elusive at the same time. Ryan is a character in the 1931 film The Public Enemy, which the guides mention specifically in their narration. What makes the character's name a bit elusive is that the name used primarily in the film and listed in the credits is Paddy Ryan. In the film, Ryan is a bootlegger and eventual mobster boss who brings James Cagney's character of Tom Powers into Ryan's criminal operation. Ryan was portrayed by actor Robert Emmett O'Connor.

Imagineers were not so much planting a movie secret with the Ryan reference as they were simply duplicating a set piece from The Public Enemy. In a scene from the movie, the Patrick J. Ryan Bar is fire-bombed by gangsters. Imagineers faithfully recreated that particular building facade which appears for just mere seconds in the film.

It is interesting to note that while it seems that the James Cagney audio-animatronic is based on the Tom Powers character from The Public Enemy, the scene depicted does not actually appear in that particular film.

The Gangster Alley set in The Great Movie Ride also makes reference to another James Cagney 1920s-era gangster movie. Matt Hochberg has documented at his Studios Central site two references to the 1939 film The Roaring Twenties. The Red and Blue Cab Company and Gold Shield Whiskey are both derived from that movie.