Lou Ricarno is a smart guy. His plan is to organize the various gangs in Chicago so that the mugs will not liquidate each other. WIth the success of his leadership, Louie prospers, marries ... See full summary »
Lou Ricarno is a smart guy. His plan is to organize the various gangs in Chicago so that the mugs will not liquidate each other. WIth the success of his leadership, Louie prospers, marries Doris and retires to Florida to write his autobiography and play golf. In his absence the gang warfare flares, but he does not return as he wants to give a respectable image of life to his wife, younger brother and his Florida neighbors. While letters and telegrams from Mileaway will not influence his decision, events will. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
What appears to be a typo in the gangland slaughter headline of the newspaper Louie reads in the boarding house - it reads 'grewsome' instead of 'gruesome' - is in fact an acceptable variant that was more popular at the time the film was released. See more »
The "Doorway to Hell" is a one-way door. There is no retribution - no plea for further clemency. The little boy walked through it with his head up and a smile on his lips. They gave him a funeral - a swell funeral that stopped traffic - and then they forgot him before the roses had a chance to wilt.
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This was better than I had expected. Maybe not quite up there with Public Enemy and the original Scarface, but not that far behind.
The acting is pretty good for an early talkie. Cagney is great as usual as the head gangster's top henchman. Lew Ayres acts well as the head guy, "the Napoleon of crime", although he's perhaps a little too cleancut looking for the role.
The story is good, and rather dark. Mobster Louie Ricarno, after uniting all the gangs in Chicago under one organization, tries to quit crime. But things fall apart in his absence, and he's forced to return for purposes of revenge. The ending is nicely grim and while there might be enough of a "crime doesn't pay" moral to keep the censors happy it doesn't rub it in your face. There's some good gangster violence along the way.- a number of well-done hits, and an over- the-top scene that resembles a full-scale battle.
Two other things struck me as memorable: The adulterous relationship between Cagney and his boss' wife. At one point, she takes off her wedding ring, and then they "go somewhere".
The police captain, O'Grady, is a rather ruthless character. He blackmails Cagney into a false confession for a crime he didn't commit, by threatening to tell Ayres about his affair with Ayres's wife! Later, he lets Ayres's rivals bump him off, rather than prosecute him and risk an acquittal. It also is implied that O'Grady's rejection of bribes is more the exception than the rule among police officials.
It pays to watch this movie closely, as there is a lot that is implied and innuendoed.
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