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The Doorway to Hell (1930)

Passed  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  18 October 1930 (USA)
6.5
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 519 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 8 critic

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 »

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(based on the story "A Handful of Clouds" by), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Charles Judels ...
Florist (scenes deleted)
Dorothy Mathews ...
Doris
Leon Janney ...
Jackie
Robert Elliott ...
O'Grady
...
Mileaway
Kenneth Thomson ...
Capt. of Academy
Jerry Mandy ...
Gangster
Noel Madison ...
Rocco
Edwin Argus ...
Midget
Eddie Kane ...
Dr. Morton
Tom Wilson ...
Gangster
...
Gangster
Edit

Storyline

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 <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 October 1930 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Caminho do Inferno  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A filmed opening sequence involving a play called "Napoleon of the Underworld," was cut prior to release. The sequence included actors cut from the final print: Charles Judels (who is credited in the cast anyway), Maurice Black, Vivien Oakland, Paul Fix, Tom Shirley and Peter Diggie. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Title Card: [closing title] 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.
See more »


Soundtracks

Taps
(1862) (uncredited)
Written by Daniel Butterfield
Played by a bugler at the funeral
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User Reviews

 
Better than you've been led to expect
15 June 2005 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Much has been said about Lew Ayres being miscast in this film, but I don't agree. The notion that a pretty young boy can't be a gangster is belied both by Ayres' performance and by history itself--Pretty Boy Floyd, anyone? (I should add, however, that Jimmy Cagney, in his autobiography, agreed with those who believed Ayres was too pretty to play a convincing gangster!)

This film is so much better than you'd think, and that is due not only to fine performances by Ayres and Cagney (make that, a WONDERFUL performance by Cagney, who really does ignite the screen), but also to impressive direction by Archie Mayo. I confess I usually think of Mayo as a pretty journeyman director, but maybe I've only seen his later work and "talkies" spoiled him. If you were to watch this film without sound, you'd be hyper-aware of the wonderful camera set-ups and editing, particularly during the prison break, when the screen is filled with jump cuts of men's legs running. Of course, without the sound, you'll miss the great period dialogue (a gangland ambush offers Ayres the opportunity to "walk into a handful of clouds").

TCM shows this film from time to time, and you really shouldn't miss it. It's well-written, well-directed, has great performances, and the closing lines (displayed as a printed page of the source story on the screen) are as poignant as anything you'll ever read.


15 of 17 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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