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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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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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Slow moving but fascinating early crime melodrama with excellent Ayres and Cagney performances
Leonard Maltin is way off base on this one. He gave it one and a half stars and calls it an antique early talkie with a "miscast" Lew Ayres. Yes, it's an early talkie but it's a good one - as good if not better than SMART MONEY and on its way to being PUBLIC ENEMY just a year later. The story (the usual crime does not pay moral with some twists) is a good one, strong on character and deserved its Oscar nomination. Lew Ayres gives what I consider to be his best screen performance, as a young and intelligent crime boss. Cagney, sixth billed, is his henchman and here impresses no end - he is completely at home in the talkie medium with a performance full of nuances and naturalism. No wonder he headed right to the top.
Louie Ricarno (Ayres) organizes the various hoods in his city into a conglomerate to protect each others' interests and eliminate gang wars, which profit no one. Once he has achieved this he retires to marry and raise his kid brother, currently in a military academy. One hitch here is that the woman he marries is also sweet on his henchman, Steve Mileaway (Cagney) and the feeling is returned. All goes well until the mob starts to break apart and tries to lure Louie back to the city by attempting to kidnap his young brother. The kidnap attempt goes awry and the boy is killed. Louie, now hardened more than ever, returns to the city, swearing vengeance. I won't reveal the rest of the plot, but it is well acted and well characterized. True, the direction is sluggish and the other actors are not up to the professionalism of Ayres and Cagney, but it must take its place with the other early crime melodramas (FIVE STAR FINAL, LITTLE CAESAR, PUBLIC ENEMY, G-MEN) as being top of the line.
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