It's the early days of the F.B.I. - federal agents working for the Department of Justice. Though they've got limited powers - they don't carry weapons and have to get local police approval ... See full summary »
Tom Powers and Matt Doyle are best friends and fellow gangsters, their lives frowned upon by Tom's straight laced brother, Mike, and Matt's straight laced sister, Molly. From their teen-aged years into young adulthood, Tom and Matt have an increasingly lucrative life, bootlegging during the Prohibition era. But Tom in particular becomes more and more brazen in what he is willing to do, and becomes more obstinate and violent against those who either disagree with him or cross him. When one of their colleagues dies in a freak accident, a rival bootlegging faction senses weakness among Tom and Matt's gang, which is led by Paddy Ryan. A gang war ensues, resulting in Paddy suggesting that Tom and Matt lay low. But because of Tom's basic nature, he decides instead to take matters into his own hands. Written by
The "Foreword" mentions that the movie is to depict "a certain strata of American life." "Strata" is the plural form or "stratum." The phrase should have been written "a certain stratum of American life." See more »
Cagney Makes This One Of The Best Classic Era Crime Movies Ever
Once again, Jimmy Cagney struts his stuff.....and makes a big name for himself in the very early part of his acting career. He clearly demonstrates that he is a man who take over any scene and dominate it, and the film.
Hollywood found this out in making this film. It is said that Cagney's role was originally much smaller in here but he was so good the script was changed to give him the starring spot....and his career took off from there.
Speaking of billing and stardom, Jean Harlow gets second billing in this film but really has only a bit part; Blondell gets fourth billing has only a few lines.
The story is a fast-mover and the movie is over in less than an hour-and-a-half. The cinematography in here is excellent and DVD really brings that out.
The famous "grapefruit scene" with Cagney shoving the fruit in Mae Clark's face wasn't that big a deal back then and the scene happens so fast you almost miss it.
For me, a highlight of the show was simply the facial expressions on Cagney. At the end of the movie, as he stands in the pouring rain getting ready to go in and kill people, his expression is downright scary - a very powerful scene.
The ending of this movie is memorable, too. In all the film may be dated but it still very, very watchable and one of the great crime movies of all time.
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