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Bullets or Ballots (1936)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  6 June 1936 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 1,834 users  
Reviews: 28 user | 12 critic

After Police Captain Dan McLaren becomes police commissioner former detective Johnny Blake knocks him down convincing rackets boss Al Kruger that Blake is sincere in his effort to join the ... See full summary »



(screen play), (story), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
'Bugs' Fenner
Joe King ...
Capt. Dan McLaren (as Joseph King)
Dick Purcell ...
Ed Driscoll (as Richard Purcell)
Wires Kagel
Joseph Crehan ...
Grand Jury Spokesman
Henry O'Neill ...
Ward Bryant
Henry Kolker ...
Mr. Hollister
Gilbert Emery ...
Mr. Thorndyke
Herbert Rawlinson ...
Mr. Caldwell
Louise Beavers ...
Nellie LaFleur
Norman Willis ...
Louie Vinci


After Police Captain Dan McLaren becomes police commissioner former detective Johnny Blake knocks him down convincing rackets boss Al Kruger that Blake is sincere in his effort to join the mob. "Buggs" Fenner thinks Blake is a police agent. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Speeding to the screen on a wave of headlines! The torrid timed-to-the minute revelations of the new dictatorship of Gangdom. (Trade paper ad). See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

6 June 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Balas o votos  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Most of the cars that characters are shown driving or riding in are 1936 Dodges. See more »


Early in the film while Johnny Blake (Robinson) is sitting at a table with Joan Blondell talking, one of the old "Mugs" he'd sent to sing sing prison walks over to him and smarts off. Without standing, he trips the mug with his leg and punches him to the floor. While leaning over and chastising the unconscious mug you can see that Blake's (Robinson) hair has moved forward on the right side and is messed up. In the next shot when he leans back up to the table to talk to Joan Blondell his hair is perfectly neat and combed. See more »


Al Kruger: The boys think you're working for him. I'm wondering.
'Bugs' Fenner: I'm not.
See more »


Featured in Breakdowns of 1936 (1936) See more »


The Lady in Red
(1935) (uncredited)
Music by Allie Wrubel
Whistled by Edward G. Robinson
See more »

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User Reviews

Edward G. Robinson: A Tough Guy With A Heart
23 December 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This turned out to be a decent '30s gangster movie, not a lot different from a few others I've seen where Humphrey Bogart plays the bad guy and is the main adversary of the hero. Several films had James Cagney up against him; here it was Edward G Robinson.

Robinson plays policeman "Det. Johnny Blake," who goes underground, so to speak, by posing as a gang member to get the goods on them. (It's based on a real-life character.) Robinson, as usual, is very interesting to watch and is a tough guy BUT with a soft heart. In fact, he even feels bad about betraying the head crook because he has such principles of being a "straight shooter" that he doesn't feel right lying to anybody, even the gang leader "Al Krueger" (Barton MacLane).

Bogart plays "Nick Fenner," Al's number-one guy and is more of the villain than his boss. Joan Blondell gets second billing but that's not right because she's at least fourth in the amount of screen time and lines. There really is no real love interest in this movie; it's strictly a crime story.

When I first saw this movie, a little over a decade ago on VHS, I wasn't that impressed but last week, watching this on DVD, not only was the story better than I remembered but the picture was excellent. The blacks, whites and grays in here are beautiful. This was part of the "Tough Guys" DVD package and they did a wonderful job on the transfer.

17 of 20 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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