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Bullets or Ballots (1936)

 -  Crime | Drama | Film-Noir  -  6 June 1936 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 1,545 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 10 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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Title: Bullets or Ballots (1936)

Bullets or Ballots (1936) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lee Morgan
Al Kruger
'Bugs' Fenner
Frank McHugh ...
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


WHO Rules The Rackets ? This picture puts the finger on the political higher-ups! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

6 June 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Bullets or Ballots  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film was made as part of Warner Bros.' response to the Production Code Administration and the Legion of Decency, which had condemned the studio's previous gangster movies with Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney as glorifying the criminal life. In response, Warners had both actors make crime movies with their characters on the right side of the law, with Cagney playing an FBI agent in "G-Men" and Robinson playing an undercover cop here. 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: You've got him wrong, Nick.
'Bugs' Fenner: Yeah, well, he's still a cop to me.
Al Kruger: Well, if it makes you happy, you keep right on thinking so.
See more »


Featured in Great Performances: Bacall on Bogart (1988) 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

mostly bullets
10 December 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Edward G. Robinson stars as a tough detective, based on a real character, in "Bullets or Ballots," a 1936 film also starring Joan Blondell, Humphrey Bogart, Barton MacLane, and Frank McHugh.

Robinson plays Johnny Blake, modeled after a real police officer, Johnny Broderick, who worked in New York City. As in the film, the character has a highly public firing so he can work with an organized crime group running illegal games.

Bogart plays an ambitious gang member who intends to get rid of anyone in his way of taking over the organization - he starts with a newspaperman and goes from there.

Warners made such great use of its character actors, using their versatility to great advantage. Cagney, Robinson, Bogart, all started out as villains but branched out into other kinds of roles.

Strong performances by Robinson and Bogart - a good gangster flick.

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Bullets or Ballots ... excellent movie Classic_TV_82
Joan Blondell at her steamiest! Lone_Prospector
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