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Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 26 November 1938 (USA)
3:19 | Trailer

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A priest tries to stop a gangster from corrupting a group of street kids.



(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
The 'Dead End' Kids
Billy Halop ...
Gabriel Dell ...
Bernard Punsly ...
Hunky (as Bernard Punsley)
Joe Downing ...
Edward Pawley ...
Adrian Morris ...


Two boyhood friends, Rocky Sullivan and Jerry Connolly have taken different paths in life. After Rocky is arrested he is sent to a juvenile facility and becomes a lifelong tough guy and criminal. Jerry on the other hand goes straight and becomes a Catholic priest ministering to people in the same neighborhood when he and Rocky grew up. When Rocky is released from prison he resumes his criminal lifestyle and becomes much admired by many of the local kids. Worried that the kids will follow Rocky into the criminal world, Jerry works hard to keep them on the straight and narrow. When Rocky is convicted and sentenced to the electric chair, Jerry asks him for one last favor. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The saga of America's dirty faced kids... And the breaks that life won't give them! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

26 November 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Battle of City Hall  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


For years, viewers have wonder whether or not "Rocky" Sullivan (James Cagney) really turned yellow as he was being strapped into the electric chair. Some have wondered if he was faking it in order to keep his promise to Father Jerry. When asked about the scene years later, Cagney says he chose to play it in such a way so that the audience could make their own decisions as to whether or not he was faking. See more »


During the course of the final shootout, the pattern of broken glass changes. See more »


[first lines]
Jerry, As a Boy: Bulls eye!
William 'Rocky' Sullivan, as a boy: It's as dead as a door nail around here.
Jerry, As a Boy: Yeah.
See more »


Referenced in Cracker: True Romance: Part 1 (1995) See more »


Shuffle Off to Buffalo
(1932) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played at the beginning of the pool room scene
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A classic early crime drama
22 October 2002 | by (Las Vegas, Nevada) – See all my reviews

Throughout the 1930's, Warner Brothers delivered many quality crime and gangster dramas that usually featured the likes of the studio's distinguished contract star roster. This 1938 release is one of the prime examples. James Cagney and Pat O'Brien (who were frequently cast in films together and this is their best one together) portray boyhood buddies who reunite years later after Cagney is released from prison where he had served for many years for a petty crime that he committed while he was still a kid. Cagney has not learned his lesson that crime doesn't pay and so he returns to his old neighborhood to set up his criminal hideout. Meanwhile, his old friend, O'Brien has given up being a street hood and has since become a respected priest who naturally doesn't think highly of the life that his friend has chosen for himself. To make matters worse, six young boys (portrayed by the Dead End Kids) whom O'Brien is trying to lead down the right paths begin to idolize Cagney. Humphrey Bogart also appears in a pre big box office star part as a lawyer and screen veteran George Bancroft also costars as a dishonest crime boss. Michael Curtiz' direction and Max Steiner's musical score are also highlights. This film is one of the all time great ones of the 1930's and an excellent showcase for its legendary cast and crew.

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