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Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

Approved  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  26 November 1938 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 15,103 users  
Reviews: 128 user | 39 critic

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



(screen play), (screen play), 3 more credits »
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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 ...
Bobby Jordan ...
Gabriel Dell ...
Huntz Hall ...
Bernard Punsly ...
Hunky (as Bernard Punsley)
Joe Downing ...
Edward Pawley ...
Adrian Morris ...


Rocky Sullivan and Jerry Connolly were tough kids who grew up together in the toughest part of New York --- Hell's Kitchen. Early on, Rocky gets sent to reform school, where he learns how to be a first class criminal. Jerry, who had escaped from the law, goes straight and becomes a priest. As adults, they reunite in the old neighborhood: Jerry works with the kids who, like he and Rocky, could end up on either side of the law. Rocky has returned looking for a safe place to stay till he can get back into his old racketeering organization -- something that his old partner isn't anxious to have happen. Lots of rapid fire wisecracks, roughhousing and gunfire ensues. Written by A.L.Beneteau <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sensational Human Drama... Terrific Thrills And Suspense! 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:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


A song, "Angels with Dirty Faces"--music by Maurice Spitalny and lyrics by Fred Fisher--was published to promote the picture. See more »


When Rocky tries to escape after he is walked out of the warehouse, by Father Connolly and is wounded, then captured, one of the cops reveals the two revolvers rocky had being empty. There is no reason Rocky would empty his revolvers of their spent cartridges. 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 Angels with Sticky Faces (1992) See more »


From Me to You
Written by Fabian Andre, Wayne King and Nat Conney
Played from when Bim sinks the 3-ball in the corner to the end 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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