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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


A Big Time Cast in a Big City Drama Destined to be the Biggest Hit in Years! 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?


The story was written by Rowland Brown as a project for James Cagney at Grand National Pictures, the independent studio Cagney had signed with in 1936 after winning a breach-of-contract suit against Warner Bros. The original plan had been for Brown to write the full script and direct the film, but when Warners won back Cagney's contract on appeal they bought Brown's story for Cagney but assigned John Wexley and Warren Duff to do the screenplay and Michael Curtiz to direct. 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 Angels Wash Their Faces (1939) See more »


The Sidewalks of New York
(1894) (uncredited)
Music by Charles Lawlor
Played by the organ grinder during the opening panorama
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Angels or Evils?
1 May 2005 | by (Spain) – See all my reviews

This is one of my favorite classics, with extraordinary acting of James Cagney, one of the best actors starring crime films, and his friend, Pat O'Brien, who once again played the role of a priest. In fact, O'Brien in his real life studied to become a priest, but later he quit for becoming an actor. The seed of criminality is here well shown, but not its causes. Why are these children finally criminals? It was not the intention of the director Michael Curtiz to go deeply into the problem, instead he treated it religiously. Men are products of the society where they live, obviously, some escape from bad examples while others continue to be spoiled for the whole life. Rocky Sullivan (Cagney) was the case, a spoiled child with some principles of friendship only, and hard with his enemies. His best friend (o'Brien) hopefully became a priest and took the life differently, trying to help and improve the behavior of the children in the community where he lives. Why one went in one way different to the other? this is not suggested in the film. We have only the facts and then you must figure out the reasons of such behaviors. Interesting film, anyway, with good acting of Humphrey Bogart too, who was a perfect actor for playing the roles of the villains, and always nice Ann Sheridan did it well too.

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