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Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 13,732 users  
Reviews: 124 user | 37 critic

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

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(screen play), (screen play), 3 more credits »
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Title: Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
George Bancroft ...
Mac Keefer
The 'Dead End' Kids
Billy Halop ...
Bobby Jordan ...
Swing
Leo Gorcey ...
Bim
Gabriel Dell ...
Pasty
Huntz Hall ...
Crab
Bernard Punsly ...
Hunky (as Bernard Punsley)
Joe Downing ...
Steve
Edward Pawley ...
Edwards
Adrian Morris ...
Blackie
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Storyline

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 <albl@inforamp.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 November 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Battle of City Hall  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The moment in which Rocky forces a trailing hood to take his place inside the phone booth in the pharmacy to get killed was inspired by the death of New York gangster Vincent "Mad Dog" Coll. In the real incident, Coll was locked in a gang war with Dutch Schultz. During the war Coll hid in an apartment above a pharmacy and would only come out to go into the pharmacy and call his girlfriend from the phone booth. Schultz found out about this and when Coll went to make his routine phone call, two of Schultz's gunmen walked in and shot Coll to death. See more »

Goofs

Seven minutes into the film there is a drive-by scene where two men in a convertible throw grenades at a shop window. You can clearly see both of them bounce off the window and back into the street. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Referenced in NCIS: Nature of the Beast (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

In My Merry Oldsmobile
(1905) (uncredited)
Music by Gus Edwards
Lyrics by Vincent Bryan
Revised version sung a cappella by James Cagney and Pat O'Brien
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Post Production Code Gangster Classic!
12 February 2005 | by (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

"Angels With Dirty Faces" was James Cagney's first film for Warner Bros. following his two year contract dispute. During that time he appeared in two films for the poverty row studio Grand National. With a few concessions to The Production Code (introduced in 1934) it is nonetheless one of the great all time gangster films. The touch of legendary director Michael Curtiz is evident throughout.

The story begins in the 1920s with two boyhood pals "Rocky" Sullivan (Frankie Burke) and Jerry Connelly (William Tracy) in the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood of New York. Rocky gets arrested by the police and is sent to the reformatory after a botched break in while Jerry escapes. While in prison, Rocky learns the evils of gangsterism from within and forges a life of crime and growing up to be James Cagney. Meanwhile Jerry has become a priest in the Pierson of Pat O'Brien.

Rocky returns to the old neighborhood and becomes involved with a group of teenagers (The Dead End Kids) who are headed in the same direction as Rocky. Fr. Jerry prevails upon Rocky to help him straighten the boys out before its too late. Rocky also meets up with a girl from his childhood, Laury Ferguson (Ann Sheridan).

Meanwhile we learn that Rocky has served three years in jail to protect his former partner and lawyer Jim Frazier (Humphrey Bogart). He has also entrusted Frazier with $100,000 from an earlier caper. Rocky goes to Frazier to demand his money and learns that Frazier is now involved with crime boss Mac Keefer (George Bancroft) and that they plan to cheat him out of his money. Hey, nobody double crosses Rocky.

Cagney is typical Cagney, bold, brash and cocky as Rocky. O'Brien as the Irish priest was a role he was born to play. Sheridan looks lovely but has little to do. Bogart, who was still 3 years away from major stardom, does well as the yellow back stabbing lawyer. The Dead End Kids - Billy Halop, Bobby Jordan, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell, Bernard Punsley) would move to a "B" series (without Hallop) after their Warner contract expired in 1939. The performances of Frankie Burke in particular and William Tracy as the young Rocky and Jerry are excellent.

"Angels With Dirty Faces" is probably best remembered for its ending. don't miss it.


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