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Angels with Dirty Faces
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Reviews & Ratings for
Angels with Dirty Faces More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Archetypes without cliches

10/10
Author: pderocco from Pacific Palisades, CA
4 March 2002

It's awfully hard to tell a story of archetypal characters without descending into stock cliches, but this movie does it deftly. In fact, it isn't just the characters that embody symbols deeply embedded in our psyches, but the surroundings too: the tenement, the church, the pool hall, the speakeasy, the jail, the electric chair. In this case, the starkness of the symbols actually heightens the power of the story. This is definitely in my all-time top ten.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Magnificent!

Author: Elizabeth (endofroad2@aol.com) from NY
18 April 2000

I love this movie! James Cagney and Pat O'Brien are great as childhood ruffians Rocky Sullivan and Jerry Connolly, who grow up very differently because Rocky lands in jail. When he gets out, he discovers that Jerry is now a priest, which could spoil the friendship between the guys. This could mean trouble, since the two friends have Irish tempers!

I also like Humphrey Bogart in the role of Frazier, the slimy lawyer of Rocky. Since Bogie usually played a tough guy with a heart of gold, this was a nice change! Also, brilliant directing by Michael Curtiz, who worked with Bogart in "Casablanca" and "We're No Angels".

"Angels with Dirty Faces" is a fantastic movie for anyone, whether you're a fan of "tough guy" movies or not. So I give it a 10 out of 10, because it's a must see!

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Brilliant

10/10
Author: Matt Carpenter (aeroquiddity@yahoo.com) from Hamlet, North Carolina
13 December 1999

A brilliant, superb film about two friends: one grew up to be a priest; the other, a crook. James Cagney is in top criminal form in the powerful and gripping drama. Pat O'Brien gives a good performance as his childhood friend, a priest who wishes to save Cagney's soul. Humphrey Bogart is good as Cagney's partner in crime. I would definitely recommend this classic film.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Cagney shines

8/10
Author: Keith Burnage from Ottawa, Canada
4 November 1999

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

WARNING THE ENDING IS GIVEN AWAY BELOW

A real typical film espousing the dangers of a life of crime, but at the same time showing that redemption is possible. James Cagney (Rocky Sullivan) is the real standout in this film, his co-star Pat O'Brien (The Rev. Jerry Connolly) is over shadowed by Cagneys acting. The film also has a good supporting cast, The Dead End Kids who worship Cagney, Humphrey Bogart (James Frazier) playing another of his early criminal sleazy roles who gets his come-uppance in the end, with Ann Sheridan (Laury Ferguson) playing Cagney's love interest. The most memorable moment comes at the end as Cagney, after rejecting O'Briens request to go to his death as a coward to make him seem a lesser man to the kids who admirered him, is lead off to his death. We watch as he goes from the tough as nails criminal laughing at death, to a weeping coward as they strap him in and let him fry.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Solid

7/10
Author: George Tetsel (citizenkane@lycosmail.com) from New York
4 October 1999

This is a solid gangster flick out of the gritty 1930's. James Cagney of course is brilliant, and a poignant ending makes up for a bit of heavy-handedness in the part of 'Father Jeremy'. It's funny to see Bogart not in control. All-in-all a classic.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A great film showing how delicate fate can be.

9/10
Author: ThMadman from Boston, MA
3 July 1999

A great film which has earned its place as a timeless classic, as it deals with one of the most timeless of subjects; the evolution of human character.

Where it is all too easy to work with the black and white concept of good vs. evil, this movie intensely covers all the shades of gray in between. It also very successfully portrays how seemingly insignificant events can bring about radical changes in a person's life. The lead characters, Gangster Rocky Sullivan and The Rev. Jerry Connolly, were performed brilliantly. Not your typical sinner and saint, these were "every-man" type characters with subtle and complex personalities. Overall, this movie is as entertaining as it is thought-provoking.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Yet Another Classic Cagney Flick

8/10
Author: noahax from Los Angeles
21 April 1999

This film definitely deserves its status as a classic. There are a few slow parts, such as a basketball scene that overstays its welcome by several minutes, but Cagney's great performance more than makes up for any flaws. The final moments are quite riveting.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

amazing movie

7/10
Author: wolf-53 from Sackville, New Brunswick
5 April 1999

This is a great movie about crime, and how gangsters can become role models. The final scene is a classic. Great performances by James Cagney and Pat O'Brien.

10/10

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Why, you dirty rat!

6/10
Author: Robert J. Maxwell (rmax304823@yahoo.com) from Deming, New Mexico, USA
9 January 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This isn't the best of the Warner Brothers' 1930s gangster movies but it's the clearest statement of the formula. It's got everything. It's like a Romanesque mosaic. Here's Jimmy Cagney as Rocky Sullivan, the ex-choir boy gangster who hitches up his pants and greets people with, "Whaddaya hear, whaddaya say?" His childhood pal is Pat O'Brian, now a priest living in the same neighborhood and trying to save the new generation of kids from turning into hoodlums. We have the Dead End Kids (or whatever they're called here) who think Cagney is a swell guy. Humphrey Bogart is Cagney's lawyer who swindles him out of his stash, then tries to have him killed when Cagney is released from jail. The familiar girl with the pig tails grows up to be Anne Sheridan, who has big, pretty eyes but no New York accent. (Neither does Pat O'Brian, from Wisconsin, but I've given him absolution.) After the final shoot out, with Cagney's foes dead and himself trapped in a tenement with tear gas coming through the windows, O'Brian shows up and takes the speaker. "Rocky, you've got to come out!" "Go on back to da choitch where ya belong, Fodder!" (I just made that line up, but there are a couple of similar ones in the scene.) Rocky is convicted and sentenced to death. But he's a tough guy and won't break down. The Dead End Kids mope over the headlines and promise themselves that Rocky will never turn yellow at the end. O'Brian gets word of this and tells Rocky that he holds the fate of these innocent kids in his hands. If he doesn't turn yellow as he's marched to the chair, the kids will turn into miscreants. If he shows he's frightened, his myth will die with him and the kids will all become champion polo players overnight.

Does Rocky develop a social conscience in his last moments and fake hysteria as he walks the last mile? Guess.

The thing is, this isn't anybody's best performance and it is no one's idea of the tightest script, yet you can gain a rather full grasp of what these genre movies were all about by watching this single movie, and not having to sit through half a dozen others. If that's what you want. This is like reading an abstract in a professional journal, except that it's fun to see it all laid out.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A step below The Roaring Twenties but Cagney is superb

Author: JOHN_REID from Gold Coast
28 August 2003

I was a little disappointed with Angels with Dirty Faces having expected something to equal The Roaring Twenties. Unfortunately this is not in the same league as the Raoul Walsh classic. Despite its flaws, Cagney is magnificent as always, the quintessential tough but lovable gangster with an underlying heart of gold. Whilst Cagney's performance as Rocky Sullivan is faultless, The Dead End Kids appeared to me as overstated, hammy caricatures and their performances bordered on annoying with a manufactured script that convinced me that the writer may have heard of, but never experienced, the tough side of Hells Kitchen. Nevertheless, there are some great moments and the climax is indeed memorable as Cagney is led the "the chair". The Father makes a final request to Rocky to fake cowardice so that the kids might reconsider their hero worship of him. There is some ambiguity about whether Rocky really was "yellow" in his final moments but to me there was no doubt that he was acting for the sake of the kids. The scene certainly has great impact first with the chilling image of Cagney's face, and then in shadows the sounds of his feigned terror in his last moments. I would question the plausibility of the Father asking for such an act of cowardice as Rocky is led to his death and I also wonder whether such a grand gesture at the point of death would have had its desired result. Ultimately, without the brilliance of Cagney, Angels with Dirty Faces may well have been dismissed as another typical and unremarkable gangster film.

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