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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:

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 Australia
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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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

tough and dirty

Author: (willrams@earthlink.net) from Santa Maria, CA
23 October 2002

I saw this today on TV and have seen it dozens of times before. James Cagney gives a startling performance as the conniving tough guy, and the Dead End Kids (remember them) are all there with their street smart personalities. However, the stars are all there for Warner Brothers, too. There are Humphrey Bogart, Pat O'Brien, Ann Sheridan, and Barton MacLane. As usual Cagney gets his comeuppance at the end with great emotion; and to think that Cagney started as a song and dance man; and winning the Academy Award for Yankee Doodle Dandy.

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3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Masterpiece

Author: Gino-10 from Virginia Beach, Virginia
6 September 1999

This movie is simply a masterpiece, a classic story of two kids who grow up on different sides of the law. Cagney, as Rocky, gave his best performance, only to outdo himself a decade later in the 1949 film noir classic "White Heat". The execution scene at the end is classic, the second best movie ending of all time. Of course the best ending was from, once again, "White Heat" where he blows himself up,along with an oil refinery. "I'm on top of the world,Ma!!!!"

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6 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Silly but fun 30s nonsense.

5/10
Author: fedor8 from Serbia
2 January 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As typical of crime dramas of the 30s and 40s as they get. A lot of mugging and animated acting from Cagney & co. Dated, but still enjoyable, partly for its unintentionally amusing over-the-top acting. The plot gets occasionally silly, but the ending surpasses everything previous with its absurdity; O'Brien actually visits his old pal Cagney minutes before Cagney's execution to ask him for a favour! (Though I am sure he would have visited him anyway, but that's beside the point.) Cagney has minutes to live before he gets electrocuted and what does his brother the priest do? He asks Cagney for a favour! As if Cagney hasn't got enough on his mind as it is, what with his life coming to an end, that he should also be doing favours for other people. Minutes later, as the two walk slowly towards the chair, O'Brien asks him whether he changed his mind about the favour (Cagney didn't want to oblige at first) and Cagney say no; that scene is pure (unintentional) comedy. But Cagney does oblige at the end, and acts scared at execution time, just as the priest wanted; could it be that Cagney wasn't so noble after all and didn't change his mind, but instead acted like any sane person would when faced with the electric chair? Hmm. It seems throughout the movie that Cagney the crook was a far more loyal friend to O'Brien the priest than the other way around: a strange message to make. Cagney delivers his lines with his usual machine-gun-fire style. Bogey I like here better than in films where he played classical bad guys; his acting as a lawyer is more subtle, with none of the silliness that some other of his roles entailed. O'Brien only has one facial expression throughout the film: an angelic, puppy-dog, ultimate honest-person look, and with nothing but goodness and the best intentions. He is a caricature. Sheridan is cute but doesn't appear much. "Whatdoyouhear, whatdoyousay..."

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