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Angels with Dirty Faces
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Angels with Dirty Faces More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

"Always remember: Don't be a sucker" - Rocky Sullivan

Author: Galina from Virginia, USA
18 September 2006

This crime/drama concerns two childhood friends that both grew up in Hell's Kitchen back in 1920th. Jerry Connelly (O'Brien) became a parish priest and the other, Rocky Sullivan (Cagney) – the career criminal. The Angels of the title are the neighborhood boys whom Father Jerry tries to save from lives of crime and who have come to idolize the tough, fast, furious and cool guy Rocky. Yes, Cagney's Rocky was a criminal but one could not help rooting for him in every scene of the movie which he stole from the rest of the cast. Cagney is riveting as Rocky. When he talks, you want to listen, when he walks, you want to follow. Who would blame the Dead End Kids for wanting to be like him? Father Jerry does not blame them but he tries his best not to let that happened...

"Angels with Dirty Faces" is a great movie, a true classic that combines an excellent crime movie with the characters like crooked lawyer (Humphrey Bogard) and corrupt politician (George Bancroft) with whom Rocky formed a doomed business alliance and a very human and compelling drama of two best friends, the choices they made, the roads they took and where the roads brought them. Great directing, writing, acting from everyone and absolutely brilliant performance from James Cagney.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

It's Cagney always was......

Author: gazzo-2 from United States
15 April 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is very well made, especially that ending. They didn't monkey around here, they let you know exactly what happens w/ the electric chair, pretty strong stuff for a 1938 flick. I am of the opinion that he faked the terror for his old pal O'Brien's sake, but of course others think otherwise. No matter--it's a chilling scene.

The kids-Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, etc-essentially are the Stooges just younger, but as believable a street gang as you will find for such an old flick. (I also enjoyed seeing the contrast of old style Hoop vs the way it's played today--they ever hear of dribbling??) Weaknesses-well not many. O'Brien is a block of wood, rarely impresses me unfortunately. I wasn't so sure that Ann Sheridan would fall for Cagney given their history, and it's true she isn't given that much to do after awhile.

Bogie was fun as a sniveling 'shyster' while George Bancroft made for a Claude Akins like baddie, I always think of him as the sheriff in 'Stagecoach'.

Michael Curtiz made many great films-Casablanca and Robin Hood amongst'em-this one ranks up there too.

*** outta ****. Cagney is great!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Classic Cagney, Classic Cinema.

Author: RF456 from Canada
31 January 2005

I'd always heard about how great an actor James Cagney was, but had never seen any of his films. So I decided to rent this one from the local video store. After watching it I was astounded at how great an actor he is. This has to be his defining movie. Cagney plays a very believable gangster named Rocky Sullivan and I think his performance alone could have made this movie good. He had a screen presence that very few actors, other than say John Wayne or Clint Eastwood have had. His performance combined with an excellent script, superb direction and great supporting performances, make for a movie that defines excellence in film-making from the golden age of cinema. If you want to see a James Cagney movie or just want to watch an old black and white classic, then this is the one to get!

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

tough and dirty

Author: ( 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 5 people found the following review useful:


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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Sets the bar for mobster movies

Author: pcrprimer from Canada
10 April 2014

I didn't know much about this movie when I watched this. I had heard of the Humphrey Bogart, but not James Cagney. Although the movie was made in the 30s, the plot is something that could be of a movie that was just released in the 80s, 90s, or now. This is truly Cagney's movie, and he steals every scene that he's in. As a viewer, you can't help but cheer for him. I feel that his main love interest isn't really fleshed out. We learn that she comes from a troubled past, but not much more. A few scenes that stand out are the pharmacy assassination attempt, and obviously the well-known scene where the priest asks something of Rocky that he doesn't want to give.

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Easily one of the all time greats, Cagney is a god! Whaddya hear, whaddya say?

Author: Christopher Wilson from Liverpool, United Kingdom
19 February 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I remember the first time I seen this film, I was 13 and my Religious Education teacher in school made up watch it, well we ended up watching the first 40 minutes then he never mentioned it again. I still to this day do not have a single clue as to why he made us watch it, he was an odd fellow to say the least. After he never put it back on for us I decided to rent it to finally watch the whole thing this was when I was about 16/17, and it is safe to say this is one of the movies that made me fall in love with movies to this day! Gangster films flew to the top of the watch lists during the great depression era in America, there was so many released during the 1930's it was obvious that they would be the more favoured films. James Cagney and Edward G. Robinson paved the for gangsters on the big screen. Cagney was a perfect choice to play Rocky Sullivan, he had the swagger of a gangster, the fast talking of a con man, had unbelievable comic timing along with these great traits he was also an intense actor with real raw talent.

In my honest opinion this is one of the greatest Gangster flicks of all time, and I genuinely think people will be saying that in another three quarters of a century! Rocky Sullivan and Jerry Connelly played by Frankie Burke and William Tracy respectively are a pair of New Yorker youths who grew up on the very poor Lower East Side end up caught up in the robbery on a railroad car (a railway carriage to us Brits ha). Jerry escapes without any difficulty I mean boom this kid is gone, Rocky on the other hand is not as lucky. Staying true to his tough upbringing Rocky upholds his "code of silence", refusing to snitch on the identity of his accomplice which leaves Rocky stuck in a reformatory before he will be bumped into a full prison.

After realising how bad Rockys fate actually is, Jerry turns his life around and becomes a man of the cloth. After many years pass, Rocky returns to his old neighbourhood now being played by Cagney he looks up his old friend Jerry to find out he is no Father Jerry (Pat O'Brien) whom has taken in on himself to look after a rag tag bunch of boys played by Billy Halop, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell who would all go to become The Dead End Kids. The boys are overjoyed that they get to meet a big-time gangster like Rocky, they pretty much worship the ground he walks on, much to the disappointment of Father Jerry who is trying to guard the boys from a life of crime.

Cagney pays a call to his Lawyer, played by Humphrey Bogart who has been keeping $100,000 (which according to DollarTimes is roughly $1.6 million today) stashed away for him. He meets racketeering boss Mac Keefer (George Bancroft), both of whom promise to cut Rocky in on a highly lucrative operations, however this is where we hit a twist they are plotting to have him whacked (MY WHOLE LIFE have I wanted to use that phrase and it too actually work, and now I think it fits! ha) Father Jerry runs a campaign over the radio and newspaper against Rocky and his partners, with Rockys blessing that is. Laury by now played by the beautiful Ann Sheridan has fallen in love with Rocky.

When Rocky learns of the plot to kill Father Jerry due to his smear campaign, Rocky kills both men which results in him being caught in a shoot-out with the police in a warehouse. His trial is quick and he is sentenced to death, before Rocky is about to be executed Father Jerry turns up asking for possibly the BIGGEST favour in movie history. He wants Rocky to die like a coward so the boys will go on the straight and narrow, Rocky refuses, however as he is being put to death Rocky suddenly breaks down an loses it crying and pleading for his life! The paper the next runs the story "ROCKY DIES YELLOW!" to help the boys cement the belief that he well and truly is coward.

So overall this movie is action filled, full of laughs, full of great performances all across the board giving us viewers an unbelievable movie experience! A little fact I learnt while writing this review is that during the warehouse scene, LIVE AMMO was used, how on earth did they get away with that ha. All these parts come together cultivating in what is one of the greatest movies of all time! This will be one of the easiest ratings that I will give to a film, if I could go any higher than 10 I would! "Whaddya hear, whaddya say?"

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The World's Hope

Author: a_mathews24 from Canada
16 February 2014

In my mind, there is no title more apt for this film than "Angels with Dirty Faces." Every person has a little bit of good in them; they just might not display it until the time arises. We also do a lot of fun and daring things growing up. We learn from them and move forward, and this movie beautifully depicts how people with similar childhoods can diverge to live such different lives.

This movie truly demonstrates how important both our experiences and upbringing are in moulding our futures. Ruffians initially, people can become saintly priests or remain criminals. Despite their different paths, though, it is important to note people do not simply forget their pasts. The relationships we make throughout our lives do not simply diminish as time progresses; instead, we learn to value and cherish what we once had.

The world needs good people. To help with the injustices happening today and to nurture the next generations. Throughout Angels with Dirty Faces, we see a priest working tirelessly and honestly to support local youths, trying to ensure they learn proper morals and respect the world they live in. This movie shows a man fighting the good fight despite the world turning against him, and when his troublesome friend arrives, plans take a turn.

Watching this movie is a truly humbling experience. It's always nice to remember that there are good people out there who are willing to work and take the extra mile for humanity. Even the people you'd least expect can surprise you in the most dire situation.

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A great movie, unjustly forgotten

Author: rrsthebest56 from Portugal
13 February 2014

After watching this fascinating movie for the first time, I picked up a book, in one of those coincidences that life gives to us that are completely unlikely, with the name Famous Quotes From Famous People. And in one of the various quotes that were printed in the pages of that little book, there was one that caught my attention, because it corresponded to the opinion I formed about this excellent work of art that my eyes had the pleasure to behold. The quote is from Robert Frost, one of the greatest authors of north-American poetry, and he says: "It is absurd to think that the only way to tell if a poem is lasting is to wait and see if it lasts. The right reader of a good poem can tell the moment it strikes him that he has taken an immortal wound — that he will never get over it." And if we change the "Poem" mentioned by Frost for "Movie", the opinion of the writer perfectly suits to Angels with Dirty Faces... and to many other movies I love, I confess. I say this because I think this film, directed by Michael Curtiz (the filmmaker who would make, some years later, that unforgettable classic called Casablanca, with Humphrey Bogart too, but here in Angels he has a supporting - but terrific! - role), has always been in the shadow of other great movies, much more popular, and this one had just endured because it obtained, over the decades, a legion of numerous fans of the treasures of Cinema (the picture has now a score of 8.0 on IMDb, which is very good). But if it were only "time" causes, as Frost said, Angels with Dirty Faces would be lost in that decade (not so) far away that was the thirties. If we expected the film would endure over the years (having neither great acclaim from critics the following decades, or the recognition of major institutions such as the American Film Institute), it would be as if it never existed. I mean, watching the quality of the negative (and we do not know if it is "the" negative) that was converted for the DVD so-so special edition of this motion picture, it's noticeable that it never had appropriate conditions of conservation (there are various faults, very visible, in the reels and in many frames, throughout the film).

But I said the movie was in the shadow. And then I talk again in Casablanca. That is, probably, the most popular title from Michael Curtiz's filmography. But it hid many other great movies of the director, such as this one. And I love Casablanca, it is one of my other favorite movies of all time. But it's sad when a motion picture almost "destroy" all the work of a filmmaker who, by the way, was one of the greatest professionals in his area at that time, because Curtiz has so much to explore (in quality and in quantity - in the year Angels was release, Curtiz made three other movies, almost simultaneously. And today, that's a big achievement, if we compare with the super- productions, many of them so uninteresting, that take too long to be made...), and this wonderful picture is the example of that quality, of the American classic Cinema that is impossible to remake today, because they are of a decade and of a period of Hollywood where the excellence of the production of the great directors were so inspiring, touching, and original. Angels with Dirty Faces is a movie of a genre that was fashionable at the time it debuted: the gangster movies, and when were made terrific and terrible and "standard" titles in that genre. It is like the westerns. Many of them were made in the "golden ages" of the cowboy movie stories, but very few of them stood out. Many of the gangster movies had just beatings, corruption and vulgar love stories...

However, there are always isolated spots in the middle of the ocean, and Angels with Dirty Faces elevates the genre of the gangster film to a higher level, as can also give some touches of film noir and good drama that attach to this work a superlative quality. The story is told in a fluid way, very quickly but without losing any shred of credibility.

The result of this variety of stories (which are all very simple, but with more depth than they appear) is a powerful and unparalleled work in the Classic Cinema. Michael Curtiz's achievement is intelligent and emotionally overwhelming, and I enjoyed the strong use of light in the scenarios, the photography of the scenes (which loses some of its glimmer because of the degraded copy of the DVD), the performances of the actors, the script, which has great quotes and is very well planned, executed and interpreted. The soundtrack is excellent and fits perfectly with the whole film, being well selected and organized. I emphasize also the camera angles, approaching us from the characters and the environments that surround them (and with that Curtiz showed one of its greatest strengths and talents), and that was the cause of my excitement with the last moments of the film ((such as the apotheosis of Cagney and O'Brien, showing that friendship and human dignity has no limits, regardless of the environment in which we were born). Angels with Dorty Faces is, for me, and I say this without fear, a masterpiece. This movie shows how certain classics, even if they can not withstand the time, the lists of critics and all those things, they can always, if they're good, get a cult of fans delighted with it, managing to increase interest in discovering this movie treasures.

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The Quintessential Gangster Movie.

Author: sbrenn01 from United States
3 October 2013

One of my top five movies of all time. I won't make any commentary on the movie itself(not sure if citing one line of a movie constitutes a 'spoiler' violation).

I've seen a lot of movies from the silent Sennett comedies, Fairbanks athletics, Cheney's makeup transformations right up through today's films (thank you old first-generation UHF and now TCM), but this one is the one that by which every good gangster movie since must be judged.

The story is as intense as Scarface (both Muni and Pachino), or most any Cagney role from Public Enemy on. If you like movies like Petrified Forest, Casablanca, High Sierra you're going to see Bogart do it to perfection in his role. Of course, the Dead End Kids present a version of young 1930's era street-wise kids that by today's standards are gentle souls.

I find all of the older movies fascinating glimpses into the times from which the movies were created; the cinematography, dialogue, city scenes, day-to-day living, the roadways of the day all provide a spectacular look at the past, and this 75 year old movie delivers that by the bucket-load.

The actors are all top-tier, the storyline takes off like an F-16 and doesn't stop.

Cagney sets the bar in this 75 year old film, and I haven't yet seen anyone surpassing him.

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