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Angels Wash Their Faces (1939)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 26 August 1939 (USA)
A young man just released from a reformatory moves to a new neighborhood with his sister, intending to start a new life. However, he gets mixed up with the local mob boss and corrupt ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sleepy Arkelian (as Bernard Punsley)
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A young man just released from a reformatory moves to a new neighborhood with his sister, intending to start a new life. However, he gets mixed up with the local mob boss and corrupt politicians and soon finds himself being framed for an arson and murder he didn't commit. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

26 August 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Battle of City Hall  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The sixth of seven movies featuring the original six Dead End Kids. See more »


Pat Remson: I'm getting tired of telling you, your beautiful.
Joy Ryan: But, I"m not getting tired of hearing it.
Pat Remson: That's the marvelous thing about you. You're the only person in the world who likes my dialogue.
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Followed by Mug Town (1942) See more »


A-Tisket A-Tasket
Traditional children's song
Played by an organ grinder and whistled by Jackie Searl when the boys encounter Alfred Goonplatz
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Surprisingly fun
30 August 2007 | by See all my reviews

The film begins with a bunch of kids in reform school and focuses on a kid named 'Gabe', who has apparently worked hard to earn his parole. Gabe and his sister move to a new neighborhood to make a fresh start and soon Gabe meets up with the Dead End Kids. The Kids in this film are little punks, but they are much less antisocial than they'd been in other previous films and down deep, they are well-meaning punks. However, in this neighborhood there are also some criminals who are perpetrating insurance fraud through arson and see Gabe as a convenient scapegoat--after all, he'd been to reform school and no one would believe he was innocent once he was framed. So, when Gabe is about ready to be sent back to "The Big House", it's up to the rest of the gang to save him and expose the real crooks.

The "Dead End Kids" appeared in several Warner Brothers films in the late 1930s and the films were generally very good (particularly ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES). However, after the boys' contracts expired, they went on to Monogram Studios and the films, to put it charitably, were very weak and formulaic--with Huntz Hall and Leo Gorcey being pretty much the whole show and the group being renamed "The Bowery Boys". Because ANGELS WASH THEIR FACES had the excellent writing and production values AND Hall and Gorcey were not constantly mugging for the camera, it's a pretty good film--and almost earns a score of 7 (it's REAL close). In fact, while this isn't a great film aesthetically, it's sure a lot of fun to watch, so I will give it a 7! Sure, it was a tad hokey-particularly towards the end when the kids take the law into their own hands and Reagan ignores the Bill of Rights--but it was also quite entertaining. The Dead End Kids are doing their best performances and Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan provided excellent support. Sure, this part of the film was illogical and impossible but somehow it was still funny and rather charming--so if you can suspend disbelief, it works well.

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