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The Roaring Twenties (1939)

7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 7,871 users  
Reviews: 69 user | 36 critic

Three men attempt to make a living in Prohibitionist America after returning home from fighting together in World War I.

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(screen play), (screen play), 5 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Jeffrey Lynn ...
Frank McHugh ...
Danny Green
Paul Kelly ...
Nick Brown
Elisabeth Risdon ...
Mrs. Sherman (as Elizabeth Risdon)
Edward Keane ...
Henderson (as Ed Keane)
Joe Sawyer ...
The Sergeant - Pete Jones
Joseph Crehan ...
Michaels
George Meeker ...
Masters
John Hamilton ...
Judge
Robert Elliott ...
First Detective
Eddy Chandler ...
Second Detective (as Eddie Chandler)
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Storyline

After the WWI Armistice Lloyd Hart goes back to practice law, former saloon keeper George Hally turns to bootlegging, and out-of-work Eddie Bartlett becomes a cab driver. Eddie builds a fleet of cabs through delivery of bootleg liquor and hires Lloyd as his lawyer. George becomes Eddie's partner and the rackets flourish until love and rivalry interfere. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

America's Most Colorful Era ! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 October 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The World Moves On  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

On the night of the premiere, producer Mark Hellinger received a telegram to help calm his nerves. The telegram read: "From all the wonderful things I hear of 'The Roaring Twenties', I don't need to wish you good luck. Hope you don't suffer too much. Joan Crawford. See more »

Goofs

In the first scene in the foxhole, Cagney mentions cork tipped cigarettes. These weren't invented till 1936. See more »

Quotes

Eddie Bartlett: [speaking to Jean Sherman] You want the Brooklyn Bridge, all you gotta do is ask for it. If I can't buy it, I'll steal it.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in History's Mysteries: Five Points Gangs (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Carolina in the Morning
(1922) (uncredited)
Music by Walter Donaldson
Played when Eddie goes to the theater
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Chronicle of the causes and effects of National Prohibition of Alcoholic Beverages following World War I. "National Temperance" becomes parent of Organized Crime.
4 January 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

We may just be able to chalk it all up to "Nostalgia", but there's no denying that the Gangster Era, Prohibition, Speak Easies and Thompson Sub-Machine guns all seem to have a place in the hearts of most Americans. Libraries and Book Stores, be they one of those big chain shops or a small, independent Out offprint dealer, all prosper if they have an ample sized shelf of those Crime related volumes on hand.

So too it is with the motion picture with the Gangsters always seems to "pack 'em in." Down through the years we've seen an evolution of the Gangster Genre; with the changes in both storyline and stark "realism" all coming along in direct corresponding degrees to the changes of the mores of the times. Hence we would see many different attitudes portrayed in LITTLE CEASAR with Edward G. Robinson (Warner Bros., 1931), THE PUBLIC ENEMY starring James Cagney (Warners, 1931) and Paul Muni in SCARFACE (Caddo Co./United Artists. 1932) than we would see represented in AL CAPONE with Rod Steiger (Allied Artists, 1959), THE BROTHERHOOD starring Kirk Douglas (Brotherhood Co./Paramount Pictures, 1968), Robert Mitchum in THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE (Paramount Pictures, 1973), just to name a few.

When the great gangster pics are discussed and disgusted, it seems that Director Raoul Walsh's THE ROARING TWENTIES (Warner Brothers, 1939) seems to get the also ran treatment of a "B" Picture or something. It is a rap that is undeserved and should have a "Mass Media Pardon"from any such a shoddy reputation.

We watched it last night on Turner Classic Movies and got the pleasure of having the "kids" over, who were never exposed to it before. As for the wife and meself, it had been such a long time that it was almost like a brand new experience. The fact that TCM, like so many Cable/Satellite channels shows a picture start to finish, no commercials or interruptions whatsoever. And that alone proves to be most helpful in screening a picture.

It wasn't so long ago that the best we could do was to see a movie like this on the nightly movie. That meant our tolerating umpteen commercial breaks and many a film sans some of its footage, left out in order to fit the movie into a particular time slot and still being able to get in all those "Messages of Interest and Importance." We recall that our local Channel, WGN TV had presented THE ROARING 20's by starting the story with Cagney and Frank McHugh's ride out to Mineola, Long Island, New York to visit the young girl who corresponded during the World War, Jean Shepherd (Priscilla Lane). This meant that the scenes of battle in the trenches with James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Jeffrey Lynn and their nasty Sergeant, Joe Sawyer were never seen, that night. Bogie doesn't appear until about the halfway point. The conversations between the men made no sense without having benefit of seeing the prior encounters.

And now, it's Time for our Feature Review! OUR STORY……..THE ROARING TWENTIES is the film principally written by New York Broadway Columnist, Mark Hellinger. Like so many successful writers of great fiction, he took real people and situations and adapted them to a story, with fictitious names and made up places in New York City. Mr. Hellinger was well known as a writer about crime and was fascinated with those Damon Runyonesque Con Men, Hoods, High and Low ranking Gangsters, Hangers-on and Wannabees. He was also an incurable apologist for The Great White Way, Bagdad on the Trolley, the Big Apple, etc.

The story is one of real significance to countless thousands of our "Doughboys" of the American Expeditionary Force (or A.E.F.) to war weary Europe in 1917-18. You see, this was to be "a War to end all Wars", or a "War to make the World safe for Democracy." Those who survived combat in the trenches returned home to a short lived Hero's Welcome only to find out that the Country had voted itself dry in their absence. A popular song of the times asked, "How you gonna keep 'em down on the Farm now that they've seen Paris? (Pronounced Pair-ee!).

Lost jobs, an almost universal contempt for Prohibition and the general let down over the Wars failed mission ushered in "the Jazz Age", Flappers, Hip Flasks, Speak Easies and "Bath Tub Gin." The otherwise Law Abiding were corrupted with a giant case of "When in Rome…" or "Everybody's doing it" logic. As time passed, what had started out as a seemingly harmless participation in a highly unpopular, unfair and even Un-Constitutional Prohibition Law in the Volstead Act, became an Urban Civil War over sales and control of Booze in the various designated territories.

Some fortunes were made and some were lost as the decade came to nearing its end with the Great Stock Market Crash, on "Black Tuesday", October 29, 1929. The trumpeting herald had sounded as the signal of the beginning of some years of Economic Hardship of the Grerat Depression.

Mr. Hellinger's characters vividly portray the convulsions that the Country faced. Those, who once again were based on real life Bootleggers, Rum Runners, etc. were handily portrayed by the Warner Brothers stock company of players headed up by Mr. Cagney, Bogie, Jeffrey Lynn, Priscilla Lane, Gladys George, Frank McHugh, Elizabeth Risdon, Joe Sawyer, Dick Wessel, Ben Welden, Paul Kelly, John Hamilton, Abner Biberman and a cast of thousands! Mark Hellinger's story served as a fictionalized kaleidoscope of the bizarre events of American History during a 13 year period of time sandwiched into those years between the two great World Wars. By way of the drama, Hellinger tries his best to offer us perhaps not any excuses for the bad behaviour, but rather the reasons.


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