The Roaring Twenties (1939)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  23 October 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 8,866 users  
Reviews: 73 user | 37 critic

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



(screen play), (screen play), 5 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeffrey Lynn ...
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 ...
George Meeker ...
Robert Elliott ...
First Detective
Eddy Chandler ...
Second Detective (as Eddie Chandler)


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 <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The land of the free gone wild! The heyday of the hotcha! The shock-crammed days G-men took ten whole years to lick! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 October 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The World Moves On  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This marked the end of James Cagney's cycle of gangster films for Warner Bros. Cagney wanted to diversify his roles and would not play a gangster again until White Heat (1949), ten years later. See more »


(at around 1 min) As the former sergeant (now a security guard) is locking up a gate after letting a car pass, the background is clearly a painted set (including phony light fixtures in 2-D). See more »


Panama Smith: I think you're a pretty decent guy. I like to talk to decent guys. They're hard to find.
See more »


Featured in Johnny Dangerously (1984) See more »


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

In this movie, Bogart proves to be the sneering, sadistic gangster…

After nearly a decade of concentrating on the gangster period of the twenties, it appeared that Warner Brothers had decided to make one, final glorified kiss-off to the genre in the spectacularly staged "The Roaring Twenties."

Director Raoul Walch was an odd choice for what turned out to be a first-rate action film, for Walsh was not normally a crime-film director… The film contained every possible cliché connected with the era…

Bogart's portrayal was interesting as we watched him coldly murder an ex-army sergeant who had given him a rough time in the service, and then set put to get rid of Jeffrey Lynn, now a successful lawyer working for the district attorney and intent on crushing Bogart's empire…

Cagney, whose energy gave him a panerotic sexual magnetism, was evident with his two relationships which both tend to increase our valuation of Cagney as a person as are the two ladies involved: Priscilla Lane, the innocent whom Cagney helps and loves, and the experienced Gladys George who is evidently devoted to him but never expresses her feelings to him…

This basic relationship between Cagney and the two female characters does not take away the great merit of "The Roaring Twenties"—much more it proves the skill of Raoul Walsh and the writers in deploying conventional elements in an effective and meaningful way…

39 of 47 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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