The Roaring Twenties (1939)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir  |  23 October 1939 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 8,862 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


Biggest of all the Cagney smashes! (Trade Paper ad) 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?


In an earlier crime film, Lights of New York (1928), the term "Roaring Forties" is used to describe the "fast lane" Times Square area of New York City. At the end of that film, a police officer says to the lead character, "Leave the roaring forties to roar without you". In Tin Pan Alley (1940), set at the turn of the 20th century, the term "The Roaring Forties" is then used to describe the area of the famous songwriting capital, in New York City, known as "Tin Pan Alley". "The Roaring Twenties" became a common term to describe an entire decade, with the popularity of this 1939 James Cagney / Humphrey Bogart classic. See more »


When the gangsters hurl bombs at a storefront from the car, watch the prop explosives bounce off the building and roll into the street before the blast. See more »


Eddie Bartlett: You always said you were going to take real good care of me, didn't you George?
George Halley: Wait a minute Eddie, I can explain!
Eddie Bartlett: Here's one rap you ain't gonna beat!
[fires twice]
See more »


Referenced in Midnight Movies: From the Margin to the Mainstream (2005) See more »


I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles
(1918) (uncredited)
Music by John W. Kellette
Played by an organ grinder after Eddie returns from WWI
See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting Foursome
14 November 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Two of the most famous actors of their day - James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart - are featured here, along with two very interesting women (Priscilla Lane and Gladys George). That foursome would be fun to join anywhere.

Lane is the wholesome pretty girl and George is the tough female bar owner. The latter may not look as good but she delivers the best film noir lines in the movie near the end.

In addition, Jefferey Lynn is good as the clean-cut, nice-guy attorney and Frank McHugh draws laughs as Cagney's buddy (as in real life). Paul Kelly is convincing as a hood.

With this cast, you know you are going to get a well-acted movie. It moves at a good pace, too, with few lulls. The gangster language of the period was fun to hear.

The first time I saw this film I was disappointed. Maybe I expected too much. On the second viewing, I throughly enjoyed it. Having a great DVD transfer on the second viewing didn't hurt, either. It's a nice sharp picture.

18 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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