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25 user 11 critic

The Doorway to Hell (1930)

Lou Ricarno is a smart guy. His plan is to organize the various gangs in Chicago so that the mugs will not liquidate each other. WIth the success of his leadership, Louie prospers, marries ... See full summary »

Director:

Archie Mayo

Writers:

Rowland Brown (story "A Handful of Clouds"), George Rosener (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Lew Ayres ... Louie Ricarno
Charles Judels ... Florist (scenes deleted)
Dorothy Mathews ... Doris Ricarno
Leon Janney ... Jackie Ricarno
Robert Elliott ... Police Chief Pat O'Grady
James Cagney ... Steve Mileaway
Kenneth Thomson ... Captain of Academy
Jerry Mandy Jerry Mandy ... Joe - Gangster
Noel Madison ... Rocco
Edwin Argus Edwin Argus ... Midget
Eddie Kane Eddie Kane ... Dr. Morton
Tom Wilson Tom Wilson ... Big Shot Kelly - Gangster
Dwight Frye ... Monk - Gangster
Edit

Storyline

Lou Ricarno is a smart guy. His plan is to organize the various gangs in Chicago so that the mugs will not liquidate each other. WIth the success of his leadership, Louie prospers, marries Doris and retires to Florida to write his autobiography and play golf. In his absence the gang warfare flares, but he does not return as he wants to give a respectable image of life to his wife, younger brother and his Florida neighbors. While letters and telegrams from Mileaway will not influence his decision, events will. Written by Tony Fontana <tony.fontana@spacebbs.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

See LEW AYRES as the baby-faced Czar of Gangland...his greatest role since "All Quiet on the Western Front". (Print Ad- Arcadia Journal,((Arcadia, Calif.)) 6 January 1931) See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 October 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Handful of Clouds See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The $10 bill that Louie hands the delivery boy actually looks like a $10 bill, so whether it was real or counterfeit is academic. In the Pre-Code era, movie money tended to look like the real McCoy, and it wasn't until after the introduction and enforcement of the Production Code (in 1934) that movie money began to appear exactly like what it was, stage money. See more »

Goofs

What appears to be a typo in the gangland slaughter headline of the newspaper Louie reads in the boarding house - it reads 'grewsome' instead of 'gruesome' - is in fact an acceptable variant that was more popular at the time the film was released. See more »

Quotes

Hymie - a Gangster: Well, ya, you see, I-I mean no, I was, I, well I was only thinking...
Louie: Don't do that, it isn't good for you.
See more »


Soundtracks

Taps
(1862) (uncredited)
Written by Daniel Butterfield
Played by a bugler at the funeral
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Better than you've been led to expect
15 June 2005 | by klg19See all my reviews

Much has been said about Lew Ayres being miscast in this film, but I don't agree. The notion that a pretty young boy can't be a gangster is belied both by Ayres' performance and by history itself--Pretty Boy Floyd, anyone? (I should add, however, that Jimmy Cagney, in his autobiography, agreed with those who believed Ayres was too pretty to play a convincing gangster!)

This film is so much better than you'd think, and that is due not only to fine performances by Ayres and Cagney (make that, a WONDERFUL performance by Cagney, who really does ignite the screen), but also to impressive direction by Archie Mayo. I confess I usually think of Mayo as a pretty journeyman director, but maybe I've only seen his later work and "talkies" spoiled him. If you were to watch this film without sound, you'd be hyper-aware of the wonderful camera set-ups and editing, particularly during the prison break, when the screen is filled with jump cuts of men's legs running. Of course, without the sound, you'll miss the great period dialogue (a gangland ambush offers Ayres the opportunity to "walk into a handful of clouds").

TCM shows this film from time to time, and you really shouldn't miss it. It's well-written, well-directed, has great performances, and the closing lines (displayed as a printed page of the source story on the screen) are as poignant as anything you'll ever read.


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