26 user 11 critic

The Doorway to Hell (1930)

Passed | | Crime, Drama | 18 October 1930 (USA)
Despite his efforts to go straight, a young gangster keeps falling back into crime.


Archie Mayo


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


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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


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


Inside you see the terrors of organized crime - the land of cross and double-cross - where the best you can get is the worst of it! See more »


Crime | Drama


Passed | See all certifications »






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


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


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 »


In Louie's last room there is a picture of Napolean on the wall. The label showing the title of the picture "Napolean in Exile" appears and disappears between shots. See more »


Kitty - Fortune Teller: Say, Jane, has Whitey been double-crossing anybody lately?
Jane: No.
Kitty - Fortune Teller: Well, I don't know. These cards read awfully funny.
See more »


Referenced in Tales from the Warner Bros. Lot (2013) See more »


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

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User Reviews

Some memorable gangster cliches began in this movie.
31 May 2001 | by reptilicusSee all my reviews

I first wanted to viddy this interesting piece of sinny because it offered a pre-PUBLIC ENEMY look at James Cagney. Imagine my surprise to find out it is also Dwight Frye's first talkie! Yes, the man who would find fame as Renfield in DRACULA and Fritz in FRANKENSTEIN appears in this film too. Billed way at the bottom of the opening credits as simply "gangster", Dwight's character is called "Monk" and is one of the first people we meet in the film. That old cliche of the gangster who carries a tommy-gun in a violin case got started with this film and Dwight is the fellow toting the lethal instrument. When he strolls out of a pool room with his violin case under his arm he offhandedly comments "I'm gonna teach a guy a lesson." with a sardonic smile on his face. The lines "Take a guy for a ride" and "Put a guy on the spot" originated with this film too. Lew Ayers, fresh from ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT is the real hero, or should I say anti-hero, of the movie and Cagney exhibits the screen personality that aimed him directly at the bullseye of Hollywood stardom but being a lifelong fan of character actors, I now like this film for Dwight Frye's brief, but memorable, appearance.

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