7.9/10
19,467
149 user 39 critic

Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 26 November 1938 (USA)
Trailer
3:19 | Trailer
A priest tries to stop a gangster from corrupting a group of street kids.

Director:

Michael Curtiz

Writers:

John Wexley (screen play), Warren Duff (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 2 wins. See more awards »

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Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Cagney ... Rocky Sullivan
Pat O'Brien ... Jerry Connolly
Humphrey Bogart ... James Frazier
Ann Sheridan ... Laury Martin
George Bancroft ... Mac Keefer
The Dead End Kids The Dead End Kids ... (as The 'Dead End' Kids)
Billy Halop ... Soapy
Bobby Jordan ... Swing
Leo Gorcey ... Bim
Gabriel Dell ... Pasty
Huntz Hall ... Crab
Bernard Punsly ... Hunky (as Bernard Punsley)
Joe Downing Joe Downing ... Steve
Edward Pawley ... Edwards
Adrian Morris Adrian Morris ... Blackie
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Storyline

Two boyhood friends, Rocky Sullivan and Jerry Connolly have taken different paths in life. After Rocky is arrested he is sent to a juvenile facility and becomes a lifelong tough guy and criminal. Jerry on the other hand goes straight and becomes a Catholic priest ministering to people in the same neighborhood when he and Rocky grew up. When Rocky is released from prison he resumes his criminal lifestyle and becomes much admired by many of the local kids. Worried that the kids will follow Rocky into the criminal world, Jerry works hard to keep them on the straight and narrow. When Rocky is convicted and sentenced to the electric chair, Jerry asks him for one last favor. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Sensational Human Drama... Terrific Thrills And Suspense! See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Towards the end of the movie, when the prison guard warns Rocky that he only has ten minutes to go, there are exactly ten minutes left in the movie. See more »

Goofs

During the course of the final shootout, the pattern of broken glass changes. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Jerry, As a Boy: Bulls eye!
William 'Rocky' Sullivan, as a boy: It's as dead as a door nail around here.
Jerry, As a Boy: Yeah.
See more »

Alternate Versions

The version that opened in Chicago cut Cagney and O'Brien's scene before the execution, so that audiences were left with the impression that Rocky had turned yellow at his execution. The version shown in Australia and New Zealand went even further, cutting the breakdown scene and the Dead End kid's reaction to it. See more »

Connections

Featured in Angela's Ashes (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

From Me to You
(uncredited)
Written by Fabian Andre, Wayne King and Nat Conney
Played from when Bim sinks the 3-ball in the corner to the end of the pool room scene
See more »

User Reviews

 
An absolute classic
3 January 2005 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

Michael Curtiz has made some great films, yet the only one that tends to be well received among film fans is his contender for the best movie ever made - obviously Casablanca (and Robin Hood, to a lesser extent). However, the man has a wealth of other influential classics under his belt that don't tend to get the recognition that they deserve, and Angels With Dirty Faces is one of those films. To sum the film up easily, one would say that it is a crime drama. However; like the best crime dramas, this one has multiple themes that elevate it from being merely a film about crime, to being a character study, a portrait of what it is that makes a hero and a condemnation of criminals on the whole. The story follows Rocky Sullivan and Jerry Connolly; two young New York thugs, the former of which is caught by the police and sent to a reform school, where, ironically, he learns to be a criminal. The latter escapes punishment and goes on to become a priest. The story follows these two men as they meet up as adults and have an effect on the lives of the kids of their old neighbourhood.

The focus of the film is always centred on the neighbourhood. This allows Curtiz to show us the effects that Rocky's criminal endeavours have on the kids of the neighbourhood more effectively. This sort of narrative would be employed in later films, such as the critically acclaimed 'City of God', and works well here too. The way the film shows how impressionable young kids can be influenced by adults works brilliantly, and Curtiz is able to continue this theme up until the powerful ending. James Cagney would later go on to achieve major fame in the incredible 'White Heat', but here he shows us what the quintessential New York gangster would be like. His performance, in short, is incredible and easily ranks among the best gangster roles of all time. The rest of the cast do well in their roles, with distinct New York accents helping to firmly place the audience in the city that the film is taking place in. Furthermore, the film is economic in the way it's plotted and it's also very exciting, and therefore guaranteed to delight it's audience.

Angels With Dirty Faces is an absolute cinema classic and quite why it isn't more famous is anyone's guess. Although not quite as good as Casablanca, this is a major notch in Michael Curtiz's filmography and I wouldn't have any qualms with recommending this to film fans at all.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

26 November 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Battle of City Hall See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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