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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 <email@example.com>
At the Panama Club, Eddie's glass of milk and the other two drinks disappear from the table just before the table gets flipped over and the brawl sequence begins. See more »
[after a shootout in the club, all the patrons run out in a panic and as the bodies are being carried out]
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I'm looking for some excitement. There's a lull in the action
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"The Roaring Twenties" more or less marked the end of Warner Bros. gangster films popular during the 1930s. For the next few years WWII would form the backdrop of their action films.
This one is full of action and memorable characters due largely to the presence of legendary director Raoul Walsh and its stellar cast.
Three soldiers meet on the WWI battlefield in 1918. One is the all good lawyer Lloyd Hart (Jeffrey Lynn), one the thoroughly bad George Hally (Humphrey Bogart) and the third, an everyman named Eddie Bartlett (James Cagney). Eddie is smitten with a girl, Jean Sherman (Priscilla Lane) who has been corresponding with him from home.
When the war ends Eddie returns to New York and hooks up with buddy Danny Green (Frank McHugh) who is a Gabie. Eddie goes to meet Jean but is disappointed to learn that she is just a teenager. Unable to find work, Eddie is forced to share the driving of Danny's cab. In the meantime, prohibition takes effect and Eddie discovers that bootlegging is the way to get rich. At the onset he meets saloon girl Panama Smith (Gladys George) who turns out to be his only friend.
Fast forward to 1924 and Eddie re-discovers Jean in a chorus line and decides to take a hand in her career. Eddie is now hopelessly in love with Jean much to the dismay of Panama. Jean however, is in love with Lloyd who has turned up as Eddie's lawyer. One night while hijacking a load of booze from rival gangster Nick Brown (Paul Kelly), Eddie meets up with George Hally (what are the chances of that?) who works for Brown. Hally decides to double cross Brown and throw in with Eddie. All the while Eddie is buying up taxis until he has immersed a fleet of 2,000 cabs.
Everything is running smoothly until Hally begins to get his own ambitions and sets up Brown to Murder Eddie. The plot fails. Meanwhile Jean leaves Eddie and runs off with Lloyd and Eddie begins to drink. At the same time come the stock market crash of 1929 and Eddie is ruined. Hally however, didn't play the stocks and buys out Eddie's cab business for a small figure and leaves Eddie with but one cab for himself.
Eddie hits the skids along with the ever faithful Panama until Hally threatens Jean and Lloyd and.............
Cagney as usual dominates the picture. He is his usual cocky Irish tough guy but with character flaws. His love for Jean ultimately is what destroys him. Lane contributes a couple of classic songs (in her own voice) as Jean. Bogart as the thoroughly evil Hally gives us a preview of the Bogart tough guy image to come in the 40s. Gladys George almost steals the picture from Cagney as the tragic Panama and McHugh is sympathetic as Danny.
Oddly enough, for a gangster picture, there are no major characters in respect of crusading cops or district attorneys. All of the action is between the gangsters.
Cagney would not appear in another gangster film for ten years until "White Heat" (1949).
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