It's the early days of the F.B.I. - federal agents working for the Department of Justice. Though they've got limited powers - they don't carry weapons and have to get local police approval ... See full summary »
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>
This film started a nostalgia craze. Disc jockeys began to run Roaring Twenties music. Producer Mark Hellinger was an important guest on singer Bing Crosby's Kraft Music Hall radio show and singer Kate Smith promoted the film on all of her radio programs. Both Life and Look magazines published "Roaring Twenties" layouts. See more »
When Jean is singing "It Had to Be You" as Eddie and George hijack trucks from a warehouse, Panama is sitting at a table with her hands folded in front of her. The only thing on the table is a drink and what appears to be a center piece that could be a candle. Jean walks & sings her way thru the audience past Panama, until Jean's body blocks the camera's view of Panama for a brief moment. Then when Jean takes a step, for a split second, Panama can be seen, in the darkened background smoking. She was not holding a cigarette and there was no smoke from one in an ashtray, as Jean passed the table. A few moments later the song ends, there is a cut back to Panama and she is sitting in her original pose with hands clasped in front of her, again. See more »
[the men are taking cover in a bombed-out farmhouse, shooting at German soldiers somewhere off-screen. Lloyd takes aim at a German soldier, but hesitates, then lowers his rifle]
Whatsa' matta', "Harvard," did you lose the Heine?
No... but he looks like a kid, about 15 years old.
[Aims his rifle and without any hesitation shoots the young German soldier]
He won't be sixteen.
[Seconds later, a fellow soldier rushes in to tell them the war is over, the Armistice has been signed]
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Not as well remembered as "Little Caesar" or "Public Enemy," "The Roaring Twenties" is the culmination of a decade's worth of Warner Brothers gangster films. It was also James Cagney's last tough guy role at the studio for almost a decade.
Cagney is criticized by some in this one for not packing the cinematic punch he did in "Public Enemy" or "White Heat." But this film was the brain child of former Broadway columnist Mark Hellinger and was written as almost an ode to the Damon Runion-like characters Hellinger knew when he prowled the great white way during the 20s. Hellinger was a regular at the famous El Fey club and friend of Texas Guinan, the wild saloon hostess who personified the twenties. Cagney's good/bad guy character, Eddie Bartlett, was in fact based on Larry Fay, the cab driver turned bootlegger who opened the El Fey and hired Guinan as his hostess. Fay is also believed to have been one of the inspirations for F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby." Bartlett is meant to symbolize,not a psychotic criminal, but more the social confusion that resultedfrom the passage of a highly unpopular law meant to regulate character,which wound up having the absolute opposite effect, spawning an era of lawlessness.
Although Cagney dominates every scene he is in, the more ominous gangster in the film is played by Humphrey Bogart in one of his best performances prior to assuming character roles in the late 40s. His trigger happy hood was probably fashioned after Owen "Ownie the Killer" Madden, the bootlegger who bought into Harlem's Cotton Club and formed a loose alliance with Fay.
Strong supporting work comes from Gladys George, who plays Panama Smith, the Texas Guinan character.
This picture is slick, well produced, uniformly well acted under the direction of action specialist Raoul Walsh and features some great Cagney stick. When he exploded on screen, there was no one like him.
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