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The Roaring Twenties (1939)

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Three men attempt to make a living in Prohibitionist America after returning home from fighting together in World War I.

Director:

Raoul Walsh

Writers:

Jerry Wald (screen play), Richard Macaulay (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Cagney ... Eddie Bartlett
Priscilla Lane ... Jean Sherman
Humphrey Bogart ... George Hally
Gladys George ... Panama Smith
Jeffrey Lynn ... Lloyd Hart
Frank McHugh ... Danny Green
Paul Kelly ... Nick Brown
Elisabeth Risdon ... Mrs. Sherman (as Elizabeth Risdon)
Edward Keane ... Henderson (as Ed Keane)
Joe Sawyer ... The Sergeant - Pete Jones
Joseph Crehan ... Michaels
George Meeker ... Masters
John Hamilton ... Judge
Robert Elliott ... First Detective
Eddy Chandler Eddy Chandler ... Second Detective (as Eddie Chandler)
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Storyline

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 <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

1920 . . . Bootleggers, Jazz, Babe Ruth, Speakeasies, Jack Dempsey, Dames, Molls, Easy Living - Quick Dying . . . the torrid . . . blazing . . . wild . . . lush . . . lurid - ROARING TWENTIES ! ! ! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 October 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The World Moves On See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

In an earlier crime film, Lights of New York (1928), the term "Roaring Forties" is used to describe the "fast lane" Times Square area of New York City. At the end of that film, a police officer says to the lead character, "Leave the roaring forties to roar without you". In Tin Pan Alley (1940), set at the turn of the 20th century, the term "The Roaring Forties" is then used to describe the area of the famous songwriting capital, in New York City, known as "Tin Pan Alley". "The Roaring Twenties" became a common term to describe an entire decade, with the popularity of this 1939 James Cagney / Humphrey Bogart classic. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

George Halley: [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?
Lloyd Hart: No... but he looks like a kid, about 15 years old.
George Halley: -
[Aims his rifle and without any hesitation shoots the young German soldier]
George Halley: He won't be sixteen.
[Seconds later, a fellow soldier rushes in to tell them the war is over, the Armistice has been signed]
See more »

Connections

Featured in Hollywood: The Great Stars (1963) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Just Wild About Harry
(1921) (uncredited)
Music by Eubie Blake
Lyrics by Noble Sissle
Played during the opening and closing credits
Also played during the 1922 montage
Sung by Priscilla Lane at the club
See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the Best of Warner's Gangster Films!
22 February 2005 | by bsmith5552See all my reviews

"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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