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The Roaring Twenties (1939)

Not Rated | | Action, Crime, Drama | 28 October 1939 (USA)
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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:

Biggest of all the Cagney smashes! (Trade Paper ad) 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

When the three ex-cons come to Eddie's garage looking for a job, the tall ex-con is Raymond Bailey. When asked by Eddie what he was in jail for, the ex-con (Raymond Bailey) replies: "I worked in a bank". Ironically, Raymond would wind up actually playing a bank President 23 years later as Milburn Drysdale in the popular 1962 sitcom: "The Beverly hillbillies" See more »

Goofs

The head-shot photo of Eddie Bartlett shown in close-up on his New York City Taxi License card, seen by Jean when she gets into his cab, is obviously a still photo taken during the filming of that scene, with the card closeup edited in later. He is wearing not only the same cap in both the scene and the ID photo, but also the same crooked tie, the same facial expression, and a vertical seam from the back seat upholstery is visible behind him. 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 La saga Warner Bros (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Swanee
(1919) (uncredited)
Music by George Gershwin
Played at the speakeasy behind the paint store
Also played during the subsequent montage
See more »

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User Reviews

Vintage Warner Brothers of the thirties
2 August 2005 | by Tony43See all my reviews

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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