Normally I would rather watch paint dry than watch a gangster movie but as there was nothing I had not seen in the DVD pile it was this or a Western. I don't think I could be that bored ever that I would choose the Western!
A good thing was when I read the cast and I had at least heard of the stars- James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart and Ann Sheridan so it must have something going for it to draw such big names.
The Story-or part of it.
Childhood friends go their separate ways after a robbery goes wrong. After saving Jerry's (Pat O Brien) life, Rocky (James Cagney) is captured and goes to prison and Jerry turns his life around to become a priest. On his release Rocky carries on a life of crime and ends up with a reputation as a gangster.
Jerry has dedicated himself to keeping boys out of criminal activity but Rockys' return risks ruining that as he soon becomes a hero to them. He gets deeper and deeper into crime and as a result finds that he is causing conflict for his former friend and still feels the need to protect him.
I like the way the two men still remember how close they were as boys and despite their very different lifestyles now still have a degree of loyalty. I was also surprised to see Humphrey Bogart playing a baddie - although that may be more to do with me knowing little about gangster films than the facts.
Saying any more about the ending will be giving too much away but as far as I am concerned it is an ideal ending. I can't say that this is a film I will praise to much as I found Humphrey Bogart quite hard to understand and some of the young boys acting was not that good - I have never heard of any of them so it seems they did not go onto have great careers.
The thing that saved it for me was the shock ending. How likely it is that such a case would end that way I don't know but it was a twist for me.
Here is the full cast - you may know the ones I don't.
James Cagney as Rocky Sullivan
Pat O'Brien as Fr. Jerry Connolly
Humphrey Bogart as Jim Frazier
Ann Sheridan as Laury Martin
George Bancroft as Mac Keefer
Billy Halop as Soapy
Bobby Jordan as Swing
Leo Gorcey as Bim
Gabriel Dell as Pasty
Huntz Hall as Crab
Bernard Punsly as Hunky
Joe Downing as Steve
Edward Pawley as Edwards, guard
Adrian Morris as Blackie
Frankie Burke as William "Rocky" Sullivan, as a boy
William Tracy as Jerome "Jerry" Connelly, as a boy
Marilyn Knowlden as Laury Martin, as a child
Release date was November 24, 1938 and the running time is 97 minutes.
The Director is Michael Curtiz and it is produced by Samuel Bischoff
A nice enough story that was a bit better than I was expecting but not good enough to make me watch again.
As I result I think 3 stars is fair.
James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart as gangster. Ned I say more than that? Not really. But I will anyway, because this film deserves it.
James Cagney stars as Rocky Sullivan, a young man who starts out on a life of crime with his partner Jerry. He is arrested,while Jerry gets away, and after a while he is released form prison and he climbs his way to the top of the crime pyramid. However, Jerry (played as an adult by Pat O'Brien), has since reformed himself and become a Priest.
Paying a visit to his old neighbourhood, Rocky he finds Jerry running his own Church and trying to run a youth club for young men to keep them away from Crime. The young men are all taken by him, and start to rebel a bit as they want to be like Rocky. Rocky in turn uses the boys more and more to help him, and they soon turn their back on the Church to try and follow a life of crime.
At the same time, he meets up with another old partner and his lawyer Frazier (Humphrey Bogart), who has since made new deals and is trying to keep Rocky out. Rocky is clever though, and he soon works out that Frazier is after him. So he turns it all around and kills Frazier.
After finding out that Frazier has been killed, and that Rocky is using the boys, Jerry decides that no matter how much he likes Rocky, he has to stop him. So he sets out to stop Rocky, no matter what. Rocky can't kill his old friend, so tries to elude him and the police as much as possible, leading to a fabulous shootout and a finale worthy only of James Cagney.
Both Pat O'Brien and Humphrey Bogart hold their own own in this film. Bogart is on very fine form as the subtle but corrupt lawyer Frazier. But, as always, it's James Cagney who steals the film all the way. His cool acting style keeps your eyes glued to the screen for the whole film.
Any film that stars Bogart and Cagney has to be well worth a watch. This film pairs them up in a good bad guy/bad bad guy way so that it creates a twin parallel. The main parallel is between Cagney and Pat O'Brian one of whom becomes a gangster the other a priest. Along the way Cagney builds something of a following amongst the local kids and when it comes his turn for to go must decide whether or not to the right thing in order to save the kids future. A wise-cracking gun-toting barrel of fun from start to finish. I can highly recommend this to anyone who likes those classic tough guy movies. Up there with Scarface and White Heat.
As a child of about 4 I remember, one Christmas time, watching Angels with Dirty faces at my nan's house on a really old black and white TV. To this day, more than 40 years on, I can still remember how I felt when I watched the end of the film. Starring James (you dirty rat) Cagney and Pat O'Brian, it is the story of childhood friends going in two different directions. O'Brian becomes a priest and Cagney follows a life of crime. He is seen by some kids as a hero, he always stays cool, some try to emulate him. Unfortunately Cagney's lifestyle catches up with him and he is sentenced to death. Acting the hard man he refuses O'Brian's request to stop acting so hard, let the kids learn that it was a terrible thing to be sentenced to the chair. O'Brian believed that if Cagney would show that he, too, could know fear, it might stop them leading such a life of crime. It's this bit that got me. You don't see anything but shadows of Cagney being put in the chair but then you hear his cries and pleas. I remember how that sent a shudder through me. Dated, over-acted but very good.