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4.6 out of 5 stars
The Roaring Twenties [1939] [DVD]
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 27 July 2005
This movie - the pluperfect example of the Warner gangster film - seems a better film today than at the time it was released. Directed with flair by Raoul Walsh, it moves at a cracking pace and is especially well cast with a gallery of Warner Bros regulars. Cagney dominates the picture with one of his most likeable and poignant performances, always full of humour and above all, humanity. The attention to period detail is outstanding and especially, with regard to its music score - a brilliant collage of contemporary popular songs woven into a marvellous dramatic score by that unsung genius, Ray Heindorf who also provides the knockout orchestrations.
The finale is pure magic, as Cagney dies in the arms of Gladys George, on the steps of a large church (one of the most ubiquitous standing sets on the Warner Lot - Bette Davis runs up those steps at the start of Deception (1946) and it stood in as a Court House in a dozen films). Bogart makes a great ratfaced crook and his verbal sparring with Cagney is a delight.
The DVD is all one could ever wish for - a sparkling restoration with terrific sound and a host of extras to delight the most discerning of buffs. My only quibble - for some weird reason, my copy lost synchronisation between sound & picture for about 15 minutes (Reel 2?). However, I have seen other copies and it was fine.
Bravo Warners! This great film is now immortally preserved and its stature can only grow with each passing decade. The last line is one of the great curtain calls...and if you don't feel your eyes moisten, you are made of stone.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 May 2014
Three American soldiers meet in WW1, after the conflict is over, they come out of the army and when they return to the streets of New York, find themselves penniless and jobless.
However with the introduction of the Volstead Act it is not long before two out the three friends are bootlegging booze and soon join forces and begin to run booze through the speakeasies of New York and across prohibition America, creating their own empire.
Inevitably this leads to not only trouble from the law, but also enticing a feeding frenzy of mobster sharks, who're also trying to monopolize New York's underground liquor racket. But the friends are tough and manage to see off all competition, that is until the biggest threat to the friends' empire comes in the unlikely form of a young female singer..

This is a great gangster film, that's up there with the best. Cagney plays the lead anti~hero, with Bogart as his sadistic partner. The feel and look of this are pretty much before it's time and The Roaring Twenties still has a lot of style even today. The support cast (especially George) do a fine job, even though you could argue that the dialogue makes it easy for them, written as well as it is!
Ultimately it's a rise and fall story, with the friends becoming enemies and a few other twists along the way, until the conclusion, which should satisfy most gangster film fans. With fans of Bullet in the Head (1990) ( Die xue jie tou ) ( Bloodshed in the Streets ) sure to see similarities.
After all, personally I think this is probably right up there with Cagney's best stuff..

The dvd version I saw was the TCM 'prohibition gangster collection'. The print was very clear.

4.5/5
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 2009
brilliant old style movie. A classic, and typical of the day. Loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This film is not the best of the thirties gangster films. Its starts promising but then starts to drag its feet with mundane predictability. Around its time the gangster film had started to wane and with The Roaring Twenties its not difficult to understand why. It just does not compare to the likes of Little Ceaser, Scarface, The Public Enemy and others.
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on 8 June 2012
Arguably the best gangster movie ever made and one of the best lines spoken by the wonderful Gladys George at the films end.This charts the rise and fall ,basically,of a bootlegger during this period.First rate performances from Cagney ,Bogart and the aforementioned Ms George(who really brings some pathos to scenes as Panama Smith).Jeffrey Lynn and Priscilla Lane ,the other main protaganists are,i'm afraid,the weaker set of characters here and slightly let the film down (other wise I would have given this film 5 stars)
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on 12 April 2013
James Cagney was surely born to make this movie. One of the best films about the unpopular prohibition period in America's history, Cagney displays all the acting attributes that made him famous, without ever referring to large unhealthy rodents. He makes and looses a fortune, doesn't get the girl, takes care of Bogart, saves his old friend before dying magnificently in a hail of bullets on the steps of a church.

Need I say more?

Excellent!
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on 10 March 2015
Just.....brilliant. For want of a better phrase, "they don't make em like they used to".........buy it, dedicate yourself (and maybe your broad/fella) a long, interruption free Saturday evening, phones off, laptops off, everything off but the TV (lights off too please), and if you're flush 'm-wave yourself up a bag of Butterkist popcorn, and sit back and watch a 'proper' film, like they used to and should still make em, peace out x
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on 11 August 2012
This is a terrific film which represents the apogee of the 1930s American gangster film. A deft portrayal of an unsavoury period in US social history as experienced by a handful of its protagonists, the film is brilliantly conceived, acted and directed; for my money, this is James Cagney at the peak of his lengendary powers and Priscilla Lane is gorgeous too!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Warner Bros. Pictures presents "THE ROARING TWENTIES" (1939) (106 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Starring James Cagney, Priscilla Lane, Humphrey Bogart, Gladys George, Jeffrey Lynn & Frank McHugh

Directed by Raoul Walsh

Based upon an idea by Broadway columnist Mark Hellinger, The Roaring Twenties opens during World War I as Eddie Bartlett (Cagney), Lloyd Hart (Jeffrey Lynn) and George Hally (Bogart) discuss what they will do when the war is over. Bartlett wants to go back to repairing cabs, and Hart yearns to be a lawyer, but it becomes clear that Hally has less reputable plans in mind for himself. Come the end of the war, things are not as easy for veterans like Bartlett as they should be. He is unable to get his old job back and ends up driving a cab for little money. One night he is asked to deliver a package (which turns out to be whiskey) to an address that turns out to be a speakeasy. This starts him on a life of crime, as he gets deeper involved as a bootlegger. Things are not made easy by a rival bootlegger who turns out to be Hally. The two join forces and prosper. Hart shares in their prosperity, as Bartlett engages him to take care of his legal matters.

Bogart's portrayal was interesting as we watched him coldly murder an ex-army sergeant who had given him a rough time in the service

It is impressive the capacity of the screenplay writers and director Raoul Walsh in developing a complex and magnificent dramatic story of crime and romance, supported by historic events.

Cagney, whose energy gave him a panerotic sexual magnetism, was very evident with his two relationships which both tend to increase our valuation of Cagney as a person as are the two ladies involved: Priscilla Lane and Gladys George who both had feelings for him.

Fabulous in every way - a Warner Bros tour de force - Cagney & Bogie: the combination is dynamite!

BIOS:
1. Raoul Walsh (Director)
Date of Birth: 11 March 1887 - New York, New York
Date of Death: 31 December 1980 - Simi Valley, California

2. James Cagney [aka: James Francis Cagney]
Date of Birth: 17 July 1899 - New York City, New York
Date of Death: 30 March 1986 - Stanfordville, New York

3. Humphrey Bogart
Date of Birth: 25 December 1899 - New York City, New York
Date of Death: 14 January 1957 - Los Angeles, California

4. Priscilla Lane [aka: Priscilla Mullican]
Date of Birth: 12 June 1915 - Indianola, Iowa
Date of Death: 4 April 1995 - Andover, Massachusetts

5. Gladys George
Date of Birth: 13 September 1900 - Patten, Maine
Date of Death: 8 December 1954 - Los Angeles, California

Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]

Total Time: 106 min on DVD ~ Warner Bros. Pictures ~ (01/21/2005)
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on 18 November 2008
This movie shows Cagney getting pulled into a life of crime, and we see how he goes from a regular, likeable Joe into a ruthless gangster. It's a great story and Bogart gives a great turn as Cagney's partner in crime. This is a brilliant gangster movie and pure entertainment. Great stuff!
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