Angels With Dirty Faces [VHS]
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Brooklyn gangster Rocky (James Cagney) and his childhood friend Jerry, now a priest (Pat O'Brien), compete for the respect of a bunch of neighbourhood delinquents. Meanwhile, Rocky tries to call in a debt from his crooked ex-partner (Humphrey Bogart). The adolescents are played by the Dead End Kids, first introduced to the screen a year earlier in 'Dead End', and destined to appear in several films thereafter.
Gangster Rocky Sullivan (James Cagney) returns from prison to make a name for himself in the crime world. He's soon discovered by the Dead End Kids, who idolise him, and childhood pal Father Jerry Connolly (Pat O'Brien), who has taken a different turn from Rocky and is struggling to bring the Kids around. While still friends with Rocky, the good Father tries to persuade him to steer clear of the gang of urchins. Rocky runs foul of the law, however, when he guns down his former partners Frazier (Humphrey Bogart) and Keefer (George Bancroft) after they betray him over a cut of crime-related profits. Seen as a whole, Angels with Dirty Faces may seem dated to many viewers, but its ending is still enough to bring chills. Director Michael Curtiz infused this gritty l938 effort with an amazing amount of energy and pacing; the Dead End Kids, in their screen debut, supply a fair amount of comic relief along with their dramatic roles. It's also worth noting that at the time, the notion of a criminal being a product of his environment was a controversial one. The swaggering bantam-rooster role played by Cagney, one of the screen's greats, helped define how he would be perceived (and parodied) for years to come. This movie easily stands along with The Roaring Twenties and Little Caesar as one of the most important, archetypal gangster films of the 1930s. --Jerry Renshaw, Amazon.com
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Top Customer Reviews
Brilliant - superb scenes, classic Cagney. The end sequence is eternal and unforgettable. The recent "Sleepers" tried a similar theme but didn't even come close.
Directed by Michael Curtiz
Childhood chums Rocky Sullivan (James Cagney) and Jerry Connelly (Pat O'Brien) grow up on opposite sides of the fence: Rocky matures into a prominent gangster, while Jerry becomes a priest, tending to the needs of his old tenement neighborhood. Rocky becomes a hero to a gang of teenaged boys (played by Dead End Kids Billy Halop, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell, Bobby Jordan and Bernard Punsley). Father Jerry despairs at this, asking Rocky leave them alone so he can keep the kids on the straight and narrow. Then Rocky's crooked business associates Mac Keefer (George Bancroft) and James Frazier (Humphrey Bogart) attempt to end Father Jerry's radio campaign against the rackets by killing the priest. Rocky whose cynical outlook on life has been softened by his romance with true-blue Laury Ferguson (Anne Sheridan) decides its time to challenge his associates and safe-guard Jerry.
Oscar Nominations for Best Actor (Cagney), Best Director (Michael Curtiz) & Best Writing
Humphrey Bogart meets The Dead End Kids again, after a similar tough-guy role opposed to the boys in "Dead End" (1937)
1. Michael Curtiz [aka: Manó Kertész Kaminer] [Director]
Date of Birth: 24 December 1886 - Budapest, Austria-Hungary (now Hungary)
Date of Death: 10 April 1962 - Hollywood, California
2.Read more ›
It marries two film genres, the gangster movie and the social comment picture, and does it pretty well, though at times a touch of sentimentality, mostly to do with the priest (Pat O'Brien) detracts from the tough gangster element; I believe that films about boyhood pals who take a different turning in life were popular in the Thirties.
The film falls into three sections which to my mind succeed in varyinbg degrees. The opening section dealing with Rocky's adolescence and early criminal career are solidly scripted and played, but I felt that the succeeding section as Rocky emerges from prison and attempts to reassert himself was a little limp in comparison. The scenes involving Humphry Bogart and his associates fail to rise above standard cops-and-robbers fare, and the Dead End Kids were probably much more to the taste of thirties than contemporary audiences; their scenes in their Fagin-like dugout and the gym drag somewhat.
But then the film suddenly moves into top gear in the final third; it becomes taut, gripping and brilliantly directed in the grand Film Noir tradition. The shoot-out is violent but balletic as Cagney swoops from room to room and roof to roof, an angel of death, and filmed in great contrasts of light and shade. The culminating famous final moments are powerful and touching, and devoid of sentimentality.
Curtiz handles the crowd scenes throughout with wonderful skill.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
great film and good to see you can buy these CLASSICS on DVD.Published 2 months ago by michael ellis
One of my favourite actors who for me could do no wrong. This is simply the best of Hollywood.Published 3 months ago by TeeBee
James Cagney is excellent as Rocky Sullivan. The scene at the end when his character goes to the electric chair was superb also did he die yellow a coward or was it fake?Published 3 months ago by Dean Moore
An absolute classic film. The packaging unfortunately is written in traditional Chinese script apart from that cannot find any fault.Published 4 months ago by Joe