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The best gangster film ever made!
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.