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Angels With Dirty Faces

Mel Blanc , James Cagney , Bobby Connolly , Michael Curtiz    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Angels With Dirty Faces + TCM Greatest Gangster Film Collection: Prohibition Era (Little Caesar / Smart Money / The Public Enemy / The Roaring Twenties)
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Product Details

Product Description


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 idolize him, and childhood pal Father Jerry Connolly (Pat O'Brien). The good Father has taken a different turn from Rocky and is struggling to bring the Kids around; while still friends with Rocky, he tries to persuade him to steer clear of the gang of urchins. Rocky runs afoul 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 1938 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 '30s. --Jerry Renshaw

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
By Nix Pix
A couple of Hell's Kitchen hell raisers - Rocky Sullivan (James Cagney) and Jerry Connolly (Pat O'Brien) part company after being sent to reform school in Michael Curtiz's classic "Angels With Dirty Faces" (1938). For Rocky, the years of meditation transform him into a first class criminal with a bitter grudge and destiny to fulfill. For Jerry, the prospect of becoming a career criminal is enough to scare him straight into the priesthood.
The years pass and Rocky and Jerry are once more reunited; this time in their old neighborhood but on opposite sides of the law. In a sort of Father Flannigan twist, Jerry desires to have a positive impact on the lives of children who, like his former self, are on the fast track to nowhere. Rocky resurfaces as a ghetto gangster, exploiting Jerry's acquired goodness to suit his own end. Ann Sheridan surfaces thrillingly and to great effect as Rocky's wickedly playful girl Friday, Laury Ferguson.
The Dead End Kids, a troop of street urchins who became model citizens through celluloid worship and pop culture are in this one to - playing themselves for either saintly salvation or sinful self-destruction. Rapid and gunfire results. Director, Curtiz is in top form with this meshing of the light and the terrorized, inserting a winning combination of action and comedy that is engaging throughout.
Warner's DVD is not as successful. The gray scale is often dark or seemingly underexposed. Though it is, at times, nicely balanced, the image quality is rather inconsistent. Film grain and age related artifacts are spread throughout the print material which shows signs of various source materials being incorporated. Fine details are often lost in darker scenes. Whites are generally not clean, though at times they can be.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Angels: Their Dirt Washes Off July 5 2002
Format:VHS Tape
ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES is no by the numbers gangster melodrama of the 1930s. It is a penetrating insight into a number of well-known character types. Director Michael Curtiz portrays a bulls-eye of distinct personalities with Rocky Sullivan centered on ground zero. James Cagney, who plays Sullivan with the bravura performance of a long and distinguished career, absolutely dominates each scene with his tongue and flashing arms. Sullivan is a recently released convict from Brooklyn who returns to the scene of his youth and finds that the local youth gangs have elevated him to heroic stature. He takes this adulation in stride; he has business to take care of. He plans to regain money taken from him by a former cohort in crime (Humphrey Bogart), or failing that, to kill him. Yet, despite his criminal life, there is much good within him. At one time early in life, the merest of chances pushed him down the wrong path of a one way street while allowing another (Pat O'Brien) to take the right one. His life after that was predictable: reform school, the criminal life, back to jail, a hard-nosed attitude about life. Now he walks the streets, attempting to have it all, money, a good-looking dame (sweetly played by Ann Sheridan), and the respect of his peers, even if those peers are the Dead End Kids. These kids form the first outer circle around Rocky. They are both literally and emotionally around him. In Sullivan's interactions with them, he is squarely centered, tossing out bills as if they were candy bars, smacking them on the head with his fedora hat, exhorting them with words to upgrade their lives. And they, of course, tough as they are, lionize him, protecting him and his property from the common enemy--the cops--, and setting in motion the wheels to wind up just like him. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great except for one thing June 19 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Overall a great movie except for one major complaint that I had, although I realize I'm in the minority view here. The ending is just silly. There is no way Rocky would have gone out the way he did, pretending to be a coward--he would have died as he had lived--with courage and composure--however he might agree with Father Connolly about how he had lived his life.
A better ending would have been for the father to have visited Rocky earlier. When Father Connolly arrives, he only has ten minutes to talk to Rocky before his execution. Had he arrived earlier, he could then have persuaded Rocky to write a letter to the "dead-end kids" gang who looked up to him that although he intended to die bravely, as he had lived--his life as a gangster was ultimately a failure and that he wanted the kids to know that and not make the same mistakes he did. They could even have published the letter in the paper, where it would have had equally dramatic an effect as the newspaper reports of Rocky's feigned cowardice during the electrocution scene.
Had they done the ending like this, Rocky would still have redeemed himself in the end, it would have made far more sense, and I think it would have made for a much better ending.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A THIRTIES SMASH HIT. March 30 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Two childhood friends grow up to go their different ways. Here we witness one Rocky Sullivan, a noted criminal, who comes back to his old neighbourhood and finds that he's the idol of the gutter-bred youngsters there...It's a good title and a better picture; it moves swiftly with ever increasing tension; Michael Curtiz directed splendidly: this movie moves fast, is both imaginitive and humourous and the entire cast gives performances which are uniformly polished. While Jimmy Cagney was filming BOY MEETS GIRL, scenerists John Wexley and Warren Duff were preparing this gem. Cagney returned to the Gangster arena with this one, and he delighted everyone as hard-headed Rocky Sullivan. To watch Cagney in this role is sheer bliss, because he conveys his feelings by doing everything physically in his playing: i.e. - for instance, his discomfort in church is evident - he shrugs his shoulders in a vain attempt to free himself from his starched collar, etc. Director Curtiz was nominated for an AA for both this and FOUR DAUGHTERS (done the same year); neither won. The cast here is top-notch; the production was outstanding, Max Steiner's musical score is terrific and the last few minutes of this film is unforgettable movie making at its very best - what the viewer experiences here is genuinely timeless!
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Belle photographie de Sol Polito. Les ambiances lumineuses correspondent au récit du film.
Published 1 month ago by MICHEL CARON
5.0 out of 5 stars "Morning, gentlemen. Nice day for a Murder"... James Cagney
Warner Bros. Pictures presents "ANGEL WITH DIRTY FACES" (1938) (95 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Starring James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Humphrey Bogart, Ann... Read more
Published on Feb. 16 2011 by J. Lovins
5.0 out of 5 stars don't see this for Bogie
Humphrey Bogart's part is minor. ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES is a Cagney movie. Sure, it does seem dated. Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Best Gangster Movies Ever Made
What do you get when you mix James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Pat O'Brien and the Dead End Kids?
Just about the best gangster movie ever made! Read more
Published on June 15 2003 by Hardyboys.us
5.0 out of 5 stars "Whaddya hear? Whaddya say?"
"Angels with Dirty Faces" is one of the greatest gangster pictures of the 1930's, a decade which saw many great ones. Read more
Published on March 3 2002 by "weirdo_87"
5.0 out of 5 stars One of James Cagney's best gangster movies
James Cagney is at his best in this movie, He is unequaled as a gangster, and his portrayal of Rocky Sullivan is so believable. Read more
Published on Jan. 3 2002 by Phyllis D.
5.0 out of 5 stars Check your shoulder
During the era of Mob bosses and religious resurrection, two young boys pounce through the packed street's and lines of steaming railroad cars in the big city. Read more
Published on Sept. 19 2001 by Adam Hunnicutt
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the genre - great performances
James Cagney outdoes himself in this film, managing to make a hardened criminal so appealing that the viewer finds himself thinking "he isn't really bad," despite... Read more
Published on Aug. 15 2001 by Elizabeth G. Melillo
5.0 out of 5 stars Cagney's Greatest!
Not only do I consider this to be Jimmy Cagney's greatest flick, but perhaps the greatest gangster movie of all time. Read more
Published on June 20 2001 by Ken Roberts
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