Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)

“You know, Jerry, I think to be afraid, you gotta have a heart. I don’t think I got one. I had that cut out of me a long time ago. ” – Rocky

Number of Times Seen – 1 (19 Jun 2018)

Brief Synopsis – A gangster released from prison becomes an influence for a group of troubled teens. His best friend who is now a Priest tries to help him be a good influence on the boys, but his natural tendencies take control.

My Take on it – I have only recently been exposed to films starring james Cagney and I can now see why he was perceived by so many to be such an extraordinary actor.

This film lets him show his talent because the character has so much range both emotionally and physically in all that he does.

They manage to develop the character quite well and he doesn’t seem like the typical or stereotypical gangster shown in many movies because of the depth that we get to see.

The story itself works quite well and manages to be both poignant and devious all at the same time along the way.

The chemistry between Cagney and O’Brien have great chemistry together as life long friends with different outlooks on life.

Cagney was deserving of being nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor this year, but even with his great performance here, he wasn’t able to outdo Spencer Tracy’s portrayal of Father Flanagan in Boys Town (1938)

Bottom Line – Cagney does a great job of showing how talented an actor he can be with this role.  The character is developed quite well and doesn’t seem like a typical or stereotypical gangster role because of the depth of the character. The story waivers back and forth because it has both poignant and devious scenes all wrapped into one. Cagney and O’Brien have great chemistry as lifelong friends that have chosen very diverse paths in life.  Cagney definitely deserved his Best Actor Nomination a the Oscars that year but no one was gonna be able to beat Tracy as father Flanagan.

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – The Dead End Kids terrorized the set during shooting. They threw other actors off with their ad-libbing, and once cornered co-star Humphrey Bogart and stole his trousers. They didn’t figure on James Cagney’s street-bred toughness, however. The first time Leo Gorcey pulled an ad-lib on Cagney, the star stiff-armed the young actor right above the nose. From then on the gang behaved. (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy (8/10)


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3 thoughts on “Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)

  1. I didn’t even know about this film, but it sounds good, especially since I haven’t had much exposure to Cagney either. This is probably what was being referenced in Home Alone, with that gangster movie called Angels with Filthy Souls. Ha!


  2. Pingback: Movies Reviewed Index A-Z |

  3. Pingback: Did They Get it Right? – Best Director – Oscars 1938 |

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