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Angels with Dirty Faces
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Angels with Dirty Faces

4.6 12
Director: Michael Curtiz

Cast: James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Humphrey Bogart


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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,


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 Punsly). Father Jerry despairs at this, asking Rocky to lay off so he can keep the kids on the straight and narrow. Then Rocky's crooked business associates George Bancroft and 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 Anne Sheridan) shoots them down and takes it on the lam. Arrested and convicted of murder, Rocky sits smugly on death row, fully intending to go to the chair with a smile on his face. A few moments before the execution, Father Jerry pleads with Rocky to "turn yellow" so that the tenement kids will despise his memory.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Just as MGM made the best musicals and Universal the best horror films, Warner Bros. turned out the finest gangster movies, virtually inventing the genre with 1930’s Little Caesar and creating its apotheosis in Angels with Dirty Faces. This masterful melodrama, employing rapid pacing, crackling dialogue, and violent action in the typical Warner manner, incorporates virtually all the mob-movie conventions then prevalent in Hollywood. Yet, thanks to the facile direction of stylistic chameleon Michael Curtiz (Casablanca), these conventions seem remarkably fresh and vibrant. James Cagney is in top form as the cocky hoodlum who returns to the old neighborhood and renews his friendship with boyhood chum Pat O’Brien, who’s now a no-nonsense priest trying to discourage a gang of lovable ruffians -- played by the Dead End Kids -- from embarking on lives of crime. Cagney eventually takes up with former classmate Ann Sheridan, who fails to dissuade him from working with vicious racketeer Humphrey Bogart -- a perilous partnership that can only end in death for one or both of them. Filmed entirely on the back lot and peopled with familiar '30s character actors, Angels is the quintessential gangster movie: a product of studio artifice bearing little resemblance to reality but jam-packed with the entertainment values that made Warner’s crime dramas irresistible to Depression-era audiences. Since Angels has a little of everything -- comedy, romance, suspense, and action, in addition to the charismatic presences of Cagney, Bogart, and O’Brien -- its appeal remains undiminished to this day.
All Movie Guide - Fred Beldin
Young viewers unfamiliar with 1930s era gangster melodramas might think that this classic is full of well-worn clichés, but Angels With Dirty Faces is the kind of film that brews up the bromides for others to dispense. Decades of homage, satire, and straight-up rip-offs have ensured generations of folks who have never seen a James Cagney film but always recognize an impersonation ("You dirty rat!"). Angels With Dirty Faces has aged well, still delivering plenty of excitement and hard-boiled action alongside its touches of hokum: the kindly priest of the ghetto parish, the cold killer with a soft spot for kids, and the long-suffering neighborhood girl who loves them both. The cast is packed with future icons at work. A pre-legend Humphrey Bogart plays against type as a conniving, cowardly lawyer, still three years away from The Maltese Falcon, and four years from his defining role in Casablanca (also helmed by Angels director Michael Curtiz). Pat O'Brien had made several films with Cagney prior to Angels in which he often served as his cast mate's foil, but this is the first time O'Brien played a priest, a persona he'd be associated with for years to come. The Dead End Kids didn't premiere with Angels, but they're still in their prime, too raw and tough here to be full-fledged comic relief; it would be a few years before their scrappy personas aged into buffoonery as the Bowery Boys. Then there's Cagney, at the height of his firebrand power, swaggering and sneering with charisma to burn. One never doubts that Cagney could survive a swarm of bullets in the climactic gunfight, as he wages a one-man war against both cops and crooks. Angels With Dirty Faces seems to acknowledge its star's glamour and the possibility of his gangster image celebrated and worshipped by impressionable youth. When Father Jerry asks Rocky Sullivan to feign cowardice as he walks to the electric chair, it's to prevent the naïve Dead End Kids from hailing him a martyr who spits at authority up to his last seconds on earth. Sullivan finally puts on the act, begging and pleading for life, and loses all credibility in the eyes of his onscreen admirers. Despite the film studio's intention of "social commentary," however, the audience in the theater watching Angels may feel this final cop-out makes the character even more appealing. After all, Rocky Sullivan shows great fortitude by "turning yellow" in the face of death; it was something he loathed to do, but chose because of his affection for the Kids and his friendship with O'Brien. Who wouldn't want to be that cool?

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
Region Code:
[Full Frame]

Special Features

Closed Caption; Leonard Maltin hosts Warner Night at the Movies 1938 with newsreel, musical short Out Where the Stars Begin, cartoon Porky and Daffy and theatrical trailers; New featurette Angels With Dirty Faces: Whaddya Hear? Whaddya Say?; Commentary by film historian Dana Polan; Audio-only bonus: radio production with film's 2 stars; Languages: English & Français; Subtitles: English, Français & Español

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
James Cagney Rocky Sullivan
Pat O'Brien Rev. Jerry Connolly
Humphrey Bogart James Frazier
Ann Sheridan Laury Ferguson
George Bancroft Mac Keefer
Billy Halop Soapy
Bobby Jordan Swing
Leo Gorcey Bim
Gabriel Dell Pasty
Huntz Hall Crab
Bernard Punsly Hunky
Edward Pawley Guard Edwards
Adrian Morris Blackie
Frankie Burke Rocky (as a boy)
Marilyn Knowlden Laury as a Girl
Sidney Bracey Actor
Eddie Brian Newsboy
Sonny Bupp Actor
Brian Burke Convict
Joe Cunningham Managing Editor
Dead End Kids Actor
John Dilson Chronicle Editor
Joseph Downing Steve
Earl Gunn Actor
Frank S. Hagney Actor
John Harron Sharpies
Dutch Hendrian Actor
Ben Hendricks Guard
Dan Jesse Actor
Donald Kerr Actor
Al Lloyd Actor
Alexander Lockwood Actor
Vince Lombardi Actor
Charles Marsh Actor
John Marston Well Dressed Man
Billy McClain Janitor
Roger McGee Actor
Carlyle Moore Reporter
Jack Mower Detective
Ted Offenbecker Older Boy in Poolroom
Emory Parnell Actor
Lee Phelps Actor
Jeffrey Sayre Actor
Jack C. Smith Railroad Guard
George Sorel Headwaiter
James Spottswood Record Editor
A.W. Sweatt Boy
George Taylor Actor
William Tracy Jerry as a Boy
Dick Wessel Actor
Lotta Williams Woman
Dan Wolheim Actor
Jack Goodrich Reporter (uncredited)
Claude Wisberg Hanger-On
Galan Galt Policemen at Call-Box
William Crowell Whimpering Convict
Harris Berger Basketball Captain
Lane Chandler Guard
Frank Coghlan Boy in Poolroom
Joe Devlin Gangster
David Durand Boy in Poolroom
Earl Dwire Priest
William Edmunds Italian Storekeeper
James Farley Railroad Yard Watchman
Mary Gordon Mrs. Patrick McGee
John Hamilton Police Captain
Harry Hayden Pharmacist
Thomas E. Jackson Press City Editor
Vera Lewis Soapy's Mother
Wilfred Lucas Police officer
Wilbur Mack Croupier
Belle Mitchell Mrs. Maggione
Pat O'Malley Railroad guard
Oscar O'Shea Guard Kennedy
William Pawley Bugs the Gunman
Jack Perrin Death Row Guard
Theodore Rand Gunman
Dick Rich Gangster
Ralph Sanford City Editor, Press
Chuck Stubbs Red
Charles Sullivan Gunman
Elliott Sullivan Police Officer
Charles Trowbridge Norton J. White, Press Editor
Poppy Wilde Girl at gaming table
Charles Wilson Buckley, the Police Chief
William Worthington Warden
Steven Darrell Gangster
Al Hill Actor
Robert E. Homans Policeman
George Offerman Adult boy

Technical Credits
Michael Curtiz Director
Sam Bischoff Producer
Everett A. Brown Sound/Sound Designer
Rowland Brown Screenwriter
Warren B. Duff Screenwriter
Leo F. Forbstein Musical Direction/Supervision
Robert M. Haas Art Director
Owen Marks Editor
Orry-Kelly Costumes/Costume Designer
Sol Polito Cinematographer
Sherry Shourds Asst. Director
Max Steiner Score Composer
Perc Westmore Makeup
John Wexley Screenwriter

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Credits [:58]
2. Young Hoodlums [4:05]
3. Life of Crime [3:27]
4. Father Jerry [5:53]
5. That Little Fresh Kid [2:24]
6. Agreement With Frazier [4:24]
7. Rolled for His Poke [5:42]
8. Beans to Basketball [4:04]
9. New Referee [6:02]
10. Drugstore Trap [4:55]
11. He's Sore [3:04]
12. Stashing the Dough [5:36]
13. Guys Who Talk [5:08]
14. Money Talks [5:54]
15. A Job for Laury [3:07]
16. Reverend's Request [5:02]
17. Other Lives [5:40]
18. Gunfight at El Toro [5:04]
19. Hostage Standoff [5:02]
20. One Last Favor [5:27]
21. Walk to the Chair [2:28]
22. Dying Yellow [2:52]
23. Cast List [:46]


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Angels with Dirty Faces 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great movie from all angles. Pat O'Briens final words...and the music swelling...preceded by the shadow of rocky struggling..you want goosebumps to finish off a great movie? Here they are!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
simply a great classic,if you like gangster movies this is it!IF ANYONE WHO CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IS OUT THERE PLEASE GIVE US A DVD.WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?
Guest More than 1 year ago
Please make this available on DVD. I absolutely LOVE this movie. All Cagney movies were good, but this one is the best. One of the best classics out there. A must watch!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my alltime favorite movie, but I wont buy it until it comes out on DVD (I already have a copy taped off TV).
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just as in 'The Roaring Twenties,' Cagney takes out Bogey with a couple of shots. The question always remains: Did Rocky Sullivan (Cagney) really turn yellow on his way to the chair to help the kids destroy his memory or did he REALLY turn yellow? I understand they filmed the ending for this twice. The way we remember it and also without him turning yellow. They obviously kept the previous always keeping us to ponder that question. I still haven't a clue. In any case, they don't make them like this anymore. It's a shame. LETS GET IT ON CD!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really thought that B&W sucked until i saw this movie! This movie is really exciting, and although there is so much drama and suspence there's still a lot of comic relief.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Yeah really. This is one of my favorite movies of all time. Its a classic. Why no DVD? If the distributor or studio or whoever makes these decisions is around... come on already. We've been waiting for years!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago