“You want the Brooklyn Bridge, all you gotta do is ask for it. If I can’t buy it, I’ll steal it!”
A kind speakeasy owner (Gladys George) helps three WWI veterans — a car mechanic (Jimmy Cagney), a saloon owner (Humphrey Bogart), and an aspiring lawyer (Jeffrey Lynn) — earn a living through bootlegging during Prohibition; but their partnership deteriorates when Lynn goes legit and marries Cagney’s love interest (Priscilla Lane), and Bogart decides to branch out on his own.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Depression Era
- Humphrey Bogart Films
- Jimmy Cagney Films
- Love Triangle
- Priscilla Lane Films
- Prohibition Era
- Raoul Walsh Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary writes that “like most Warner [Brothers] films”, this nostalgic gangster flick — which views bootleggers as “modern crusaders who deal in bottles rather than battles” — “has a social conscience” and “pretty much blames forgotten man Cagney’s criminality on an insensitive country” that won’t hire back its veterans. He notes that while it’s “not on the level of Little Caesar and Scarface, this is one of the liveliest, most enjoyable gangster films”, given that “Raoul Walsh’s direction is fast-paced and tough, yet sentimental”, there are “many solid action scenes”, and “Cagney gives a vivid performance” —
— especially during his famous “gem” of a “death scene”, in which “he tries to run up the steps of a church, but his momentum takes him downward instead”. I’m essentially in agreement with Peary’s review: this is a fine gangster flick, despite being a bit too “slanted” in its whitewashed “sense of history”. Gladys George (best known for her supporting role in The Maltese Falcon) is noteworthy as the likable dame Cagney is too dense to fall for, and it’s fun to see Cagney and Bogart together (they co-starred in three films — this, Angels With Dirty Faces, and The Oklahoma Kid).
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Jimmy Cagney as Eddie
- Gladys George as Panama
- Ernest Haller’s cinematography
Yes, as an enjoyable gangster flick.