The Roaring Twenties

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Marvellously mixing semi-documentary aspects with traditional genre motifs, Walsh's archetypal gangster thriller follows the fates of three WWI doughboys who return to an America plagued with unemployment: while Lynn goes straight, Cagney's the good guy reluctantly drawn into bootlegging and killing by a ruthless Bogart, and forever pining for good girl Lane while ignoring the attentions of George's tart-with-a-heart. Most impressive for its frantic pace and its suggestion that in times of Depression almost everyone is corruptible, it's also a perverse elegy to a decade of upheaval: that sense of sadness and waste is perfectly encapsulated by George's final line, laconically pronounced over Cagney's corpse, 'He used to be a big shot'.

Release details

Duration: 106 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Raoul Walsh
Screenwriter: Jerry Wald, Richard Macaulay, Robert Rossen
Cast: James Cagney
Priscilla Lane
Humphrey Bogart
Gladys George
Jeffrey Lynn
Frank McHugh
Paul Kelly
Joe Sawyer
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