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'.
The Roaring Twenties
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Jerry Wald, Richard Macaulay, Robert Rossen|