#114 Angels with Dirty Faces (1938)

James Cagney returns in one of his most iconic roles of his career. It may have been another gangster role but this was a role with morality and humanity. Angels with Dirty Faces is when a priest tries to help an old friend of his, a gangster, not corrupt the minds of a bunch of street kids who look up to him.

I love that scene! ↑ Nothing like sweet revenge against an old bully of yours:) James Cagney plays Rocky who grew up in the slums of New York as a criminal with his best friend Jerry who is also a criminal. Jerry ended up becoming a priest whereas Rocky kept going in and out of prison as a gangster. A bunch of street kids, played by The Dead End Kids, look up to Rocky and find his activities as cool. When Rocky goes rock bottom, what will the kids think of him then? It was interesting to see a film where two childhood friends end up on opposite sides of the law to show that some are capable of growing up and others are just doing what they know well. If Jerry got caught when he was a kid like Rocky did, do you think Jerry would have ended up like Rocky?

This is the first of three films where we see James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart together. Both of these actors were known for playing gangsters in the 30s so it was nice to see these well-known actors in an antagonistic relationship. Bogart plays Rocky’s corrupt lawyer who owes him $100,000- a deal that was made if Rocky went down for his crime. Cagney and Pat O’Brien have been in six movies together with this one being their third. I liked seeing O’Brien play the girl of Rocky’s childhood who is no-nonsense to Rocky’s nonsense. The Dead End Kids made their debut in the play Dead End and would be in six films together and another 48 films as the Bowery Boys from 1946-1958.

Spoiler Alert!!!!! ↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓↓

Because the Production Code was in place, they were forced to tell Jack Warner of Warner Brothers that some serious censorship needed to take place with rules such as the police were not allowed to die, no strip poker suggestions, and because Rocky was a kidnapper, a criminal, and a murderer, he was not allowed any sympathy. That is where the Dead End Kids come in for the purpose of making the character of Rocky sympathetic. Do you believe that Rocky went “yellow” in the end to listen to Jerry to avoid The Dead End Kids from looking up to him or was Rocky really not as tough as he made himself out to be? It was so heartbreaking to hear him beg and sounded so real. I like that this ending was up to interpretation considering it was rare back then for films to be ambiguous. This movie is definitely worth looking into as one of the best classic crime films.

Watch one of James Cagney’s best performances and let me know what you think:


#113 The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)

Errol Flynn is back in yet another swashbuckling role. This role is what defined his Hollywood career as Robin Hood. The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) is when the brother of the king plans to overthrow the throne in his absence, Robin Hood and his army plan to stop him as well as capture the heart of Lady Marian.

Prince John steals the throne from his brother, King Richard, and nobleman Robin Hood decides to stop him by recruiting an army to steal from the rich to give to the poor. What do you think about that? Do you find doing that right or wrong? This technicolor film involves the dashing, heroic Errol Flynn shooting many arrows, swooning the ladies, and very handy with a sword. We would see many plots like this in the future for films like Star Wars where the lower class outsiders would go against the powerful

Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland (who is 101!) still have the best chemistry with each other. Considering this is their third film together, they better! Just like in Captain Blood, this would be another romance that starts in two people who misunderstand each other to eventually falling into each other’s arms. It’s hard to believe that James Cagney was about to take on the roll. I don’t think I can picture him with an arrow instead of a gun:) This film had a $2 million budget which was the most expensive Warner Brothers film at the time. The Adventures of Robin Hood brought back swashbuckling from the silent film era and helped become one of the best action-adventure films. It won the Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Best Art Direction, and Best Original Score but lost Best Picture to You Can’t Take it With You. There would be many film adaptations and film series to follow of Robin Hood. Love romance, sword play, good vs. evil, and action/adventure? Here’s the film for you!

Here is a copy of the Errol Flynn classic and please comment what you think:

#112 Jezebel (1938)

Introducing the first Bette Davis feature film on our list and the first big movie for the actress herself! William Wyler’s Jezebel is about a 19th century Southern woman who ruins it with the man she loves and stops at nothing to win him back.

So picture this film as the original black and white version of Gone with the Wind. Bette Davis plays powerhouse woman Julie in love with her boyfriend but ruins it all when she decides to wear a red dress to an elegant ball instead of white like all of the other women. People of today might see this as overdramatic to break up with someone over the disapproval of a dress but see it as a feminist move on her part. She doesn’t want to conform like everyone else at the ball and be resorted to wearing the safe color of white. Red is still considered to be very sexy. Then again, she should have known that he would be PO’d about that. Other than this film taking place in the antebellum South, what this film also has in common with Gone with the Wind is seeing the female lead go to desperate lengths after someone that she can never have.

While there was a lot of drama that took place in the film such as feuds, jealousy, and an epidemic to top it all off, there was plenty of drama off-set too. For example, Bette Davis and director William Wyler had a steamy affair. Bette Davis was still married at the time to Harmon Nelson even though her marriage to him was shattering. She was even pregnant with Wyler’s baby at the end of shooting before she got an abortion. When shooting was over, so was their affair. Davis would always call Wyler the greatest love that she had. It broke her heart when he moved on with Margaret Tallichet. I guess it looks like Davis knew how it felt to be with someone she couldn’t have as well. Have you ever been in that situation before? This film gave Bette Davis her second Academy Award for Best Actress and the film also won Best Supporting Actress for Fay Bainter. A good melodrama to see and important to see for those who are a fan of Gone with the Wind.

Unfortunately, I could not find the film online but here is a trailer and feel free to comment on what you see: