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Angels With Dirty Faces Blu-ray Review

You can’t go wrong with a James Cagney gangster movie.

In 1938’s “Angels With Dirty Faces,” the story begins by introducing the 2 central characters (Rocky and Jerry) as kids. The 2 are troublemakers, but Rocky has, well, a rocky life as he is busted by the police and sent to reform school. As an adult, he is a notorious gangster who becomes jailed. After being released from prison, Rocky meets Jerry again who has become a Priest. The two couldn’t be any more different now as Rocky continues down a criminal path. He’s even trying to corrupt a group of local street kids much to the dismay of Jerry. Jerry even goes as far as trying to stop criminal activities and corruption (including those by Rocky). Elsewhere in the story is a plot about Rocky trying to get the 100 grand he believes he is owed while a shady lawyer (James Frazier) wants it for himself. 

Directed by the always versatile Michael Curtiz, “Angels With Dirty Faces” is a compelling gangster movie about morals, corruption, innocence, and friendship. It’s also the tale of 2 friends who become rivals with one character on each end of the spectrum of good and evil. Rocky, however, isn’t without sympathy as the character demonstrates how a single event can shape the course of one’s life and how Jerry and he could have easily switched places had it not been for that event. It’s rather tragic in that regard. 

When it comes to gangster movies, James Cagney really is the King of the genre. He conveys a wide range of emotions while also showcasing such ferocity in violent sequences. I have to give a huge shoutout to Frankie Burke who plays Rocky as a kid. The young actor’s impersonation of Cagney is spot on. I honestly wanted to see more of him in the movie! Pat O’Brien shines as the heartfelt Jerry while Humphrey Bogart is memorable in a small role as James Frazier. The Dead End Kids contribute a lot to the movie as the street kids who are enticed by a life of crime. They have such a camaraderie together. They also tend to slap each other quite a bit. Seriously, does this movie hold the record for face slaps or what? 


Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? Another stunning transfer from Warner Archive. They continue to knock it out of the park again with these restorations.

Audio Track:  2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? Expect a nice clean track.

* Theatrical trailers for “Angels WIth Dirty Faces” and “Boy Meets Girl.”
* 1939 radio drama adaptation.
* Commentary by Dana Polan.
* A musical short titled “Out Where The Stars Begin”
* A Leonard Maltin intro
* A newsreel.
* “Porky and Daffy” cartoon.
* “Angels With Dirty Faces: Whaddya Hear? Whaddya Say?”- A featurette on ‘Angels’ and gangster movies.

December 9, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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