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Angels With Dirty Faces (1938)
Childhood chums Rocky Sullivan (James Cagney) and Jerry Connelly (Pat O'Brien) grow up on opposite sides of the fence: Rocky matures into a prominent gangster, while Jerry becomes a priest, tending to the needs of his old tenement neighborhood. Rocky becomes a hero to a gang of teenaged boys (played by Dead End Kids Billy Halop, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell, Bobby Jordan and Bernard Punsley). Father Jerry despairs at this, asking Rocky to lay off so he can keep the kids on the straight and narrow. Then Rocky's crooked business associates George Bancroft and Humphrey Bogart attempt to end Father Jerry's radio campaign against the rackets by killing the priest. Rocky (whose cynical outlook on life has been softened by his romance with true-blue Anne Sheridan) shoots them down and takes it on the lam. Arrested and convicted of murder, Rocky sits smugly on death row, fully intending to go to the chair with a smile on his face. A few moments before the execution, Father Jerry pleads with Rocky to "turn yellow" so that the tenement kids will despise his memory.

Little Caesar (1930)
Caesar Enrico "Rico" Bandello (Edward G. Robinson, made up to look a lot like the real-life Al Capone) and his friend Joe Massara (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) are robbing a gas station when the story begins -- later on, at a diner, they're looking over a newspaper and see a story about Diamond Pete Montana (Ralph Ince), a gangster so well known that he gets headlines and stories written about how powerful he is. That's what Rico wants, more than money or anything else: to be czar of the underworld and "not just another mug." Joe admits that sometimes he just thinks of trying to become what he wanted to be when he started out: a professional dancer. They head east to Chicago (which is never named, but with the talk of the north side and the territories, you know what city it is) and Rico talks his way into the local mob run by Sam Vettori (Stanley Fields). With his resourcefulness at planning and pulling jobs that are tough and risky, and getting away with them; Rico begins to rise to the top, but will his ego and bloodlust ultimately be his undoing?

Petrified Forest (1936)
Leslie Howard plays a perfect gentleman--a lonely intellectual in search of meaning. When he lands in a deserted café, he finds what he's looking for in the form of young Bette Davis, whose character yearns for the artistic climate of gay Paris. But both Howard and Davis are in for a bumpy ride when dangerous gangster played by Bogart takes over, holding up the joint at gunpoint. The small group of hostages take turns telling their tales, fearing death, while Bogie plots to reunite with his gang and his girl.

Public Enemy (1931)
William Wellman's landmark gangster movie traces the rise and fall of prohibition-era mobster Tom Powers. We are first shown various episodes of Tom's childhood with the corrupting influences of the beer hall, pool parlor, and false friends like minor-league fence Putty Nose. As young adults, Tom (James Cagney) and his pal, Matt Doyle (Edward Woods), are hired by ruthless but innately decent bootlegger Paddy Ryan (Robert Emmett O'Connor). The boys quickly rise to the top of the heap, with all the accoutrements of success: custom-tailored tuxedoes, fancy cars, and gorgeous girls. All the while, Tom's loving (and somewhat addlepated) mother (Beryl Mercer) is kept in the dark, believing Tommy to be a good boy, a façade easily seen through by his older brother Mike (Donald Cook). Tommy's degeneration from brash kid to vicious lowlife is brought home in a famous scene in which he smashes a grapefruit in the face of his latest mistress (Mae Clarke).

Roaring Twenties (1939)
The Roaring Twenties opens during World War I as doughboys Eddie Bartlett (James Cagney), Lloyd Hart (Jeffrey Lynn), and George Hally (Humphrey Bogart) discuss what they will do when the war is over. Bartlett wants to go back to repairing cabs, and Hart yearns to be a lawyer, but it becomes clear that Hally has less reputable plans in mind for himself. Come the end of the war, things are not as easy for veterans like Bartlett as they should be. He is unable to get his old job back and ends up driving a cab for little money. One night he is asked to deliver a package (which turns out to be whiskey) to an address that turns out to be a speakeasy. This starts him on a life of crime, as he gets deeper involved as a bootlegger. Things are not made easy by a rival bootlegger -- who turns out to be Hally. The two join forces and prosper. Hart shares in their prosperity, as Bartlett engages him to take care of his legal matters. Unfortunately, Hart is also interested in Jean Sherman (Priscilla Lane), a young woman that Bartlett has had an eye on for quite some time. He loses her to Hart at about the same time that his criminal empire crumbles, and he is reduced to driving a cab again while Hally continues to prosper with his ruthless ways. Eventually, Hart -- now a crusading prosecutor -- runs afoul of Hally, who tells Jean that he will kill him if he doesn't change his ways. Jean begs Bartlett to intercede with Hally; because he still is carrying a torch for her, Bartlett agrees -- but by doing so, he may have signed his own death warrant.

White Heat (1949)
As a psychotic thug devoted to his hard-boiled ma, James Cagney - older, scarier and just as elctrifying - gives a performance to match his work in The Public Enemy as White Heat's cold-blooded Cody Jarrett. Bracingly directed by Raoul Walsh, this fast-paced thriller tracing Jarrett's violent life in and out of jail is also a harrowing character study. Jarrett is a psychological time bomb ruled by impulse. It is among the most vivid screen performances of Cagney's career, and the excitement it generates will put you on top of the world!

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WA36315 Warner Gangsters DVD Box Set (The Public Enemy / White Heat / Angels with Dirty Faces / Little Caesar / The Petrified Forest / The Roaring Twenties) $69.92 $59.99