A movie filled with cult scenes that are part of Movie History : the grapefruit dame, James Cagney as the Son of the Mummy in the last scene, Mike Powers's legs in the last shot to name a few ones. I also love the opening sequence, Joan Blondell and Jean Harlow, the death of both the Horse and the Pianist. Masterpiece.
The vignettes of Powers as a kid underscore the whole film. Tom really never grows up, he's always a child who is a product of his environment just trying to keep up. Consider him recieving his first gun for Xmas, or how he's sexually intimidated by Harlow (who's made up to look a bit scary). Most of all consider how the rival gangsters are never seen, just going to show how lost little Tommy really is. Must see.
Let me be my own oracle. Every fit of anger and every crime is directed at himself. Wellman punctures the family life with the failed discipline of a child and in the opening the public rushes to work later the public rushes for booze its full expression is in its retelling the story of Tom is inconsequential he is the enemy his life informs you and as long as we know how the story will end he's along for the ride.
Cagney coming into his own in the role that catapulted him to stardom. It is among the finest examples of the classic gangster film and is still a joy to watch to this day. A classic of the 1930s that lives up to its reputation.
See beyond the typical acting of the time and see that this is a highlight of the early Hollywood sound period. Technically it's very inventive in it's use of sound as the final scenes will show you. Studio era gold.
A rather slow moving film tbh. Cagney's performance earns it another star. Check out White Heat for better Cagney, and a better gangster picture, or the original Scarface for that matter. With that said, this is miles ahead of Little Caesar.