The best of the Cagney gangster pictures. He's anything but one-note here as the tragic and sympathetic Eddie Bartlett. It's a fascinating tale that weaves snappy, almost Scorsese-esque true-crime vignettes with classic melodrama, surprising cynicism and black-humor.
One of the greatest gangster films ever made and a case can be made for this being Cagney's finest moment. Cagney was outstanding in other films as well - Angels With Dirty Faces and White Heat come to mind. But this movie might be as good or better than either of those, which elevates Cagney's vital role even more. Just an American classic.
Walsh made other classics, but none better than this little gangster gem. Cagney's best role (although Yankee Doodle is up there, showcasing the other side of this brilliant man), and he and Bogie go together like PB&J. Gladys George also has her best role here, and the montages with narration seem to predict Dragnet-esque cop shows (but here the narration enhances instead of detracts). 39 really was Hollywoods year.
Incredible hard-nosed, elegiac, bildungsroman - cynical and sad and earnest and tough. Cagney and Bogart bring it! No one had the energy of Cagney. Nice, beautifully used tracking shots, crane shots. Interestingly seemed to use a Newsreel like effect 2 years before Welles in Kane. Albeit to different ends.
The best Cagney movie, Raoul Walsh's best picture, one of the best American films of the 30s (I'd put it right after Leroy's I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang). The pacing and dialogue are flawless and it perfectly balances humor, suspense and pathos. It's also one of the few films where the narration enhances the story as opposed to muddling it. If you like gangster epics; then this is your movie.