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The Roaring Twenties

“He used to be a big shot."

James Cagney was getting tired of making gangster films for Warner Bros. by the time he starred in Raoul Walsh’s 1939 film “The Roaring Twenties.” After all, he really loved comedy and the song-and-dance too. But he clearly was great as a gangster. Look at him in “The Public Enemy” or “White Heat.” He carried a dark energy that really came across in those films as well as this one. Join us — Pete Wright and Andy Nelson — as we continue our series on films from 1939 with Walsh’s “The Roaring Twenties.” We talk about our general impressions of this film, one which we both watched for the first time, and how it was enjoyable but fairly middle-of-the-road. We chat about the talent involved on screen — Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Gladys George, Priscilla Lane, Frank McHugh, Jeffrey Lynn, and Paul Kelly, to name a few — and how we felt about each of them. We get into the gangster genre and what really made these gangster films from the 30s work, comparing this one with “Little Caesar” and more to figure out if this one is better or worse than some of those that are considered more classic. And we talk about how well this film and its news reel-esque approach to the decade really give us a great perspective on what was going on then and how it created this environment for criminal behavior. It’s a good film, maybe not something we’d rewatch day in and day out but one worth watching at least once, and we have a great time talking about it on this week’s show. Tune in!

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