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The Roaring Twenties VHS

VHS video


4.8 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Priscilla Lane, Gladys George, Jeffrey Lynn
  • Directors: Raoul Walsh
  • Writers: Earl Baldwin, Frank Donoghue, Jerry Wald, John Wexley, Mark Hellinger
  • Format: Black & White, Original recording reissued, NTSC
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Turner Home Ent
  • VHS Release Date: July 5, 2000
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews
  • ASIN: 0790743361
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,774 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
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Editorial Reviews

Three doughboys--played by James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, and Jeffrey Lynn--meet in a foxhole in Europe just as World War I is ending. When they return to the States, they are forgotten men, and after Eddie (Cagney) tries in vain to get his old job back, his pal Danny (Frank McHugh) lets him drive his cab at night. A fare asks unwitting Eddie to deliver bootleg liquor, but Prohibition is in full swing and Eddie is arrested and thrown in the slammer. Gallant Eddie won't rat out the woman to whom he delivered the hooch, speakeasy owner Panama Smith, (whiskey-voiced Gladys George). She bails him out and carries a torch for him for the rest of the movie, but he only has eyes for sweet little Jean (Priscilla Lane). Panama introduces Eddie to a life of crime, staking him in the bootleg business. Eddie's grit and bluster suit him perfectly for this existence, and he's soon a success, so he hires Army buddy Lloyd (Lynn) as consigliere, then teams up with George (Bogart), a liquor smuggler who plays a much dirtier game. Racketeering and murder are his methods, and he drags Eddie down with him. When Prohibition ends and the stock market crashes, Eddie loses everything and takes to the bottle himself.

The film is a bit schematic. The three stars are archetypes: Cagney the good boy gone bad, Bogart the bad boy who stays bad, and Lynn the good boy who stays good. Still, it packs quite an emotional wallop--Cagney shows extraordinary range, going from green boy to swaggering gangster to broken man, and Bogart has rarely seemed more purely evil than he does here. He kills for the sheer pleasure of it; it's truly frightening to see. The final scene is a stunning shootout between Cagney and Bogart. With lesser actors this film could be pure hokum. With Cagney and Bogart, it attains catharsis. --Laura Mirsky

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