You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Politicos award gangster Patsy Gargan a cushy job as a honcho at a woefully run boys reform school. No experience necessary. No expectations. No problems.
But firebrand Patsy (James Cagney) runs up against plenty of problems in this impassioned Depression-era mix of social conscience filmmaking and the gangster genre. He sees something in the kids -- himself. He, too, was raised in the slums. And he decides to defy everyone to give the kids opportunities he never had. Yet all the good Patsy does could collapse when he missteps into his life of crime. This punchy tale was retold in films featuring the Dead End Kids: Crime School (with Humphrey Bogart) and Hell's Kitchen.
Jim "Sock" Conway-- former fighter, former fed. Now benched by the political hacks infesting the DA's office, Sock's racket-busting days are seemingly behind him. But when the mob's muscle leans a little too hard on some neighbor pals of his, it's time for the Assistant DA to don the gloves of a Special Prosecutor and give the rackets the licking they deserve. But Sock's return to racket-busting soon puts his girl and her flighty debutante sister in danger. Inspired by the exploits of real-life New York DA Thomas Dewey, Chester Morris leads the cast in this tight, no-nonsense crime thriller ably directed by maven Lew Landers. Supporting stars Rita Johnson and Frances Mercer shine especially bright as the two imperiled siblings.
"He was the most hated man on earth. But he could have been one of the great men in history. He was a genius." So begins the post-mortem recollections of the cast of characters that had the misfortune of crossing paths with Clementi Sabourin, a cad of such monumental proportions that only George Sanders could play him. Clementi's story plays out in a series of flashbacks, as his life story is relayed by those who knew him to the police, who are investigating his murder. Yvonne DeCarlo, Zsa Zsa Gabor (the ex-Mrs. Sanders), Nancy Gates and Coleen Gray play the eye-catching "Four beautiful reasons behind...the Death of a Scoundrel" promised by the film's poster while Sanders' sibling Tom Conway appears as Clementi's brother. Contributions from the equally celebrated James Wong Howe (cinematographer) and Max Steiner (composer) add luster to the film's pulp noir pursuit of the truth of a great man, greatly dedicated to only himself.
Look out, Jake Luva. That sinuous moll cuddling up to you on the dance floor isn't the floozy she seems. She's Bonnie Jordan, ex-society girl and current undercover reporter, investigating a murder that has your fingerprints all over it. She has what it takes, all right -- to take you and your crime empire down.
As Bonnie and Jake, Joan Crawford and Clark Gable exude plenty of pre-Code sensuality in their first screen teaming. Gable is fifth-billed, but the moment he and Crawford go into a clinch, there is no question who in the film could match her star power. Crawford and Gable went on to make seven more films together. And each smoldered with the red-hot chemistry originally sparked in Dance, Fools, Dance.
Based on a true story. One man, Isaac, leaves his old, seedy, gangster-filled lifestyle to start over with his family. After he relocates to Los Angeles, it isn't long before the world of crime that he tried to escape finds him. Threatened by a dangerously temperamental gangster, his criminal cousin and a drug lord, Issac finds getting a fresh start almost impossible. As those close to him fall victim to the promises of quick money by the way of the gun, violence surrounds him until he has no choice but to confront it. He'll do whatever it takes to keep those close to him safe, even if it means going back to his old ways.
Academy Award winner Bette Davis stars as the bride of a pharmacist counterfeiting drugs who almost dies when she unknowingly receives an injection of one of his phony prescriptions in The Big Shakedown. Druggist Jimmy Morell's (Charles Farrell) business is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy when racketeer Dutch Barnes (Ricardo Cortez) offers a proposal for Morell to concoct and sell copies of brand name drugs. But when Morell's pregnant bride, Norma (Davis), loses their baby and almost dies after receiving one of his ineffective drugs, Morell becomes almost insane with rage. He wants out of the deal--and he wants Barnes dead. He's too late, though, to kill Barnes: By the time Morell finds him, Barnes is already dead. Still, Barnes gets a measure of revenge as well as rid of the evidence against him by rolling Morell's body into a vat of chemicals that completely dissolve the cadaver.
After years of unemployment, John Phillips (Humphrey Bogart) finally lands a job. He's on top of the world, until he runs into James O'Malley (Pat O'Brien), a by-the-book cop so rigid he calls his loving ma a litterer for feeding the birds. O'Malley cites Phillips for a busted muffler, although he knows it will lose the man his job. Soon the desperate Phillips loses his freedom as well when he robs a pawnshop and lands in the slammer. But when O'Malley meets Phillips' crippled daughter, he begins to realize he should temper justice with mercy. A new man, O'Malley falls for Barbara's lovely teacher (Ann Sheridan) while he strives to undo the wrong he's done to the moppet's dad.