James Cagney, one of Hollywood’s greatest “tough guys”, plays opposite of Pat O’Brien in this classic gangster film about two former friends who had chosen different paths when growing adult.
Also starring the legendary Humphrey Bogart (who was selected by the AFI in 1999 for being US cinema’s greatest male star) and glamorous Ann Sheridan at the beginning of their careers.
The film is directed by Hungarian born director Michael Curtiz who won in 1942 an Academy Award as Best Director for the classic “Casablanca” (starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman).
Warner Bros. produced a number of other significant gangster films during the Thirties that have distinct themselves from the usual escapist entertainment of that period: Little Cesar (starring Edward G. Robinson, 1930), The Public Enemy (with James Cagney, 1931), Scarface (with Paul Muni, 1932), I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang (with Paul Muni, 1932), The Petrified Forest (with Humphrey Bogart, 1936) and The Roaring Twenties (with Cagney and Bogart, 1939). Ten years later, James Cagney returned one more time to the portrayal of a gangster for Warner Bros. in the classic film noir “White Heat” (1949).
Angels With Dirty Faces received three Academy Award nominations for Best Director (Curtiz), Best Writing Original Story (Rowland Brown) and Best Actor in a Leading Role (Cagney).
James Cagney was strongly admired as one of the greatest actors of all time by many famous film professionals, among them Orson Welles, Marlon Brando, Stanley Kubrick, Clint Eastwood and Malcolm McDowell. Three times nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor, he received it once for “Yankee Doodle Dandy” in 1942. He also received the American Film Institute’s Life Achievement Award in 1974, and was ranked #8 among the “50 Greatest American Screen Legends” in 1999. In the same year, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp honoring him. Actor Charlton Heston called him “…one of the most significant figures of a generation when American film was dominant, Cagney, that most American of actors, somehow communicated eloquently to audiences all over the world …and to actors as well.”