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TCM Greatest Gangster Films Collection: Prohibition Era [2 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • The Public Enemy:
  • Leonard Maltin hosts Warner Night at the Movies 1931 with newsreel
  • Comedy short the Eyes Have It
  • Cartoon Smile, Darn Ya, Smile
  • Theatrical trailers
  • Featurette Beer and Blood: Enemies of the Public
  • Commentary by historian Robert Sklar
  • 1954 rerelease foreword
  • The Roaring Twenties:
  • Leonard Maltin hosts Warner Night at the Movies 1939 with newsreel
  • Musical short All Girl Revue
  • Comedy short the Great Library Misery
  • Cartoon Thugs With Dirty Mugs
  • Featurette the Roaring Twenties: The World Moves On
  • Commentary by historian Lincoln Hurst
  • Little Caesar:
  • Leonard Maltin hosts Warner Night at the Movies 1930 with newsreel
  • Spencer Tracy drama short the Hard Guy
  • Cartoon Lady, Play Your Mandolin!
  • Featurette: Little Caesar: End of Rico, Beginning of the Antihero
  • Commentary by historian Richard B. Jewell
  • 1954 Rerelease foreword
  • Smart Money:
  • Warner Night at the Movies 1931 with newsreel
  • Musical shorts George Jessel and his Russian Art Shoir and the Smart-Up
  • Cartoon Big Man From the North
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Commentary by historians Alain Silver and James Ursini

Synopsis

The Hard Guy
The Smart Set-Up
Smile, Darn Ya, Smile!
This second entry in Warner Bros.' "Merrie Melodie" series stars Foxy and Roxy, who bear a remarkable resemblance to a pair of popular rodent characters then appearing in the Walt Disney cartoons. On this occasion, Foxy is a trolley-car conductor, enthusiastically singing the title song (later heard to even better effect in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit as he contends with fat hippo passengers, a recalcitant cow with a musical udder, a group of slightly effeminate hoboes, and a singing chicken in a stewpot. After picking up Roxy, Foxy embarks upon a wild ride indeed as his trolley careens out of control, leading to a mighty crash and a surprise ending. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Roaring Twenties
Based upon an idea by Broadway columnist Mark Hellinger, The Roaring Twenties opens during World War I as doughboys Eddie Bartlett (James Cagney), Lloyd Hart (Jeffrey Lynn), and George Hally (Humphrey Bogart) discuss what they will do when the war is over. Bartlett wants to go back to repairing cabs, and Hart yearns to be a lawyer, but it becomes clear that Hally has less reputable plans in mind for himself. Come the end of the war, things are not as easy for veterans like Bartlett as they should be. He is unable to get his old job back and ends up driving a cab for little money. One night he is asked to deliver a package (which turns out to be whiskey) to an address that turns out to be a speakeasy. This starts him on a life of crime, as he gets deeper involved as a bootlegger. Things are not made easy by a rival bootlegger -- who turns out to be Hally. The two join forces and prosper. Hart shares in their prosperity, as Bartlett engages him to take care of his legal matters. Unfortunately, Hart is also interested in Jean Sherman (Priscilla Lane), a young woman that Bartlett has had an eye on for quite some time. He loses her to Hart at about the same time that his criminal empire crumbles, and he is reduced to driving a cab again while Hally continues to prosper with his ruthless ways. Eventually, Hart -- now a crusading prosecutor -- runs afoul of Hally, who tells Jean that he will kill him if he doesn't change his ways. Jean begs Bartlett to intercede with Hally; because he still is carrying a torch for her, Bartlett agrees -- but by doing so, he may have signed his own death warrant. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi

Thugs with Dirty Mugs
Little Caesar
The Public Enemy
William Wellman's landmark gangster movie traces the rise and fall of prohibition-era mobster Tom Powers. We are first shown various episodes of Tom's childhood with the corrupting influences of the beer hall, pool parlor, and false friends like minor-league fence Putty Nose. As young adults, Tom (James Cagney) and his pal, Matt Doyle (Edward Woods), are hired by ruthless but innately decent bootlegger Paddy Ryan (Robert Emmett O'Connor). The boys quickly rise to the top of the heap, with all the accoutrements of success: custom-tailored tuxedoes, fancy cars, and gorgeous girls. All the while, Tom's loving (and somewhat addlepated) mother (Beryl Mercer) is kept in the dark, believing Tommy to be a good boy, a façade easily seen through by his older brother Mike (Donald Cook). Tommy's degeneration from brash kid to vicious lowlife is brought home in a famous scene in which he smashes a grapefruit in the face of his latest mistress (Mae Clarke). Some dated elements aside, The Public Enemy is as powerful as when it was first released, and it is far superior to the like-vintage Little Caesar. James Cagney is so dynamic in his first starring role that he practically bursts off the screen; he makes the audience pull for a character with no redeeming qualities. The film is blessed with a superior supporting cast: Joan Blondell is somewhat wasted as Matt's girl, Mamie; Jean Harlow is better served as Tom's main squeeze, Gwen (though some of her line readings are a bit awkward); and Murray Kinnell is slime personified as the deceitful Putty Nose, who "gets his" in unforgettable fashion. Despite a tacked-on opening disclaimer, most of the characters in The Public Enemy are based on actual people, a fact not lost on audiences of the period. Current prints are struck from the 1949 reissue, which was shortened from 92 to 83 minutes (among the deletions was the character of real-life hoodlum Bugs Moran). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Eyes Have It
All Girl Revue
Lady, Play Your Mandolin!
Smart Money
Edward G. Robinson and James Cagney were teamed for the only time in their careers in Smart Money. Robinson has the larger part as a small-town barber who fancies himself a big-time gambler. He travels to the Big City in the company of his younger brother Cagney, who wants to make sure that Robinson isn't fleeced by the high-rollers. Unfortunately Robinson has a weakness for beautiful blondes, most of whom take him for all his money or betray him in some other manner. The cops aren't keen on Robinson's gambling activities, but they can pin nothing on him until he accidentally kills Cagney in a fight. The incident results in a jail term for manslaughter, and a more sober-sided outlook on life for the formerly flamboyant Robinson. Watch closely in the first reel of Smart Money for an unbilled appearance by Boris Karloff as a dope pusher. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Great Library Misery
Big Man from the North
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