Director: Michael Curtiz
Year Released: 1938
I cannot get enough of James Cagney, to be honest - a lot (most) of his movies are little goldmines for me as a filmgoer, and he is consistently compelling as a performer: little but tough, intimidating, cruel, interesting, the kind of guy you want to be friends with, secretly, even though he's never up to any good and that you will most likely suffer the consequences of his wild antisocial behavior. Here, he and a school pal go in opposite directions - Cagney goes to jail, his friend becomes a priest. They clash when the priest tries to reform 'The Dead End Kids,' only to have Cagney work against him and encourage the crazy youths to lead reckless lives. Forceful and intriguing, it builds to a fitting conclusion, where Cagney, in his last act on Earth, not only redeems himself but saves the lives of those he deliberately misguided.