The Roaring Twenties

Director: Raoul Walsh
Year Released: 1939
Rating: 3.0

James Cagney returns from serving his country to no job and no prospects, so he starts driving a taxi but tires of the life and wants some real money, so he starts a lucrative bootlegging project. The problem posed is quite real: if you could engage in an illegal profession that makes people happy (booze is bliss!) and doesn't hurt anyone and there's a minimal effort of being caught (you just have to pay off the cops), would you? Of course, in this (moralistic) case, things spiral out of control to involve murder and backstabbing - it is, after all, a Jimmy Cagney movie. The script is a little choppy and Priscilla Lane is given one too many songs to sing, but the charismatic presence of both Cagney and Humphrey Bogart (in a slimy side role) is just too irresistible. If you swap out the alcohol and replace it with marijuana, you might have a similar story that applies to today (and there are a lot of people making a lot of money on weed). I say legalize it and tax it, damn it to hell.