Raoul Walsh's The Roaring Twenties (1939) is exemplary melodrama grafted onto the crime thriller. It stars James Cagney as Eddie Bartlett a jobless war veteran whose rags to riches story is sullied by his spurious association with George Hally (Humphrey Bogart). Eddie starts out as a cab driver but winds up in charge of his own fleet. Of course none of this is possible without the financial backing of George; whose bootlegging empire uses Eddie's cab company as his own private delivery service.
Lloyd Hart's (Jeffrey Lynn) aspirations of going legit' by practicing law go slightly awry as he takes on Eddie as a partner. As the years roll on, all flows like vintage champagne until love and rivalry over the sultry Jean Hart (Priscilla Lane) interferes. Lloyd marries Jean and turns against his old friends. Gladys George is in it too, as Eddie’s good time gal, Panama Smith.
Warner Home Video’s DVD transfer is particularly pleasing. Though there are several instances where second generation print material has been substituted for original camera negatives, the gray scale overall is nicely balanced with rich and deep blacks and generally clean whites. Some age related artifacts and film grain are present throughout, particularly in the stock footage - but nothing will distract you from this fond farewell to the gangster era.
Extras include a newly produced featurette. Film historian Lincoln Hurst does a good job of summing up the film, while Leonard Maltin delights with his summation of 1939 with "Warner Night at the Movies." Highly recommended!
FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)