The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, September 14-20


The Roaring Twenties (1939)
Directed by Raoul Walsh
Along with Little Caesar (1931) and The Public Enemy (1931), The Roaring Twenties belongs in the holy trinity of archetypal gangster films made in Classic Hollywood it’s the best of the bunch, with is propulsive, no-nonsense direction by Raoul Walsh, who makes ample use of pans and push-ins for his first feature for Warner Bros. Like those earlier movies, Roaring Twenties has a “rise and fall structure,” anchored around one Eddie Bartlett (James Cagney), a WWI vet returning home, back in New York City, jobless. In the Prohibition Era, he becomes a bootlegger working his way up in the hooch business. Where Cagney plays a guy who becomes a criminal because of social pressures, Humphrey Bogart (still a supporting player, in a period when his world-weary persona hadn’t solidified yet) is a stone-cold killer. They’re doubles. Where Cagney has a conscious, Bogie has a black hole. Tanner Tafelski (September 15, 1:30pm at MoMA’s Bogart matinees)


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