Warner Bros. ends the Golden Age of the gangster movie on one hell of a high note in The Roaring Twenties, one of my all-time favorite movies, starring James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart.
The Roaring Twenties is a docudrama of sorts, combining newsreel-style footage, narrated by John Deering, with the events of the film. The narrative tells the story of the rise and inevitable fall of Eddie Bartlett (James Cagney). Bartlett is introduced to us as just a regular American soldier fighting in France during World War I, who just wants to return to work at his old garage, eventually saving up money to buy a business of his own. However, at the war's end, things don't go as well for him as he hoped. His old job's been filled, and his former boss doesn't have anything for him, despite promising he would - and he's not able to find any other work. To add insult to injury, the attractive young lady who wrote to him during the war, Jean Sherman (Priscilla Lane), turns out to be a very young lady - a high schooler - who sent him a picture of her in heavy makeup from a play she was in. Bartlett's roommate, Danny Green (Frank McHugh), offers to let him use his cab during his off-hours in the meantime, which seems to work okay at first.