The Doorway to Hell + Picture Snatcher
Brash, charismatic tough-guy James Cagney made his name in these gritty, fast-paced, realistic Warner Bros. Depression-era gangster melodramas.
There was never a better match between studio and contract artist than Warner Bros. and brash James Cagney in the so-called Pre-Code era of 1930s Hollywood, when gritty, often salacious, Depression-themed stories were ‘torn from today’s headlines’. Actor/dancer Cagney arrived at the studio from vaudeville and the Broadway stage, stealing scenes in The Doorway to Hell, as second banana to Lew Ayres’ lead gangster.
Cagney’s energy and magnetism took him rapidly to the top of the cast list in pugnacious tough-guy roles such as his turn here as a gangster-turned-newspaper photographer, simply exchanging his handgun for a camera. The Library of Congress in Washington has preserved both this film and Doorway from original camera negatives.
Enjoy a world of benefits with BFI Cinema Membership.
Follow the BFI London Film Festival live blog.