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September 7, 2023

Vintage Photos of Ann Sheridan During the Filming of ‘Angels with Dirty Faces’ (1938)

Angels with Dirty Faces is a 1938 American crime drama film directed by Michael Curtiz for Warner Brothers. It stars James Cagney, Pat O’Brien, The Dead End Kids, Humphrey Bogart, Ann Sheridan, and George Bancroft. The screenplay was written by John Wexley and Warren Duff based on the story by Rowland Brown. The film chronicles the relationship of the notorious gangster William “Rocky” Sullivan with his childhood friend and now priest Father Jerry Connolly. After spending fifteen years in prison for armed robbery, Rocky intends to collect $100,000 from his co-conspirator Jim Frazier, a mob lawyer. All the while, Father Connolly tries to prevent a group of youths from falling under Rocky’s influence.

Brown wrote the scenario in August 1937. After pitching the film to a number of studios, he made a deal with Grand National Pictures, who wanted Cagney to star in the lead role. However, the film never came to fruition, owing to Grand National’s financial troubles that led to their bankruptcy in 1939. Cagney then returned to Warner the same year, taking Brown’s script with him. Warner acquired the story and asked a number of directors to take on the project, eventually settling with Curtiz. Principal photography began in June 1938 at Warner’s Burbank studios, and finished a week behind schedule in August, due mostly to the time it took to shoot Rocky’s standoff with the police and eventual execution.

Angels with Dirty Faces was released on November 28, 1938, to positive reviews. At the 11th Academy Awards, the film was nominated in three categories: Best Actor (Cagney), Best Director (Curtiz), and Best Story (Brown).

Angels with Dirty Faces is considered by some to be one of the best films of all time, and is widely regarded as a defining moment in Cagney’s career. It was shortlisted by the American Film Institute in 2008, and was voted 67th in a list of the “100 Best Film Noirs of All Time” by Slant Magazine in 2015.

These vintage photos captured portraits of Ann Sheridan during the filming of Angels with Dirty Faces in 1938.


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