This is red hot off the front page. But beyond that it has nothing but a weak scenario [from a story by Gregory Rogers] along hackneyed lines.
Little Caesar, Scarface and Public Enemy were more than portrayals of gangster tactics: they were biographies of curious mentalities. In the new idea of glorifying the government gunners who wipe out the killers there is no chance for that kind of character development and build-up.
This time James Cagney is a government man, he’s in love with his chief’s sister and she’s thumbs down on him until the final clinch. And his chief rides him constantly, only to give in at the end.
Sprinkled through and around that is just about every situation from the Dillinger-Baby Face Nelson etcetera saga. The Kansas City depot massacre is paralleled, the Dillinger escape from a Chicago apartment, the Wisconsin resort roundup, the bank holdups throughout Kansas-Missouri, et al.
The acting throughout is A-1, and that helps consistently. Beyond Cagney and Robert Armstrong, both at their best, there is Ann Dvorak, a moll who tips off the cops to the final capture. Margaret Lindsay is Armstrong’s sister and Cagney’s gal. An easy assignment, and she romps off with it.
[A two-minute modern prologue, introducing the film, was added for a 1949 reissue.]