Angels with Dirty Faces

1938 film by Michael Curtiz

Angels with Dirty Faces is a 1938 film about a priest who tries to stop a gangster from corrupting a group of street kids.

James Cagney as Rocky Sullivan and Pat O'Brien as Father Jerry
Directed by Michael Curtiz. Written by Rowland Brown, John Wexley, Warren Duff, Ben Hecht (uncredited), and Charles MacArthur (uncredited).
The saga of America's dirty faced kids... And the breaks that life won't give them! (taglines)

Father Jerry Connolly

  • This very afternoon, I was approached with a sugarcoated proposition...a bribe offered me by this corrupt officialdom. $100,000 for the building and equipment of a recreation center in my parish if I would agree to refrain from further attacks...if I would sabotage this campaign...if I would shut my eyes, stop my ears and hold my tongue. But the building of an isolated playground to shield my boys from crime is not rooting out the crime itself. We must wipe out those we have ignorantly elected and those who control and manipulate this diseased officialdom behind locked doors. We must rid ourselves of the criminal parasites that feed on us. We must wipe out those we have ignorantly elected and those who manipulate this diseased officialdom behind locked doors.

Rocky Sullivan

  • 'Morning, gentlemen. Nice day for a murder.
  • No! I don't want to die! Oh, please! I don't want to die! Oh, please! Don't make me burn in hell. Oh, please let go of me! Please don't kill me! Oh, don't kill me, please!


  • [reading from the newspaper] "At the fatal stroke of eleven p.m. Rocky was led through the little green door of death. No sooner had he entered the death chamber, than he tore himself from the guard's grasp, flung himself on the floor, screaming for mercy. And as they dragged him to the electric chair, he clawed wildly at the floor with agonised shrieks. In contrast to his former heroics, Rocky Sullivan died a coward".

Mac Keefer

  • [to Jim Frazier]I don't care how you handle Sullivan. But with that priest, it's got to look an accident.


Soapy: Hey! Call a fair game or I'll slap you right in the kisser!
Rocky Sullivan: You'll slap me? You slap me in a dream, you better wake up and apologize.

Rocky Sullivan: Laury Martin? That little fresh kid with the pigtails? Well, hello. Whadda ya hear! Whadda ya say!
Laury Martin: Hello.
[she slaps him]
Rocky Sullivan: Hey! Wait a minute!
Laury Martin: I've waited fifteen years to do that!

Rocky Sullivan: Say, you turned out to be a pretty snappy-looking dish.
Laury Martin: Thanks.
Rocky Sullivan: For a sociable worker.
Laury Martin: Thanks again.
Rocky Sullivan: I can't figure out why some smart guy hasn't grabbed you off.
Laury Martin: Some smart guy who's always in the headlines, huh?
Rocky Sullivan: You could do worse.

Mac Keefer: Where's Frazier?
Rocky Sullivan: Where's that hundred grand?
Mac Keefer: You think we're gonna pay off huh?
Rocky Sullivan: Certainly. If I don't get that dough in three minutes, Frazier's gonna be splashed all over the best hideout in town.

Rocky Sullivan: [about his proposed anonymous donation] Suppose the dough is hot? Nobody knows that but you and me.
Father Jerry: That's just it.
Rocky Sullivan: Oh, come on, don't be such an angel. You wanna get the center built, don't you? Well, go ahead - get it started.
Father Jerry: Sure I wanna get it started; but I don't wanna get it started on rotten foundations.
Rocky Sullivan: Aw, don't be a sucker!
Father Jerry: All right, Rocky, supposin' I take the money... and I kid myself that it's a means to an end - well it isn't. It never will be. Inside the center my boys would be clean... and outside they'd be surrounded by the same rotten corruption and crime and criminals. Yes, yourself included. Criminals on all sides for my boys to look up to and revere... and respect and admire and imitate. What earthly good is it for me to teach that honesty is the best policy when all around they see that dishonesty is a better policy? That the hoodlum and the gangster is looked up to with the same respect as the successful businessman or the popular hero? You and the Fraziers and the Keefers and all the rest of those rotten politicians you've got in the palm of your hand. Yes, and you've got my boys, too. Whatever I teach them, you... you show me up. You show them the easiest way - the quickest way is with a racket or a gun.
Rocky Sullivan: Well, it's so, ain't it?
Father Jerry: Yes, it's so... God help us.

Laury Martin: Why are you hounding Rocky? Why are you trying to send him to prison for life? You can't do that to Rocky. I won't let you. It's not his fault, Father. He was just a kid who made a mistake and got sent to reform school. They made a criminal out of him. But he's not bad, not really bad. You know that. And whatever they've done to him, no matter what he is now, no matter whether he's right or wrong, we both love him Father.
Father Jerry: Yes, Laury we both love him. I've loved him since we were kids, six years old. We worked together, fought together, stole together. Oh, I'm not blaming Rocky for what he is today. But for the grace of God, there walk I. I'd do anything for him, Laury. Anything in the world to help him. I'd give my life if I thought it would do any good, but it wouldn't. You see Laury, there's all those other kids, hundreds of them, in the streets and bad environment, whom I don't want to see grow up like Rocky did. I can't sacrifice them for Rocky. You see, Laury, they have lives too. I can't throw them away. I can't.

James Frazier: Listen, Rocky. I'm pulling every string I can. I'm seeing the all right people. And I think I can get you off with about three years.
Rocky Sullivan: You talk like I can do that three years in a handstand. It's a long time. That ain't no picnic. You'll be outside having it soft right on those cushions.
James Frazier: I know it's a tough break, Rocky. But I'm not gonna mark time. I'm gonna scout around, make connections. Not only for me, but for both of us. You understand?
Rocky Sullivan: Why should I take the fall?
James Frazier: There's no other way out. Now, be sensible. If they get me too, I'll not only be disbarred, but they'll check on my vault box and grab that hundred grand. You don't want to lose that dough, do you?
Rocky Sullivan: Alright, Frazier. It's my rap and I'll take it. But it's my hundred grand and I'll take that too, the day that I get out.

Father Jerry: We haven't got a lot of time. And I want to ask you one last favor.
Rocky Sullivan: There's not a lot left that I can do, kid.
Father Jerry: Yes, there is, Rocky. Perhaps more than you could do under any other circumstances. If you have the courage for it, and I know you have.
Rocky Sullivan: You mean, walking in there? That's not gonna take much.
Father Jerry: I know that, Rocky.
Rocky Sullivan: It's like a barber chair. And when they ask me "you got anything to say?". I'll say, "sure, give me a haircut, a shave, and a massage, with one of those nice new electric massages".
Father Jerry: Are you afraid?
Rocky Sullivan: You know Jerry, I think in order to be afraid, you've got to have a heart. I don't think I got one. I got it cut out of me a long time ago.
Father Jerry: Suppose I asked you to have the heart, huh? To be scared.
Rocky Sullivan: What do you mean?
Father Jerry: Suppose the guards dragged you out of here screaming for mercy. Suppose you went to the chair yellow.
Rocky Sullivan: Yellow? Say, what's the matter with you Jerry?
Father Jerry: This is a different kind of courage, Rocky. The kind that's well, that's born in heaven. Well, not the courage of heroics or bravado. The kind that you and I and God know about.
Rocky Sullivan: I don't know what you mean.
Father Jerry: Look, Rocky, just before I came up here, the boys saw me off on the train. Soapy and several of the others. You can well imagine what they told me. "Father, tell Rocky to show the world what he's made of. Tell him not to be afraid and to go out laughing."
Rocky Sullivan: Well, what do you want? I'm not gonna let them down.
Father Jerry: I want you to let them down. You see, you've been a hero to these kids, and hundreds of others, all through your life - and now you're gonna be a glorified hero in death, and I want to prevent that, Rocky. They've got to despise your memory. They've got to be ashamed of you.
Rocky Sullivan: You asking me to pull an act, turn yellow, so those kids will think I'm no good. You're asking me to throw away the only thing I got left that they can't take away. To give those newspapers a chance to say, "Another rat turned yellow."
Father Jerry: You and I will know you're not.
Rocky Sullivan: You ask a nice little favor, Jerry. Asking me to crawl on my belly the last thing I do.
Father Jerry: I know what I'm asking. The reason I'm asking is because being kids together gave me the idea that you might like to join hands with me and save some of those other boys from ending up here.
Rocky Sullivan: You're asking too much. You wanna help those kids, figure out some other way.
Father Jerry: It's impossible to do it without your help. I can't reach all of those boys. Thousands of hero-worshiping kids all over the country.
Rocky Sullivan: Don't give me that humanity stuff again. I had enough in the courtroom. Told everything. Named names. Told the whole mess. What more do you want?
Father Jerry: What I've always wanted, Rocky. Straighten yourself out with God. Outside of that, I can't ask for anything else.

Gang member: Did Rocky die as they said, like a yellow rat?
Father Jerry: It's true, boys. Every word of it. He died like they said. All right, fellas. Let's go and say a prayer for a boy who couldn't run as fast as I could.


  • The saga of America's dirty faced kids... And the breaks that life won't give them!
  • Sensational Human Drama... Terrific Thrills And Suspense!
  • A Big Time Cast in a Big City Drama Destined to be the Biggest Hit in Years!


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