The Mayor Of Hell

  • 1933
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Crime, Prison

Feisty, sassy Cagney flits about in this social-comment film like a banty rooster. He's a smart-talking gangster with friends in high political places who get him appointed as a "deputy inspector" to the state reform school. Upon arrival, he sees how the youngsters are mistreated by sadistic warden Digges and some of his brutal guards. Evans, the nurse...read more

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Feisty, sassy Cagney flits about in this social-comment film like a banty rooster. He's a smart-talking gangster with friends in high political places who get him appointed as a "deputy inspector" to the state reform school. Upon arrival, he sees how the youngsters are mistreated by

sadistic warden Digges and some of his brutal guards. Evans, the nurse on duty, complains of the inhuman treatment to Cagney and asks him to change things. Touched by the plight of Darro and others, and in love with Evans, Cagney reforms, and gets Digges kicked out, replacing him. He works with

the boys and allows them to establish a system of self-government and an honor code. Conditions improve as does the morale of the youthful inmates. But Cagney's experiment ceases when he hears that a rival gang is making inroads into his rackets. He returns to the city and kills a rival mobster,

then goes into hiding. The boys feel deserted and betrayed by Cagney when the cruel Digges returns to persecute them. When Cagney hears of the harsh treatment again put in place at the reformatory, he risks all, returns, and runs Digges and his henchmen out once and for all, setting matters

straight and winning Evans' hand. Countering Cagney's cocky magnanimity is Digges' chilling portrait of evil. The role of the nurse was originally intended for Joan Blondell, then Glenda Farrell, but both actresses had other commitments, and the role went to Evans, who is rather anemic as a

whining crusader. Darro is solid as one of the oppressed inmates and Mayo's direction has a kick to it. This film (remade as CRIME SCHOOL in 1938, starring Humphrey Bogart) was one of the many films Cagney made in the early 1930s, produced on a schedule that was nonstop in the Warner Bros. grind

mill. Said Cagney later: "MAYOR OF HELL was the old mixture. I was kept pretty busy; we worked until three or four in the morning. I'd look over and there'd be the director, Archie Mayo, sitting with his head thrown back, sawing away. He was tired, we were all tired. This kind of pressure the

studio put on us because the studio wanted to get the thing done as cheaply as possible."

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Feisty, sassy Cagney flits about in this social-comment film like a banty rooster. He's a smart-talking gangster with friends in high political places who get him appointed as a "deputy inspector" to the state reform school. Upon arrival, he sees how the y… (more)

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