Each Dawn I Die Reviews
The teaming of James Cagney and George Raft proved to be an added attraction. James Cagney, who had been seen as a bad guy in most of his gangster oriented movies, plays a good guy here who ends up in jail for a crime he didn't commit.
Similar to "Fugitive from a Chain Gang", this is a 1930's Warner Brothers film with a conscience, taking aim at corrupt politicians and brutal prisons. The flaws in the film are not due to lack of effort or creativity, but simply because this is the way they used to make those types of films. James Cagney and George Raft use their talent and star appeal to draw you in and keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire movie. It isn't necessarily a film you'd go out of your way to see, but it's definitely worth watching if you get the opportunity.
This film marked the first for George Raft under the Warners' regime. Famous as a young song and dance man, Raft later became Paramount's answer to Cagney in their mobster film genre, but in the end, no one could compete with the Warner Bros. in that category. The film paired Cagney with his semi-rival and the two did well together on screen. Two song and dance actors in gritty gangster stereotype action makes for a great film. The story is well paced and keeps in stride, a well versed supporting ensemble to help.
Ironically, it was Raft who would later turn down 'High Sierra' and 'The Maltese Falcon', making way for another Cagney gangster co-star, Humphrey Bogart.