Bullets or Ballots

1936

Bullets or Ballots (1936)

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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

Two-fisted New York police detective Edward G. Robinson is so volatile that he manages to get himself thrown off the force in disgrace. The local gangsters are delighted, in that Robinson had been breathing down their necks. When Robinson goes to crime boss Barton MacLaine insisting that he's through with law enforcement and wants to switch to the other side, MacLaine's chief henchmen Humphrey Bogart doesn't buy the story, but has to go along since he doesn't want to incur the wrath of MacLaine. Robinson offers to show his former enemies how to circumvent the law, making him an invaluable participant in gang activities. Actually, Robinson hasn't gone crooked at all; he's operating undercover, with the full knowledge of the city police inspector, in hopes of locating the "big boys" who've been financing the mob. His diligence costs him his life, but Robinson, with the help of bad-girl-gone-good Joan Blondell, busts the rackets wide open. Former crime reporter Martin Mooney was responsible for the story upon which Bullets or Ballots was based.

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Critic Reviews for Bullets or Ballots

All Critics (2)

Police vs gangsters saga has unusually prominent roles for black actors.

Nov 21, 2017 | Full Review…

An agreeable action-packed gangster flick.

Jul 19, 2006 | Rating: B | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Bullets or Ballots

It's nothing extraordinary but Edward G. is great as usual on the right side of the law this time. It's nice to see Louise Beavers getting to play something besides a maid. She's all dolled up as a flashy numbers runner.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

½

This isn't the average gangster movie, but that doesn't mean it's a great movie either. It has good actors, but it could have been a lot better.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

½

Bullets or Ballots is a lost little gem with Edward G. Robinson as an undercover veteran cop trying to take down racketeers from the inside. Robinson turns out another miniature badass role and foil to Humphrey Bogart's "don't want to be here" turn on Murderer's Row. The almost unrecognizable Joan Blondell really fills out any dress she's in and the direction's pretty decent. While its good, you can see why Bullets or Ballots isn't one of the better known gangster pictures. Still, a treat for fans of Edward G.

Michael Gildea
Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

½

some gangster cinephiles might bombard this movie for being effeminated by moral code. besides the ending is one of those moralistic preachings you have heard quite enough from old school. the best fun is to observe robinson as the good guy and humprey bogart as the calculated ferocious hoodlum. in spite of its surrender to the censor, it's still a ballistic underrated movie with fast rhyme and classic confrontation of hero and villain. ironically, more than 10 years later....in key largo, robinson plays smelly rat-like mobster johnny rocco slaughtered by the postwar melacholic hero bogart. what a rise and fall. in a nutshell, "bullets or ballots" is easy to chew, suitable for some hectic friday afternoon when you just wanna lay on couch falling asleep without probing too harshly. it would be a choice to immerse yourself in some distinctive section of absolute good and evil then relaxed.

Veronique Kwak
Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer

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