Bullets or Ballots (1936)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Bullets or Ballots Videos

Bullets or Ballots Photos

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.
Action & Adventure , Classics , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:


Edward G. Robinson
as Johnny Blake
Joan Blondell
as Lee Morgan
Barton MacLane
as Al Kruger
Humphrey Bogart
as 'Bugs' Fenner
Frank McHugh
as Herman
Joe King
as Capt. Dan McLaren
Dick Purcell
as Ed Driscoll
Louise Beavers
as Nellie LaFleur
Joseph Crehan
as Grand Jury Spokesman
Henry O'Neill
as Bryant
Gilbert Emery
as Thorndyke
Henry Kolker
as Hollister
Rosalind Marquis
as Specialty
Frank Faylen
as Gatley
Frank Bruno
as Proprietor
Alice Lyndon
as Old Lady
Victoria Vinton
as Ticket Seller
Al Hill
as Man
Addison Richards
as Announcer
Milt Kibbee
as Jury foreman
Raymond Brown
as Proprietor
Eddie Shubert
as Truck driver
Max Wagner
as Actor Impersonating Kruger
Milton Kibbee
as Jury Foreman
Jack Goodrich
as Cigar Clerk
Alma Lloyd
as Beauty Attendant #1
Carlyle Moore Jr.
as Kruger's secretary
Anne Nagel
as Bank secretary
Joseph King
as Captain Dan McLaren
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Bullets or Ballots

All Critics (1)

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | September 10, 2008
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

An agreeable action-packed gangster flick.

Full Review… | July 18, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

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


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


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

Discussion Forum

Discuss Bullets or Ballots on our Movie forum!

News & Features