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The Mayor of Hell Photos

Movie Info

Patsy Gargan (James Cagney) is a cog in the wheel of corrupt politics and so is awarded a cushy job as deputy commissioner of a local reform school for criminally inclined boys. He is initially apathetic toward his young charges, who are regularly beaten by the staff. But as he comes to know the boys and the hardships they've already faced, he warms to them. Inspired, he seeks to reform the school, putting in place new measures recommended by the goodhearted resident nurse (Madge Evans).

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Critic Reviews for The Mayor of Hell

All Critics (2) | Fresh (2)

Audience Reviews for The Mayor of Hell

  • Sep 11, 2017
    Don't let the overly sensationalized title put you off of this one, which is about a gang of young toughs all sentenced to a reform school, where they suffer mistreatment until James Cagney improbably shows up to run the show. Cagney befriends the nurse (Madge Evans), but clashes with the strict warden (Dudley Digges), who does not approve of their ideas to give the kids more freedom and the chance to govern themselves. Cagney has further trouble in that he's a gangster himself, trying to keep his 'racket' under control while he spends time at the school. Cagney has such charisma and his presence carries the movie, but there are also fine performances from Frankie Darro (the leader of the kids), Digges, and Arthur Byron (a thoughtful judge), among others (and including all those child actors). It's fun to hear all the 'tough talk' and slang from the 30's, and the scenes early on with the kids are enjoyable. The film's message, to paraphrase Cagney's character, is that you have to take a firm hand with kids or they'll walk all over you, but on the other hand, they're just kids, and behave better when shown a little love and respect. The action gets a little melodramatic as the film progresses, and the simplistic and somewhat horrifying ending isn't great, but all in all it's an entertaining film.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 19, 2011
    Dated. Worth seeing once. Cagney is excellent. The story is by turns compelling and silly.
    Morris N Super Reviewer
  • Nov 19, 2010
    An okay movie, but I've seen others just like it, so it wasn't all that interesting, and the beginning is really boring. The end is where it gets exciting.
    Aj V Super Reviewer
  • Jun 15, 2010
    The Mayor of Hell sounded like it was going to be a weak version of Angels With Dirty Faces but it was surprisingly more than what I'd initially expected. James Cagney plays a racketeer who starts taking a cushy in-title-only government job at a boys reform school seriously. The last half hour starts falling apart a bit once you discover the focus isn't quite where you thought it was but the final fifteen minutes redeem the flimsy third act quite a bit. Cagney plays Cagney and quite a few of the inmates, I mean students turn out some pretty good performances. If you can consider The Mayor of Hell one of the early Warner Bros. gangster movies, I'd say its one of the better ones...
    Michael G Super Reviewer

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