series, "Little Caesar," "The Public Enemy" and "The
Petrified Forest," three films that made stars out of
Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart,
respectfully. Each actor provides a charismatic
performance as symbols of the Anti-American Dream.
Though these films are 70 years old, there is truth
that resonates as a modern day parable. Given his
behavior while on trial, one sees the self-destructive
arrogance of Robinson, Cagney and Bogart in manner of
In 1938, Cagney and Bogart teamed up for the first
time in "Angels with Dirty Faces," costarring Pat
O'Brien and the Dead End Kids. Cagney portrays Rocky
Sullivan, a career criminal who returns home to find
that he is the hero of the Dead End Kids, a gang of
under privileged teenagers. The local Priest
(O'Brien) encourages Rocky to go straight and suggests
that the gangster try to be a role model to the
teenagers. Rocky's criminal past comes back to haunt
him and the Priest wonders if he did the right thing
by asking Rocky to be a mentor to the Dead End kids.
Cornball? Unrealistic? Perhaps Stanley "Tookie"
Williams used Rocky Sullivan as his role model when he
formed the Crips gang in Los Angeles.