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The Mayor of Hell (1933)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Romance | 24 June 1933 (USA)
Five members of a teen-age gang, including leader Jimmy Smith, are sent to the state reformatory, presided over by the melodramatically callous Thompson. Soon, Patsy Gargan, a former ... See full summary »


Archie Mayo, Michael Curtiz (uncredited)


Edward Chodorov (screen play), Islin Auster (based on a story by)



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Cast overview, first billed only:
James Cagney ... Patsy
Madge Evans ... Dorothy
Arthur Byron ... Judge Gilbert
Allen Jenkins ... Mike
Dudley Digges ... Thompson
Frankie Darro ... Jimmy
Sheila Terry ... Blonde with Mike
Robert Barrat ... Fred Smith
Allen 'Farina' Hoskins ... Smoke (as Farina)
Harold Huber ... Joe
Dorothy Peterson ... Mrs. Smith
G. Pat Collins ... Brandon (as George Pat Collins)
Edwin Maxwell ... Louis Johnson
John Marston John Marston ... Hopkins
William V. Mong ... Mr. Walter


Five members of a teen-age gang, including leader Jimmy Smith, are sent to the state reformatory, presided over by the melodramatically callous Thompson. Soon, Patsy Gargan, a former gangster appointed deputy commissioner as a political favor, arrives - complete with hip flask and blonde. Gargan falls for activist nurse Dorothy and, inspired by her, takes over the administration to run the place on radical principles. But Thompson, to conceal his years of graft, needs a quick way to discredit Gargan. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Cagney Tears loose with everything he's got in million-volt drama- 'The Mayor of Honor' (Print ad- Leader-Post,((Regina, sask.)) 9 July 1934) See more »


Crime | Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »





English | Italian | Yiddish

Release Date:

24 June 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Reform School See more »


Box Office


$229,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


When Thompson is brought to trial by the boys in their court for the murder of Johnny, a white handkerchief is visible in the breast pocket of his black suit coat in the medium close-ups. In the long shots, the handkerchief is missing. See more »


Lawyer: All he wants is that little velvet. You know, side money. Yeah, that deputy's salary.
See more »


Remade as Hell's Kitchen (1939) See more »

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User Reviews

Cagney as Side Dish
29 April 2002 | by marcslopeSee all my reviews

The great James Cagney, top-billed in big letters, doesn't show up till the movie's second third, and probably has less screen time than Dudley Digges, who plays the eee-vill reform-school potentate. But when Jimmy arrives, as a deputy commissioner of something-or-other out to reform reform schools, he slashes the air with his hands and jumps on the balls of his feet and spits out punchy Warners-First National dialogue with all the customary, and expected, panache. The psychology in this crisp antique, one of Warners' many efforts to assert its place as the "socially conscious" studio, doesn't run deep: Digges is bad just because the script requires him to be, and there's the quaint notion that juvenile delinquents will turn into swell kids if they're just given a dash of autonomy. But it's made in that spare, fast style that the studio specialized in, and it never bores. Frankie Darro, who got into all kinds of onscreen trouble during a brief tenure as Warners' favorite Rotten Street Kid, is an ideal JD -- a handsome, charismatic toughie with a pug nose and a hate-filled stare that could wither steel. No kid actor today can touch him.

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