The Mayor of Hell (1933) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Mayor of Hell1933

The Mayor of Hell (1933)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Mayor of Hell Photos

Movie Info

Gangster Cagney allows his powerful political connections to appoint him "deputy inspector" of a state reform school. There he finds the youths abused and battered by a brutal, heartless warden and his thuggish guards. It is a nurse who informs Cagney and pleads with him to clean things up. Something touches Cagney's normally hard heart and he commits himself to enacting more humane reforms. Soon, he gets the warden booted out and begins working closely with the inmates, who come to trust and respect him until Cagney's dark side emerges and he reveals himself for what he is--a ruthless mobster. This destroys the boys' trust and when the old warden is reinstated makes matters even worse until Cagney makes a difficult choice. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

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James Cagney
as Patsy Gargan
Madge Evans
as Dorothy Griffith
Dudley Digges
as Mr. Thompson
Arthur Byron
as Judge Gilbert
Frankie Darro
as Jimmy Smith
as Smoke
Dorothy Peterson
as Mrs. Smith
John Marston
as Hopkins
Hobart Cavanaugh
as Tommy's Father
Ted Offenbecker
as Charlie Burns
Raymond Borzage
as Johnny Stone
Mickey Bennett
as Butch Kilgore
A.S. Byron
as Judge Gilbert
Sheila Terry
as the Girl
Edwin Maxwell
as Louis Johnston
Sidney Miller
as Izzy Horowitz
George Humbert
as Tony's father
George Offerman Jr.
as Charlie Burns
Charles Cane
as Tommy Groman
Wallace MacDonald
as Johnson's assistant
Adrian Morris
as Car owner
Bob Perry
as Collector
Ben Taggart
as Sheriff
George Offerman Sr.
as Charlie Burns
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Critic Reviews for The Mayor of Hell

All Critics (3)

Mayo illustrates in a rather didactic way a social drama about reformatories, with a wonderful performance from James Cagney. [Full review in Spanish]

July 8, 2021 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…

It is one of the most stimulating American films I have seen for months.

February 3, 2021 | Full Review…

An awkward yet ultimately enjoyable mix of gangster drama and social commentary.

April 5, 2008 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Mayor of Hell

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 Block
Antonius Block

Super Reviewer

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 Gildea
Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

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
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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