Cagney's acting career was launched by this story of two Irish boys growing up in a Chicago shantytown to become hoodlums during the prohibition era. Tom (Cagney) and Matt (Woods) work their way up the criminal ladder, hooking up with molls Kitty (Clarke) and Mamie (Blondell) on their rise to the top. Harlow's a tough blonde who knows how to handle Cagney when he gets tired of Clarke. Considered the most realistic "gangster" film, Wellman's movie is also the most grimly brutal due to its release prior to Hollywood censorship. The scene where Cagney smashes a grapefruit in Clarke's face was credited with starting a trend in abusing film heroines.