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City Streets

Released Apr 18, 1931 1h 22m Crime Drama List
80% Tomatometer 5 Reviews 84% Audience Score 100+ Ratings A mobster's daughter (Sylvia Sidney) leads her boyfriend (Gary Cooper) from the circus into bootlegging. Read More Read Less

Critics Reviews

View All (5) Critics Reviews
Richard Brody New Yorker This atmospheric gangster classic, from 1931, is based on a story by Dashiell Hammett; it offers a terse visual translation of his prose as well as of his cold-blooded view of Prohibition-era underworld wiles. Jun 16, 2014 Full Review Dave Kehr Chicago Reader Gary Cooper, in a fine, gangly performance as a saintly bootlegger, is worth watching. Apr 11, 2013 Full Review Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com Mamoulian's inentive crime-gangster film of the early sound era stars the young, handsome Gary Cooper in atypical role, before he became a movie star. Rated: B Mar 22, 2012 Full Review Fernando F. Croce CinePassion Quite the wry gangster sonata May 4, 2011 Full Review Dennis Schwartz Dennis Schwartz Movie Reviews A romance story cloaked in the garb of an outdated crime drama. Rated: C+ Oct 26, 2004 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

View All (11) audience reviews
bao s Beautifully shot with many memorable scenes that I have seen represented in mnay movies that followed. Cooper at his best. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 07/12/23 Full Review Audience Member The best gangster movie ever made! Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/26/23 Full Review Audience Member Rouben Mamoulian adds a dose of style to this otherwise ordinary gangster picture - but that style makes all the difference. Instead of simply plot mechanics (girl whose stepfather is a racketeer tries to persuade her boyfriend to join the gang but then regrets it later when he does and her eyes are opened to the brutality), we have something more poetic. Some of this is montage and some of it is inserted shots and some of it is a more natural approach to the settings and events (the couple have a rendezvous at the beach and we and they watch the waves). In any event, the flow of the picture seems different, even if there is still rough stuff among the hoods and some dirty double-crossing familiar to fans of the genre. Reviewers of the time didn't like Paul Lukas as the big boss, but his lilting accent and sophisticated manner inject a little more weirdness to the proceedings. Sylvia Sidney (young!) is captivating as the girl who wants to escape the gangster life (after a stretch in jail) and Gary Cooper (young!) is charismatic as her man who falls in and then falls out with the gang. Mamoulian would later direct "Love Me Tonight" and, while City Streets is not a musical, the director's flair for romance is clearly evident. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/04/23 Full Review Audience Member This film is likely the first thing I've ever seen Gary Cooper in, and he's charismatic enough, but most of what I recall about the film is how casually the racketeer father of Cooper's love interest allows her to take the fall for him and do ACTUAL TIME in jail, which is just freaky to think a parent could be so callous. Worth a rental. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/07/23 Full Review Audience Member City Streets (1931) Gary Cooper as an urban gangster? Yep! It's hard to believe, but City Streets is a gangster picture with a very young Gary Cooper. If you get a chance to see this pre-code movie, catch it, because, it hasn't been released on DVD yet. The movie is based on a Dashiell Hammett story. Nan Cooley (played by beautiful Sylvia Sidney, in her first film) is the daughter of bootlegger under-boss Pop Cooley (Guy Kibbee), who works for Big Fellow Maskal (Paul Lukas). Nan has enjoyed the extravagant gangsta lifestyle, and has gotten accustomed to covering for Pop. Nan has fallen in love with a young carnival worker who works at a shooting gallery. The Kid (Cooper) used to be a circus cowboy, and is content with his small-change (but honest) life, where Nan wants him to work for her Dad and afford the big cars, nice clothes, etc. She knows that The Kid is a crack shot and would be good at it. Then one night Nan gets caught with the murder weapon that her Dad used and has to go to prison. Pop tells the Kid that he needs his help to afford to get Nan out of prison early. All the time, a reforming Nan is thankful that she didn't talk The Kid into this life of crime. Director Rouben Mamoulian, did an excellent job of filming this with artful camera angles, close-ups, and even an inner (voice-over) monologue that was revolutionary for its time. While Nan ponders her life of crime and the fact that The Kid is now in "the Beer Business" you're thinking and worrying along with her. This is an excellent little movie, and I highly recommend it. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/16/23 Full Review Audience Member When you think of 30's gangster films and the actors who starred in them...Gary Cooper would probably be the last actor you would think of. With his hayseed screen persona and slow delivery, Coop just doesn't lend himself to one's idea of the tough gangster. Cooper may have been too handsome for his own good because I just do not see the evilness that one can perceive, say behind James Cagney's snarling mug in THE PUBLIC ENEMY or Edward G. Robinson's scowl in LITTLE CAESAR. Cooper too fails miserably at the punch - here giving an awkward looking roundhouse swing (akin to a baseball pitch - with the requisite leg-lift, for goodness sakes) that you would never catch former boxer Cagney doing. But all kidding aside, the young Gary Cooper is adequate in CITY STREETS, a story penned by Dashiell Hammett - which works more as a kind of "morality tale". I don't think Cooper's character was meant to be a gangster anyway. Cooper here plays "The Kid" - the cash-strapped boyfriend to Nan (Sylvia Sidney). Nan was raised by her step-father, "Pop" Cooley (Guy Kibbee), a seemingly jovial underling to succesful beer racketeer "Big Fellow" Mascal (Paul Lukas). Nan is conditioned to the ways of a racketeer by her step-dad, who would go so far as to reward her for keeping secrets - something which will come in handy when "Pop" later becomes prime suspect in a shooting. "The Kid" is employed at the local carnival shooting gallery, but is himself very proficient with the pistols - and pleased to show off his marksmanship to potential customers - a talent not lost on Nan. She tries to persuade "The Kid" to quit the carnival and join up with her "Pop"... but "The Kid" wants no part of the dark side. He is proud of making an honest living: Nan: "We can't even afford to get married." The Kid: "If you love me, you'd marry me anyway." Nan, disappointed: "Yeah...and live in a tent." The Kid: "Why not?!?" Nan: "I don't like tents..." The Kid: "It isn't the tents. It's me..." * MILD SPOILERS TO FOLLOW * The above romantic scene was nicely shot at a moonlit beach by cinematographer Lee Garmes who takes full advantage of the use of light and shadows in this film...but, I think this is merely a warm-up for Garmes, who would use the same techniques to much better results in SCARFACE (1932). Director Rouben Mamoulian eschews the showing of graphic violence here - opting instead for off-camera killings...something that may disappoint some viewers - especially the climactic scenes, which comes off as possibly too non-confrontational for modern audience (referred to as hokey, or out-dated by some reviewers I've read). But I think it's very well in keeping with Dashiell Hammett's story of a couple trying to break free of the circle of violence created by the racketeers in this story. I too laughed at first, but "old fashioned" as it may seem - "The Kid" being able to disarm his adversaries without the use of violence is actually refreshing, now that I think about it...and plays very well with the morality of the story...and shows us that the ends doesn't necessarily have to justify the use of the "means" (if ya get what I mean...heh heh) and thus Mamoulian shows us the soaring birds to symbolize true freedom. Hmmmm...there are actually other "bird" references sprinkled throughout this film but I'll let you discover them for yourself. Of special note and interest to trivia buffs is the use of voice-over narration in this film. Filmmakers were still experimenting with sound at the time and Rouben Mamoulian and actress Sylvia Sidney would be credited with the first use of this story-telling technique here... 8 Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/11/23 Full Review Read all reviews
City Streets

My Rating


Cast & Crew

Underworld 90% 87% Underworld Little Caesar 92% 75% Little Caesar Criss Cross 86% 79% Criss Cross Five Star Final 91% 79% Five Star Final The Racket 100% 68% The Racket Discover more movies and TV shows. View More

Movie Info

Synopsis A mobster's daughter (Sylvia Sidney) leads her boyfriend (Gary Cooper) from the circus into bootlegging.
Rouben Mamoulian
E. Lloyd Sheldon
Crime, Drama
Original Language
Release Date (Theaters)
Apr 18, 1931, Original
1h 22m