The Angels Wash Their Faces

The Angels Wash Their Faces

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ray Enright
Produced by Max Siegel
Written by Michael Fessier
Niven Busch
Robert Buckner
Starring Ann Sheridan
Billy Halop
Bernard Punsly
Leo Gorcey
Huntz Hall
Gabriel Dell
Bobby Jordan
Ronald Reagan
Bonita Granville
Frankie Thomas
Henry O'Neill
Eduardo Ciannelli
Music by Adolph DeLitsch
Cinematography Arthur L. Todd
Edited by James Gibson
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • August 26, 1939 (1939-08-26)
Running time
86 minutes
Language English

The Angels Wash Their Faces is a 1939 Warner Bros. film starring Ronald Reagan and The Dead End Kids.


Gabe Ryan (Frankie Thomas) is released from reform school and it taken to a new house by his sister Joy (Ann Sheridan) to start a new life where no one knows of his past. However, Gabe immediately joins a local gang, the Beale Street Termites, where he meets up with William Kroner (Bernard Nedell), a local gangster. William accuses him of starting a fire at one of his properties, and Alfred Martino (Eduardo Ciannelli), the actual arsonist, uses this opportunity to frame Gabe for any fire. He decides to torch one of his apartment complexes so that he can collect the insurance money. Unfortunately, one of the kids, Sleepy (Bernard Punsly) is killed in the fire.

Patrick Remson (Ronald Reagan), the Assistant District Attorney, tries to prove Gabe's innocence. His motives are not only to prove Gabe's innocence, but also to get closer to his sister. Joy has devoted her life to helping Gabe and neglects her other interests, which was rallying against city government corruption, which pleases Martino. However, it is all for naught as Gabe is found guilty and sentenced to prison.

The other boys, led by Billy (Billy Halop), decide to do something to help Gabe. Billy runs for "boy mayor" and wins. He has Kroner arrested for a small infraction and sends him to jail. While there, Billy and the rest of the gang interrogate him and try to make him admit that Gabe is innocent. He does not cave in, that is until he is shown proof that his accomplices, Martino and the fire chief, are planning to skip the country. He confesses and Martino and the chief are arrested and sent to prison.


It was filmed under the title, The Battle of City Hall. It was changed to reference the title of the unrelated movie Angels with Dirty Faces.[1]


The Dead End Kids

Additional cast

Home media

The film was released on DVD by Warner Brothers on November 10, 2010.


  1. Hayes, David and Brent Walker (1984). The Films of The Bowery Boys. Secaucus, NJ: Citadel Press.
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