The Crowd Roars (1932 film)

The Crowd Roars
Directed by Howard Hawks
Written by Howard Hawks
Screenplay by John Bright
Niven Busch
Kubec Glasmon
Seton I. Miller
Starring James Cagney
Joan Blondell
Music by Bernhard Kaun
Cinematography Sidney Hickox
John Stumar
Edited by Thomas Pratt
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • April 16, 1932 (1932-04-16) (U.S.)
Running time
85 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Crowd Roars is a 1932 American Pre-Code film directed by Howard Hawks starring James Cagney and featuring Joan Blondell, Ann Dvorak, Eric Linden, Guy Kibbee, and Frank McHugh. A film of the same name was made in 1938 with a different story line, starring Robert Taylor.

The driver in the film's auto racing sequences was Harry Hartz, a successful board track and Indianapolis 500 race professional.[1] It was remade in 1939 as Indianapolis Speedway with Pat O'Brien in Cagney's role, Ann Sheridan in Blondell's role, and McHugh playing the same role he played in the original.[2]


Motor racing champion Joe Greer (James Cagney) returns home to compete in an exhibition race featuring his younger brother Eddie, who has aspirations of becoming a champion. Joe's misogynistic obsession with "protecting" Eddie (Eric Linden) from "women" causes Joe to interfere with Eddie's relationship with Anne (Joan Blondell), leading to estrangement between Joe and Eddie, and between Joe and his longtime girlfriend Lee (Ann Dvorak), who is made to feel "not good enough" to be around Eddie.

During the race, a third driver, Spud Connors (Frank McHugh), wrecks and is burned alive. Driving lap after lap through the flames and the smell of burning flesh (and maybe past the burning body) while blaming himself for the accident, Joe loses his will to race. Eddie goes on to win. Afterward, Joe's career plummets as Eddie's rises. The power of love eventually triumphs and Joe's career and his relationships with Lee and Eddie are rehabilitated.

Cast (in credits order)


Certain scenes were filmed at the now defunct Nutley Velodrome race track in Nutley, New Jersey with Harry Hartz standing in for James Cagney.[3]

Sentimentalism is downplayed in this "pre-Code" film. The lingering stench of Spud's burning body is implied strongly by the horrified expression on each driver's face as he passes through the smoke and tongue of burning gasoline that marks the wreck site, sometimes pushing his scarf against his nose.


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