Gangs of Chicago

Gangs of Chicago is a 1940 film, starring Lloyd Nolan, Barton MacLane, Lola Lane, Ray Middleton, Astrid Allwyn, and Horace McMahon. Alan Ladd has a small uncredited role.[2]

Gangs of Chicago
Directed byArthur Lubin
Produced byRobert North (associate producer)
Written byKarl Brown
StarringLloyd Nolan
Barton MacLane
Lola Lane
CinematographyElwood Bredell
Distributed byRepublic Pictures
Release date
June 1940[1]
Running time
66 mins
CountryUnited States


After the death of his corrupt father, young Matty Burns enrolls in law school, not to seek justice but to learn how to represent criminal organizations while remaining within the law. He graduates with roommate Bill Whitaker, a judge's son, and is invited to come live at the Whitaker farm, where June Whitaker finds herself attracted to her brother Bill's friend.

With a federal agent named Evans keeping a close eye on his activities, Matty becomes the legal mouthpiece of Jim Ramsey, a racketeer. Bill is beseeched by agent Evans to spy on his friend, which he does reluctantly at the urging of his law-abiding dad.

Ramsey and his moll, Virginia Brandt, don't trust Bill and spring a trap, catching him red-handed seeking evidence. Bill is seriously wounded by thug Pinky's gunshot and rushed to a doctor by Matty, his friend. Both later hide out at the family farm, where Ramsey and his men come to finish the job. They are vanquished, but Matty must now do time behind bars.



The film was announced in March 1940 with Nolan and Lubin attached. Lubin had just finished directing Black Friday.[3] Filming started in late March 1940.[4] It was shot at Grand National Studios.[5]

It was one of the last appearances of Dwight Frye.[6]


The Los Angeles Times said Nolan and Middleton are "very good, but it is really Lola Lane... who rings bells."[7] The New York Times called it "a stock cops and robbers melodrama... the only surprise in the picture is the sincere performance turned in by Ray Middleton."[8]

The film was banned in Chicago by the censors. However they allowed the film to be released there after Republic changed the title to Gangs of a City.[9]

Diabolique called it "a classy B".[10]


  1. Of Local Origin New York Times 10 June 1940: 21.
  2. Gangs of Chicago Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 7, Iss. 73, (Jan 1, 1940): 128.
  3. Joel McCrea Will Star in 'Two on an Island' Los Angeles Times 19 Mar 1940: A12.
  4. SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: New York Times 20 Mar 1940: 41.
  5. Bolivar to Be Limned by Both Gable, Flynn Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 21 Mar 1940: 12.
  6. DWIGHT FRYE DIES; CHARACTER ACTOR:New York Times 12 Nov 1943: 22.
  7. 'Crazy Show' at Orpheum Amusing Footlight Fare Kingley, Grace. Los Angeles Times 6 June 1940: 16.
  8. THE SCREEN By BOSLEY CROWTHER. New York Times 13 June 1940: 29.
  9. THE SCREEN GRAB-BAG: Abe Lincoln' in Sioux Falls--Stoppage of 'Life' in Chicago--Other Items By THOMAS M. PRYOR. New York Times 9 June 1940: X3.
  10. Vagg, Stephen (14 September 2019). "The Cinema of Arthur Lubin". Diabolique Magazine.

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