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Sergeant Madden (1939)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Family | 24 March 1939 (USA)
A highly respected Irish cop is pleased when his son follows him onto the force. Unfortunately, the son is more interested in rewards than in upholding the law. When he shoots a child ... See full summary »


Josef von Sternberg (as Josef Von Sternberg)


William A. Ullman Jr. (story "A Gun In His Hand") (as William A. Ulman Jr.), Wells Root (screenplay)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Wallace Beery ... Sgt. Shaun Madden
Tom Brown ... Albert 'Al' Boylan, Jr.
Alan Curtis ... Dennis Madden
Laraine Day ... Eileen Daly
Fay Holden ... Mary Madden
Marc Lawrence ... 'Piggy' Ceders
Marion Martin ... Charlotte LePage
David Gorcey ... Punchy LePage
Donald Haines Donald Haines ... Milton
Ben Welden ... Henchman Stemmy
Etta McDaniel ... Dove (Madden's maid)
John Kelly ... Henchman Nero
Horace McMahon ... Philadelphia (as Horace MacMahon)
Neil Fitzgerald Neil Fitzgerald ... Casey (police broadcaster)
Dickie Jones ... Dennis Madden, as a boy


A highly respected Irish cop is pleased when his son follows him onto the force. Unfortunately, the son is more interested in rewards than in upholding the law. When he shoots a child caught stealing, the others frame him and he is sent to prison where his attitude becomes even worse than before. Written by Ulf Kjell Gür

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Father A Cop . . . The Son A Killer See more »


Crime | Drama | Family


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

24 March 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El borrón de la familia See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The magazine depicted as announcing that the Madden's are expecting, Spring 3100, is a real magazine for the current and retired members of the NYPD. First published in March, 1930, its title comes from an old phone number to call the police department in New York City - SPring7-3100. See more »


The ship shown arriving from Ireland with Eileen has smoke going into the smokestacks, indicating the footage of a ship departing and the film is being run in reverse. See more »


Sgt. Shaun Madden: Aww... you shouldn't be kissing an old sheepdog like me.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening card: There is an unsung hero on our street to whom we owe our lives a hundred times, yet seldom know his name. He is the cop on the beat. This is the story of such a hero.. A policeman who chose between love for his son and devotion to duty. See more »

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User Reviews

Cop tangles with the mob
13 September 2017 | by ksf-2See all my reviews

Larger than life Wallace Beery is Sergeant Madden, the cop on the beat, who can solve any problem. About twenty minutes in, we jump ahead to when his son Dennis is applying to the police academy, and must learn some hard lessons. Alan Curtis plays "Dennis", and died young at 43, after surgery. Interesting note... Don Haines plays Milton; Haines enlisted early in the war, and died fighting in Africa at the young age of 23. Also look for David Gorcey (Punchy).. younger brother of the better known Leo Gorcey from the "Bowery Boys" films. In the story, Dennis is stubborn, and can't seem to get along with anyone, including members of his own family. Dennis is sweet on Eileen (Laraine Day) , the girl that the family had taken in as a baby. This was one of Day's early roles, and was only 18. Dennis gets into all kinds of trouble, and Dad (Beery) tries to get him out of it, if he can. Pretty good story. Very typical in the days of the mob and a mix of good cops and bad cops. Only 90 votes as of today. Must not be shown on Turner Classics very often. It's pretty good; hope they show it more frequently. Directed by Josef von Sternberg, who had been nominated for Oscars in 1931 1nd 1932.

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