The Public Enemy (1931)
Average Rating: 8.4/10
Reviews Counted: 26
Fresh: 26 | Rotten: 0
No consensus yet.
Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 3
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 0
Average Rating: 3.9/5
User Ratings: 7,261
William Wellman's landmark gangster movie traces the rise and fall of prohibition-era mobster Tom Powers. We are first shown various episodes of Tom's childhood with the corrupting influences of the beer hall, pool parlor, and false friends like minor-league fence Putty Nose. As young adults, Tom (James Cagney) and his pal, Matt Doyle (Edward Woods), are hired by ruthless but innately decent bootlegger Paddy Ryan (Robert Emmett O'Connor). The boys quickly rise to the top of the heap, with all
Apr 23, 1931 Wide
Sep 11, 2001
WARNER BROTHERS PICTURES
Robert E. O'Connor
Clark 'Buddy' Burrou...
Frank Coghlan Jr.
Tom As A Boy
Matt as a Boy
Ben Hendricks Jr.
Joe the Headwaiter
Steve the Bartender
Robert E. Homans
Officer Pat Burke
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There's no lace on this picture. It's raw and brutal. It's low-brow material given such workmanship as to make it high-brow.
Cagney's energy and Wellman's gutsy direction carry the day, counteracting the moralistic sentimentality of the script and indelibly etching the star on the memory as a definitive gangster hero.
James Cagney's portrayal of a bootlegging runt is truly electrifying (he'd made five films, but this one made him a star), and Jean Harlow makes the tartiest tart imaginable.
This early sound film, which made a star of James Cagney, remains one of the most influential crime-gangster films ever made, establishing the basic narrative format of the popular genre.
Crime may not pay, but The Public Enemy was one of the first pictures to recognize that it sure can be exciting to watch.
Top notch Cagney gangster flick with memorable final scene.
The film's juiciest scene has the misogynist Tom squeeze a half a grapefruit in his nagging girlfriend Kitty's (Mae Clarke) kisser.
Still a classic of the gangster genre, showing neither glorifying the life nor pulling its punches.
Its success proved, if by then there was any doubt, that audiences will go for a charismatic lowlife over a dull hero any day of the week, a lesson Hollywood never forgot.
The implication is that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of guys like Tom Powers, little criminals living fast and dying hard.
The film set the template for the likes of "Scarface" and "GoodFellas."
Contrary to popular opinion, the best moment in the film isn't when Jimmy Cagney shoves a grapefruit in his girlfriend's face.
...it was Cagney's film from beginning to end, to win or to lose, and he came out one of the biggest winners in Hollywood.
Overripe, rigid, and at times clunky ... and that's part of the enjoyment.
One of the essential gangster films.
Now a classic, this is the movie in which Cagney famously crams a grapefruit into Mae Clarke's face.
A stunning starring vehicle for Cagney that shaped his career. Dated and a bit slow, but Cagney magnetism shines through even then.
a cracklingly good vintage Cagney vehicle
Audience Reviews for The Public Enemy
- Tom Powers: Nuts to that stuff (breakfast)! Ain't ya got a drink in the house?
- Tom Powers: Hiding behind Ma's skirts, like always.
- Mike Powers: Better than hiding behind a machine gun.
- Matt Doyle: Gee, she's a honey. I could go for her myself.
- Tom Powers: Whatdya mean, you could go for her yourself? You could go for an eighty year old chick with rheumatism.
- Tom Powers: Hello baby. What are you gonna have?
- Kitty: Anything you say, big boy.
- Tom Powers: You're a swell dish. I think I'm going to go for you.
- Tom Powers: Hey, stoop, that's got gears. That ain't no Ford.
- Tom Powers: Why that dirty, no good, yellow-bellied stool. I'm gonna give it to him right in the head the first time I see him.
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