The Public Enemy Reviews

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Emanuel Levy
EmanuelLevy.Com
August 12, 2011
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.
Full Review | Original Score: A
Josh Larsen
LarsenOnFilm
July 5, 2009
Crime may not pay, but The Public Enemy was one of the first pictures to recognize that it sure can be exciting to watch.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Steve Crum
Video-Reviewmaster.com
March 2, 2008
Top notch Cagney gangster flick with memorable final scene.
| Original Score: 5/5
Dennis Schwartz
Ozus' World Movie Reviews
December 15, 2007
The film's juiciest scene has the misogynist Tom squeeze a half a grapefruit in his nagging girlfriend Kitty's (Mae Clarke) kisser.
Full Review | Original Score: B
Jake Hamilton
Empire Magazine
October 30, 2007
Still a classic of the gangster genre, showing neither glorifying the life nor pulling its punches.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Top Critic
Variety Staff
Variety
October 30, 2007
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.
Mark Bourne
DVDJournal.com
April 9, 2006
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.
Philip Martin
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
February 20, 2006
The implication is that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of guys like Tom Powers, little criminals living fast and dying hard.
| Original Score: 88/100
Top Critic
Geoff Andrew
Time Out
February 9, 2006
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.
Phil Villarreal
Arizona Daily Star
January 20, 2006
The film set the template for the likes of "Scarface" and "GoodFellas."
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Chris Barsanti
Slant Magazine
February 11, 2005
Contrary to popular opinion, the best moment in the film isn't when Jimmy Cagney shoves a grapefruit in his girlfriend's face.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
John J. Puccio
Movie Metropolis
January 30, 2005
...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.
Full Review | Original Score: 8/10
Jay Antani
Filmcritic.com
November 10, 2004
Overripe, rigid, and at times clunky ... and that's part of the enjoyment.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Ken Hanke
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
July 31, 2003
One of the essential gangster films.
| Original Score: 5/5

TV Guide's Movie Guide
July 30, 2003
Fascinating and brutally realistic.
Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5

Film4
May 24, 2003
A riveting story told in 84 minutes.
Marjorie Baumgarten
Austin Chronicle
March 10, 2003
Now a classic, this is the movie in which Cagney famously crams a grapefruit into Mae Clarke's face.
Bob Bloom
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
September 8, 2002
A stunning starring vehicle for Cagney that shaped his career. Dated and a bit slow, but Cagney magnetism shines through even then.
| Original Score: 4/5
James Sanford
Kalamazoo Gazette
July 29, 2002
a cracklingly good vintage Cagney vehicle
| Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
Dave Kehr
Chicago Reader
January 1, 2000
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.
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