The Public Enemy - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Public Enemy Reviews

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August 28, 2014
Cagney at his finest, with notes of humor and violence throughout. A gangster film staple.
June 29, 2014
The character of Tom Powers remains one of the most fascinating that Cagney has ever played.
March 25, 2014
A well done Gangster film. James Cagney makes for a pretty good gangster and some of the set pieces are great. A good film, but not a great one.
March 5, 2014
Not nearly as good as I expected it to be, especially with the reputation the character Tom Powers has, but he just wasn't nearly as nasty as some other gangsters Cagney has played.
December 21, 2013
I don't have much to say about "The Public Enemy" starring James Cagney. It's simply a bore, the only bright spot is Cagney himself. If he wasn't in it I would have hated it. It was made in 1931, one of the first gangster films, it was a breakthrough for Cagney as an actor. Except for its conclusion, the whole film is predictable even though it's fairly well told considering the time. Because of the technical restrictions I had a very hard time finding any other character appealing, it's very static; one of the early "talkies." Including others, Cagney's talents were still very suppressed, what he does in "Angels with Dirty Faces" and "White Heat" is light years ahead.
December 9, 2013
Great movie but the mother was just to unbelievable to give it 5 stars.
November 29, 2013
'Ahead of its time' is a phrase used lightly these days. But it applies to this gem perfectly. With scenes of beauty, shock, and engrossing drama, I don't hesitate in naming this as one of the best films of the 30's. Must see for any film nerd, or crime-drama fan.
October 29, 2013
Though it was made in 1931, it still feels as raw and hard hitting as it did back when it was released. There is a certain air of dangerous brutality about Wellman's film that is simply unparalleled and culminated with a final shocking sequence. But the film is made electric by an essential James Cagney performance, that also feels like an ultimate anti-hero portrayal. Here, his Tom Powers is bigoted, selfish and seemingly unable to show remorse of any human emotion, yet Cagney's unparalleled magnetism makes him seem strangely and sinisterly appealing. The Public Enemy is less then an hour and a half in length, yet it is a powerful and influential perfect round-up of the gangster film of the thirties, which went on to influence many similar films that followed it and famously angered censorship boards.
October 16, 2013
An entertaining mob movie that proceeds to tell a mostly interesting story.
September 13, 2013
One of the better classic Warner Bros gangster movies. In some ways the least dated of the ones I've seen, the only glaring thing that dates it is that that grapefruit scene. I don't get why people cite that as a favorite comic (or just iconic?) part of the movie, it's a mean and cruel little ad lib that would make the movie better without it in there. Cagney is great again, the guy is just a big ball of energy on screen. The ending scene in the rain is pretty awesome as well, I wonder if that was an inspiration for the scene in Road to Perdition, it reminds me a lot of it.
September 11, 2013
Cagney is great. The story is rough, especially for '31!
August 21, 2013
Pre-code gangster goodness. James Cagney is lousy with charisma.
July 20, 2013
The great James Cagney's repeated slapping on others' faces can't save the film from being horrendously dated. You may praise for its originality, but it's just a piece of cake when you look at the gangster epics later.
July 7, 2013
This is the one where Cagney smashes the grapefruit in Mae Clarke's face .....
½ June 28, 2013
This is the classic gangster film.
½ June 23, 2013
I wasn't as impressed with this as most of Cagney's other gangster movies. It seemed longer than it needed to be and mostly just drama. But the acting was awesome.
May 29, 2013
A classic gangster tale It does however, suffer from the censorship codes of it's day and having to have a 'crime doesn't pay' message.
May 9, 2013
THE Gangster picture. Forget anything before or since. This is Cody Jarrett without the madness.
½ April 21, 2013
It lacks the focus and dramatic depth of many of the many gangster films that would follow (The closing title card summary feels rather quaint), but this early staple of the genre is a real gut-punch of a movie. James Cagney is simply spectacular in the role that made him a star. This is famously one of Martin Scorcese's favorite films, and the influence it had on "Goodfellas," "The Departed," and others is striking. The ending is jaw-dropping.
½ March 26, 2013
Cagney as a street thug turned prohibition era gangster. Considered a classic film.
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