It's the early days of the F.B.I. - federal agents working for the Department of Justice. Though they've got limited powers - they don't carry weapons and have to get local police approval ... See full summary »
Tom Powers and Matt Doyle are best friends and fellow gangsters, their lives frowned upon by Tom's straight laced brother, Mike, and Matt's straight laced sister, Molly. From their teen-aged years into young adulthood, Tom and Matt have an increasingly lucrative life, bootlegging during the Prohibition era. But Tom in particular becomes more and more brazen in what he is willing to do, and becomes more obstinate and violent against those who either disagree with him or cross him. When one of their colleagues dies in a freak accident, a rival bootlegging faction senses weakness among Tom and Matt's gang, which is led by Paddy Ryan. A gang war ensues, resulting in Paddy suggesting that Tom and Matt lay low. But because of Tom's basic nature, he decides instead to take matters into his own hands. Written by
Donald Cook was supposed to explode in fury with a hard sock to James Cagney's jaw. In his autobiography, Cagney said he was sure William A. Wellman had urged Cook to let his co-star really have it. Instead of faking it for the camera, Cook hauled off and belted Cagney right in the face, sending him flying across the set and breaking a tooth. See more »
Opening the scene where the building is bombed we see two individuals standing up in an open car preparing to throw the bombs that will destroy the building. They throw the bombs and as the car pulls away both of the bombs have bounced off the building and can be seen rolling in the street immediately behind the car as it accelerates out of the frame and the building blows up anyway. See more »
"The Godfather" trilogy and "Goodfellas" owe a lot to this gangster film that preceded them both by at least fifty years. "The Public Enemy" was perhaps one of the first mob films that followed the rise and fall of a gangster and showed not only the implication of his actions on himself but on his family as well.
The film is far from perfect. The first ten minutes of the film in which we are shown a glimpse into the characters' childhood are jerky at best and feel as if much of it was left on the cutting room floor. The movie's incessant fast pace thereafter don't allow for much to sink in, but Cagney saves the day with an absolutely fiery performance. Not one person is spared from his bubbling anger and ferocious delivery.
Finally, the ending will leave you gasping - even by today's standards.
"The Public Enemy" is a must see for any true fan of the mob movie genre.
21 of 25 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?