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
On the set one day, James Cagney stared at Jean Harlow's cleavage and asked, likely in perfect innocence and good humor, "How do you keep those things up?" "I ice them," Harlow said, before trotting off to her dressing room to do just that. See more »
When Powers feigns ignorance about guns, the salesman carefully explains the workings of a .38 revolver, yet seems unconcerned when Powers loads the gun using .38 cartridges that he takes out of his jacket pocket. See more »
[Tom stumbles from a gun fight gone wrong with the rival gang. He's barely walking and soaked from the rain]
... I ain't so tough.
[Tom collapses in the gutter]
See more »
It is the ambition of the authors of "The Public Enemy" to honestly depict the environment that exists today in a certain strata of American life, rather than glorify the hoodlum or the criminal. While the story of "The Public Enemy" is essentially a true story, all names and characters appearing herein, are purely fictional. See more »
For the theatrical release in 1931, the New York censors made the following cuts:
The scene where Putty Nose hands Tom and Matt a gun.
All scenes of the warehouse robbery.
Scenes showing the boys getting their payoff from the government liquor heist.
Most of the scene where Tom kills Putty Nose.
The seduction of Tom by Paddy's girl and the subsequent scene where Tom slaps her.
"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.
25 of 29 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this