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The Public Enemy (1931)

A young hoodlum rises up through the ranks of the Chicago underworld, even as a gangster's accidental death threatens to spark a bloody mob war.

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
Edward Woods ...
...
...
Leslie Fenton ...
Beryl Mercer ...
Robert Emmett O'Connor ...
Paddy Ryan (as Robert O'Connor)
Murray Kinnell ...
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Storyline

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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Action | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

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Details

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Release Date:

23 April 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Beer and Blood  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Brunswick Radios Used Exclusively)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Several versions exist of the origin of the notorious grapefruit scene, but the most plausible is the one on which both James Cagney and Mae Clarke agree: The scene, they explained, was actually staged as a practical joke at the expense of the film crew, just to see their stunned reactions. There was never any intention of ever using the shot in the completed film. Director William A. Wellman, however, eventually decided to keep the shot, and use it in the film's final release print. See more »

Goofs

Near the end of the film, Tom Powers is hiding by the stairs, waiting in the rain for his enemies. After they arrive, Tom stands up and his hat is straight on his head, the next view of him has the hat cocked to one side, then the following view shows the hat straight again. See more »

Quotes

Jane: Let me fix you another drink, Tommy.
Tom Powers: You mean to say you got any of that stuff left?
Jane: Ha-ha-ha. You haven't drank so much.
Tom Powers: Well, I can drink it as long as you can pour it.
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Soundtracks

Brighten the Corner Where You Are
(1913) (uncredited)
Music by Charles Gabriel
Played by a Salvation Army Band
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
the prototype for gangster films to follow
3 September 2000 | by (Montreal, Quebec) – See all my reviews

"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.


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