7.7/10
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106 user 70 critic

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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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

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Genres:

Action | Crime | Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

15 May 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Beer and Blood  »

Company Credits

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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

Further connection to the Charles Dion O'Bannion reference is that the rival gang in the film are led by "Schemer Burns", an obvious reference to the real-life "Schemer Drucci", who was part of the North Side Gang led by O'Bannion. See more »

Goofs

As Tom and Matt leave the fur warehouse after their abortive robbery attempt early in the film, Matt is clearly seen throwing down his gun on the roof of the building; but after they slide down the drainpipe and run to freedom through the alley both Tom AND Matt throw their guns onto a nearby roof, even though we have already seen Matt discard his. 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

I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles
(1919) (uncredited)
Music by James Kendis, James Brockman and Nat Vincent
Played at various times throughout the film
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

83 minutes of Cinematic Bliss
9 August 2003 | by (Malltown) – See all my reviews

Larger than life classic that chronicles the life of a street hustler turned crime lord in prohibition Chicago, based loosely on the various antics of the Irish mega-hoodlums, O'Bannon and Moran.

While we may never literally create a time machine, these old movies give you the miracle of observation at least of what life was once like. Sadly many of the old films have been destroyed through neglect, so the pickings are very slim. Public Enemy is one of the best old movies available. For only the sheer pleasure of seeing what all the fuss was about in Cagney and Harlow, it's worth a viewing. Director Wellman creates some extremely lasting images you won't want to miss, and it almost makes me think of the original Frankenstein for that reason. The final sequence especially is a dramatic example of lasting imagery in film, quite an unforgettable experience. If you like Godfather, Scarface, Goodfellas, and who doesn't, you owe it yourself to watch what may be the patriarch of the entire genre. Interestingly, while the film has a campy disclaimer demonizing the subject matter and mandating public action in order to address the evils of organized crime, it's rather obvious that the producers new exactly what they were really doing by making a film like this. Brutal as some of the action is, Cagney's charisma glorifies the gangster as much as Coppola, Scorsese and all the rest glorify modern organized crime. See it for yourself!!!


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