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The Public Enemy (1931)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  23 April 1931 (USA)
7.8
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 11,060 users  
Reviews: 97 user | 66 critic

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:
...
...
Edward Woods ...
...
Donald Cook ...
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:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

23 April 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Beer and Blood  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Brunswick Radios Used Exclusively)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ranked #8 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Gangster" in June 2008. See more »

Goofs

As the trucks are leaving the Lehman Brewery, the shadow of a boom mic is visible on the trucks as they drive out the gate. See more »

Quotes

Tom Powers: [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 »

Connections

Featured in Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Maple Leaf Rag
(1899) (uncredited)
Music by Scott Joplin
Played offscreen on piano
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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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Does anyone feel sorry for Putty Nose when Tom kills him? mlraymond
Bad Acting WardenGordonBorden
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