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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 11,170 users  
Reviews: 99 user | 67 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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Title: The Public Enemy (1931)

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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

Edward Woods was originally hired for the lead role of Tom Powers and James Cagney was hired to play Matt Doyle, his friend. However, once director William A. Wellman got to know both of them and saw Cagney in rehearsals, he realized that Cagney would be far more effective in the star role than Woods, so he switched them. See more »

Goofs

When the phonograph needle is put on the record for the music that will play throughout the last scene, the music begins well before the needle touches the record. See more »

Quotes

Putty Nose: Are you alone?
Tom Powers: I'm always alone when I'm with Matt.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hoodlum & Son (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Smiles
(1917) (uncredited)
Music by Lee S. Roberts
Played in Paddy's bar
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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.


15 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Does anyone feel sorry for Putty Nose when Tom kills him? mlraymond
Bad Acting WardenGordonBorden
what if this movie was remade? infamousdave886
What was the last thing James Cagney Said?? mikehunt620
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No dvd of this one? feilertsen
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