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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 11,791 users  
Reviews: 101 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

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

In the scene were Tom and Mike are talking at the kitchen table Tom's hat brim goes from being up to down without Tom touching it. See more »

Quotes

Jane: Breakfast is all ready, Tommy.
Tom Powers: I ain't hungry. Pour me some coffee, will you, and make it black.
Jane: You aren't sorry are you?
Tom Powers: Sorry? Sorry about what?
Jane: For last night.
Tom Powers: What do you mean? For getting drunk?
Jane: Aren't you the little play actor.
Tom Powers: Wait a minute... Do you mean that... Why you...
[Tom slaps Jane]
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Cutting Edge: The Magic of Movie Editing (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Hesitation Blues
(1915) (uncredited)
Music by Billy Smythe, Scott Middleton and Art Gillham
Played on the piano and sung twice by Murray Kinnell
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Still riveting, over 70 years later!
6 April 2004 | by (Colorado Springs, CO) – See all my reviews

Most films made in the early 30s are entertaining only as period pieces that give us a glimpse into another era. Often they are so dated that they've become unintentionally funny.

The Public Enemy is a totally different thing. It is such a well-crafted and honest film that it still has the power to shock us. The violence in this film is every bit as brutal as anything in a modern "gangsta" flick, even though some of it takes place off-camera.

Based on the stills I had seen of the grapefruit scene, I thought it would be a light-hearted moment. In fact, it's anything but. In that encounter, Cagney's character exhibits a total disregard for others that is downright chilling.

The final scene is extremely disturbing. You won't forget it.


17 of 20 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
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No dvd of this one? feilertsen
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