MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Down 292 this week

The Public Enemy (1931)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  23 April 1931 (USA)
7.8
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.8/10 from 11,046 users  
Reviews: 98 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.

Director:

Writers:

(by), (by), 1 more credit »
0Check in
0Share...

Watch Now

From $2.00 on Amazon Instant Video

Editors' Spotlight

IMDb Picks: October

IMDb's editors share the movies and TV shows they are excited to see in October.


User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 30 titles
created 08 Dec 2010
 
a list of 35 titles
created 02 Mar 2011
 
a list of 49 titles
created 15 May 2013
 
a list of 44 titles
created 6 months ago
 
a list of 25 titles
created 2 months ago
 

Related Items


Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: The Public Enemy (1931)

The Public Enemy (1931) on IMDb 7.8/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Public Enemy.

User Polls

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

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Little Caesar (1931)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Rico is a small-time hood who knocks off gas stations for whatever he can take. He heads east and signs up with Sam Vettori's mob. A New Year's Eve robbery at Little Arnie Lorch's casino ... See full summary »

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Glenda Farrell
White Heat (1949)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A psychopathic criminal with a mother complex makes a daring break from prison and leads his old gang in a chemical plant payroll heist. Shortly after the plan takes place, events take a crazy turn

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: James Cagney, Virginia Mayo, Edmond O'Brien
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A priest tries to stop a gangster from corrupting a group of street kids.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: James Cagney, Pat O'Brien, Humphrey Bogart
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Three men attempt to make a living in Prohibitionist America after returning home from fighting together in World War I.

Director: Raoul Walsh
Stars: James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, Priscilla Lane
Scarface (1932)
Certificate: Passed Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An ambitious and near insanely violent gangster climbs the ladder of success in the mob, but his weaknesses prove to be his downfall.

Directors: Howard Hawks, Richard Rosson
Stars: Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, Karen Morley
Smart Money (1931)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Immigrant Greek barber has uncommon skills in playing poker and soon rises in the seedy world of illegal gambling, but pretty blondes remain his Achilles' heel.

Director: Alfred E. Green
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, Evalyn Knapp
'G' Men (1935)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

It's the early days of the F.B.I. - federal agents working for the Department of Justice. Though they've got limited powers - they don't carry weapons and have to get local police approval ... See full summary »

Director: William Keighley
Stars: James Cagney, Margaret Lindsay, Ann Dvorak
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Events take an unhappy turn for two Bill and Jack, two locomotive engineers, after Bill is attracted to his best friend's wife.

Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: Grant Withers, Mary Astor, Regis Toomey
Biography | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A film of the life of the renowned musical composer, playwright, actor, dancer and singer George M. Cohan.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Wrongly convicted James Allen serves in the intolerable conditions of a southern chain gang, which later comes back to haunt him.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Paul Muni, Glenda Farrell, Helen Vinson
Certificate: Passed Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Lou Ricarno is a smart guy. His plan is to organize the various gangs in Chicago so that the mugs will not liquidate each other. WIth the success of his leadership, Louie prospers, marries ... See full summary »

Director: Archie Mayo
Stars: Lew Ayres, James Cagney, Charles Judels
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A waitress, a hobo and a bank robber get mixed up at a lonely diner in the desert.

Director: Archie Mayo
Stars: Leslie Howard, Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis
Edit

Cast

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

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:

See all certifications »
Edit

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
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The scene where Tom shoots the horse that threw and killed Sam "Nails" Nathan in a riding accident was based on an actual incident. In 1924 Sam "Nails" Morton, a member of Charles Dion O'Bannion's gang, was thrown from his horse and killed while riding in Chicago's Lincoln Park. Other members of the gang, led by Louis "Two Gun" Alteri, kidnapped the horse, took it to the spot where the accident occurred and shot it dead. Source: Carl Sifakis, "Encyclopedia Of American Crime." See more »

Goofs

In the scene where Tom Powers and Matt Doyle are strafed by assassin's machine guns, we see Cagney ducking behind the corner of a building. Bullets suddenly and violently hit and tear up the concrete corner into big pock-marked chips an eye-blink after he ducks. But in subsequent shots, the machine gun damage to the concrete is gone. See more »

Quotes

Tom Powers: Why that dirty, no good, yellow-bellied stool. I'm gonna give it to him right in the head the first time I see him.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: James Cagney (1961) See more »

Soundtracks

I Surrender Dear
(1931) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Barris
Played in Gwen's apartment
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
As a tsunami, nothing was able to stop Cagney once he was aroused, and no one even thought to try…

"Public Enemy" brought two things to the screen: the little tough guy, fast-talking, unscrupulous gangster characterization by James Cagney which was to follow him throughout his entire screen career, and the grapefruit scene…

Though "Public Enemy" created the Cagney image, he had already appeared in two other gangsters films for Warners, as a murderer prepared to let someone else pay for his crime in "Sinner's Holiday," and as a double-crossing hoodlum in "Doorway to Hell."

"Public Enemy," however, was a bigger-budget production, directed by William Wellman, and it contained all the elements of success… It is the story of two brothers who become Chicago booze barons in the Twenties... One was Cagney, the other Edward Woods…

It is sometimes claimed that the story of "Public Enemy" is based on that of "Little Hymie" Weiss, leader of the North Side Chicago gang after the murder of Dion O'Banion by the Capones in 1924… What is more likely is that the Cagney characterization is based on "Little Hymie"; the plot itself is pure fiction…

When Cagney, in his striped pajama, sat opposite Mae Clarke at breakfast and decided he had had enough of this boring broad, he wasted no time… He picked up half a grapefruit and planted it full into Clarke's face… It was a piece of screen action which has lasted down the years as the ultimate in violence from the gangster to his moll…

Of course, it isn't – it just seems that way… Since then gir1s have been slapped, kicked, beaten up, run over, shot, stabbed and raped, all in the tradition of mobster violence…

But at the time this scene was daring, and the more daring because it was totally unexpected… We remember Mae Clarke in "Public Enemy," yet forget that Jean Harlow was in it, too… There may have been good reason… The New York Times, reviewing the film in 1934, commented: "The acting throughout is interesting, with the exception of Jean Harlow, who essays the role of a gangster's mistress."

Cagney made violence and a life of crime magically seductive, and "Public Enemy" made him Warners' number 2 gangster, second only to Edward G. Robinson…


42 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
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
Clockwork Orange steals a scene! KubricksSeal
No dvd of this one? feilertsen
Discuss The Public Enemy (1931) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page