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The Public Enemy
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The Public Enemy (1931) More at IMDbPro »

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The Public Enemy -- Oscar-winner James Cagney became a superstar with his gritty performance as a prohibition-era Irish-American street punk who tries to make it big in Chicago's organized crime world.

Overview

User Rating:
7.8/10   12,334 votes »
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Director:
Writers:
Kubec Glasmon (by) and
John Bright (by) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Public Enemy on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
23 April 1931 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 1 win See more »
User Reviews:
Great film from the beginnings of the gangster-movie-genre See more (100 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

James Cagney ... Tom Powers

Jean Harlow ... Gwen Allen
Edward Woods ... Matt Doyle

Joan Blondell ... Mamie
Donald Cook ... Mike Powers
Leslie Fenton ... Nails Nathan
Beryl Mercer ... Ma Powers
Robert Emmett O'Connor ... Paddy Ryan (as Robert O'Connor)
Murray Kinnell ... Putty Nose
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Clark Burroughs ... Dutch (uncredited)

Mae Clarke ... Kitty (uncredited)
Frank Coghlan Jr. ... Tom as a Boy (uncredited)
George Daly ... Machine Gunner (uncredited)

Frankie Darro ... Matt as a Boy (uncredited)
Snitz Edwards ... Miller (uncredited)
Rita Flynn ... Molly Doyle (uncredited)
Dorothy Gee ... Nails' Girl (uncredited)
Douglas Gerrard ... Assistant Tailor (uncredited)
Dorothy Gray ... Little Girl (uncredited)
Ben Hendricks Jr. ... 'Bugs' Moran as a Boy (uncredited)
Robert Homans ... Officer Pat Burke (uncredited)
Eddie Kane ... Joe - Headwaiter (uncredited)
Mia Marvin ... Jane (uncredited)
Sam McDaniel ... Headwaiter (uncredited)
Helen Parrish ... Little Girl (uncredited)
Lee Phelps ... Steve - Bartender (uncredited)
Russ Powell ... Bartender (uncredited)
Purnell Pratt ... Officer Powers (uncredited)
Nanci Price ... Little Girl (uncredited)
Landers Stevens ... Doctor (uncredited)
William H. Strauss ... Pawnbroker (uncredited)
Charles Sullivan ... Mug (uncredited)
Lucille Ward ... Larry Dalton's Weeping Mother (uncredited)
Adele Watson ... Mrs. Doyle (uncredited)

Directed by
William A. Wellman 
 
Writing credits
Kubec Glasmon (by) and
John Bright (by)

Harvey F. Thew (screen adaptation) (as Harvey Thew)

Produced by
Darryl F. Zanuck .... producer (uncredited)
 
Cinematography by
Devereaux Jennings (photography) (as Dev Jennings)
 
Film Editing by
Edward M. McDermott (edited by) (as Edw. M. McDermott)
 
Casting by
Rufus Le Maire (uncredited)
 
Art Direction by
Max Parker 
 
Costume Design by
Edward Stevenson (uncredited)
 
Makeup Department
Perc Westmore .... makeup artist (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Dolph Zimmer .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Stunts
Harvey Parry .... stunts (uncredited)
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Irving Glassberg .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Frank Kesson .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Nelson Laraby .... director of photography: additional photography (uncredited)
William Reinhold .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Al Roberts .... camera operator (uncredited)
William Schurr .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Harry L. Underwood .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Willard Van Enger .... camera operator (uncredited)
Robert H. Wagner .... camera operator (uncredited)
Sidney Wagner .... director of photography: second unit (uncredited)
Scotty Welbourne .... still photographer (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Earl Luick .... wardrobe
 
Music Department
David Mendoza .... conductor: Vitaphone Orchestra
David Mendoza .... composer: title music (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Dillingham .... production assistant (uncredited)
William Guthrie .... location manager (uncredited)
Newitt .... production assistant (uncredited)
Clem Peoples .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Rule .... production assistant (uncredited)
Whitmore .... production assistant (uncredited)
 
Crew verified as complete


Production Companies
  • Warner Bros. (present) (as a Warner Bros. Vitaphone Talking Picture)
Distributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
83 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Brunswick Radios Used Exclusively)
Certification:
Argentina:13 | Australia:PG | Brazil:14 | Canada:PG (video rating) | Finland:K-15 (2005) | Germany:12 | New Zealand:PG | Sweden:(Banned) | Sweden:15 (re-rating) (1977) | UK:A (cinema release) | UK:PG (video release)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
In the original script, James Cagney was to stuff an omelet into Mae Clarke's mouth instead of a grapefruit to the face.See more »
Goofs:
Anachronisms: The movie open with the year 1909. A few minutes into the film, Tom and his friend are scurrying up and down an escalator in a department store. Escalators only existed on paper in 1909 and were not in use until about 20 years later when the movie was made.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 »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
Maple Leaf RagSee more »

FAQ

Gun Cagney Uses---Did Bogart & Cliff Robertson Use Same Gun Later?
See more »
34 out of 38 people found the following review useful.
Great film from the beginnings of the gangster-movie-genre, 26 July 2005
Author: pzanardo (pzanardo@math.unipd.it) from Padova, Italy

"The Public Enemy" is one of the starting points of the great season of gangster movies, a very interesting work. It is not the story of the rise and fall of some big boss of crime. Tom Powers (James Cagney) and Matt Doyle (Edward Woods) are just small time crooks, and so they remain throughout the movie. Only, they make the big money that the circumstances of prohibition offer to any criminal. Tom is just a semi-illiterate, naturally violent thug. He is not even professional. He kills just out of stupidity or desire of a pointless revenge, that ultimately will severely damage himself. Further evidence of his cheap personality is shown when he instantly falls for the vulgar, tasteless girl Gwen (Jean Harlow). By the way, Harlow looks remarkably unattractive (to our modern eyes, at least). Was it a choice of director Wellmann? Matt is slightly better than Tom, but clearly he has not the guts to cross his mate.

In my opinion a major credit of the film is that it systematically avoids cliché. Neither Tom nor Matt are outcomes of poverty and social injustice. They come from simple but honest, decent and loving families. But they are both bad (that's the word) and they use the freedom and opportunities of their democratic country to make evil.

In "The Public Enemy" we find probably the first instances of the beautiful stylish cinematography and clever camera-work that will become the trade-mark of later gangster and noir movies. Some scenes are unforgettable, like the final one, or that under the rain, or that of Cagney abusing the girl. The brief scene of the killing of the horse is pure cinematic genius.

In the film there are also some naiveness and clumsiness, though. The way Tom undergoes the personality of his good brother is far-fetched. It is not clear why a gangster in a hospital, wounded in a gun-fight, is not under strict police control. The behavior of Tom's boss in the ending is illogical. Moreover, the part where Tom and Matt are kids is too long (we audience are all eager to see Cagney!), and action is a bit scarce for a gangster movie.

"The Public Enemy" was Cagney's breakout film, and really he makes a powerful and accurate job. Actually, a strong acting is provided by the whole cast. The director William A. Wellmann handles the movie with sound talent.

"The Public Enemy" is a beautiful and historically important movie. I recommend it to any cinema-lover

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Message Boards

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Recent Posts (updated daily)User
Bad Acting WardenGordonBorden
Finally! I got that Bugs Bunny Reference andrewsk8s
what if this movie was remade? infamousdave886
Clockwork Orange steals a scene! KubricksSeal
What was the last thing James Cagney Said?? mikehunt620
No dvd of this one? feilertsen
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