"Public Enemies: The Golden Age of the Gangster Film" is an extensive look at the gangster film from the very early days of the silents and follows its evolution through the Depression, World War II and beyond. And of course, no gangster film documentary would be complete without the genre's great stars, shown in various scenes and in one amusing outtake: Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, Humphrey Bogart, George Raft, and Paul Muni.
"Public Enemies" demonstrates what a great match Warner Brothers was for this particular type of film and talks about some of the producers and directors influential in getting these movies onto the screen: Darryl F. Zanuck, Jack Warner, William Wellman, Raoul Walsh, Michael Curtiz.
It's a fascinating look at the effect that various happenings had on the gangster movie: the advent of sound, Prohibition, the Hayes Code, the Depression, WW II, interest in psychiatry, and the documentary gets into the melding of the crime film with the film noir. There are interviews with authors and film critics like Leonard Maltin and Molly Haskell, but also old interviews with Edward G. Robinson, Virginia Mayo, Joan Leslie, Raoul Walsh, William Wellman, and Joan Blondell that are great to see.
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