7.7/10
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The Public Enemy (1931)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama | 15 May 1931 (USA)
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:

William A. Wellman

Writers:

Kubec Glasmon (by), John Bright (by) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
James Cagney ... Tom Powers
Jean Harlow ... Gwen Allen
Edward Woods ... Matt Doyle
Joan Blondell ... Mamie
Donald Cook ... Mike Powers
Leslie Fenton ... Samuel 'Nails' Nathan
Beryl Mercer ... Ma Powers
Robert Emmett O'Connor ... Paddy Ryan (as Robert O'Connor)
Murray Kinnell ... Putty Nose
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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:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 May 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Beer and Blood See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Brunswick Radios Used Exclusively)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final film of Snitz Edwards. He was suffering from the effects of cirrhosis of the liver and rheumatoid arthritis during filming and some of his scenes were given to another actor. See more »

Goofs

The "Foreword" mentions that the movie is to depict "a certain strata of American life." "Strata" is the plural form or "stratum." The phrase should have been written "a certain stratum of American life." See more »

Quotes

Putty Nose: We ain't sore are you, Tom? I've always been your friend.
Tom Powers: Sure, you taught us how to cheat, steal and kill. And then you lambed out on us.
Matt Doyle: Yeah, if it hadn't been for you, we might have been on the level.
Tom Powers: Sure. We might have been ding-dings on a streetcar. Come on...
See more »

Crazy Credits

It is the ambition of the authors of "The Public Enemy" to honestly depict the environment that exists today in a certain strata of American life, rather than glorify the hoodlum or the criminal. While the story of "The Public Enemy" is essentially a true story, all names and characters appearing herein, are fictional. See more »


Soundtracks

Toot, Toot, Tootsie (Goo' Bye!)
(1922) (uncredited)
Written by Gus Kahn, Ernie Erdman and Dan Russo
Dance music played in hotel
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Cagney Makes This One Of The Best Classic Era Crime Movies Ever
21 October 2006 | by ccthemovieman-1See all my reviews

Once again, Jimmy Cagney struts his stuff.....and makes a big name for himself in the very early part of his acting career. He clearly demonstrates that he is a man who take over any scene and dominate it, and the film.

Hollywood found this out in making this film. It is said that Cagney's role was originally much smaller in here but he was so good the script was changed to give him the starring spot....and his career took off from there.

Speaking of billing and stardom, Jean Harlow gets second billing in this film but really has only a bit part; Blondell gets fourth billing has only a few lines.

The story is a fast-mover and the movie is over in less than an hour-and-a-half. The cinematography in here is excellent and DVD really brings that out.

The famous "grapefruit scene" with Cagney shoving the fruit in Mae Clark's face wasn't that big a deal back then and the scene happens so fast you almost miss it.

For me, a highlight of the show was simply the facial expressions on Cagney. At the end of the movie, as he stands in the pouring rain getting ready to go in and kill people, his expression is downright scary - a very powerful scene.

The ending of this movie is memorable, too. In all the film may be dated but it still very, very watchable and one of the great crime movies of all time.


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