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Public Enemies (1996)

Glorified and glamourized fact-based tale of Ma Barker and her boys who robbed banks and generally terrorized the Midwest in the 1930's and was eventually gunned down by g-man, Melvin ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Leah Best ... Young Kate Clarke
Chip Heller ... Mr. Clarke
... Kate 'Ma' Barker
... George Barker
... Paymaster
Brent O'Plotnik ... Herman Barker at 11 years
Trevor Meeks ... Lloyd Barker at 10 years
... Herman Barker (as Joseph Lindsey)
... Lloyd Barker (as Joseph Dain)
... Doc Barker
... Freddie Barker
Terry D. Seago ... Tall Sheriff
... J. Edgar Hoover
... Melvin Purvis
... Sam Cowley
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Storyline

Glorified and glamourized fact-based tale of Ma Barker and her boys who robbed banks and generally terrorized the Midwest in the 1930's and was eventually gunned down by g-man, Melvin Purvis. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

No one could stop them.

Genres:

Drama | Thriller | Crime

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence, some sex scenes, drug use and language | See all certifications »
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Release Date:

19 April 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Public Enemy No. 1  »

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Kathy Bates was originally cast in Theresa Russell's role. See more »

Goofs

The final shootout between Ma Barker and Melvin Purvis is captioned to have occurred in Lake "Wier" when in fact the location is near Lake Weir. See more »

Quotes

Kate "Ma" Barker: You said, "Dead by Christmas." Is that the kind of chance you're talking about?
Melvin Purvis: You can't believe everything you read in the papers. I'm the F.B.I., not a bounty hunter.
Herman Barker: No difference.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Tremendous wast of talent.
8 April 2006 | by See all my reviews

It's too kind to call this a "fictionalized" account of the Barker gang. They got the names right, but that's about it.

Russell is still hot, I'll grant you that, but this is not the real Ma Barker, who basically took care of the boys by cooking and assisting when they moved around the country, not by planning or participating in the crimes. I think it would have been far more interesting to present the real story of a middle-aged woman caught up in the criminal activities of her children and their cronies.

I also have to agree with those reviewers who found the shoot-out scenes to be totally unbelievable. The Barker/Karpis victims were a combination of the innocent and of the law-enforcement agents who pursued them, but they definitely did not mow down half-a-dozen FBI agents every time they were cornered. (On the other hand, as several recent books have related, the FBI of that era emphasized the idea of agents coming only from legal or accounting backgrounds to the extent that many agents had very little law enforcement or firearms experience. They were not the well-trained agents that we picture today.)

But the worst sin of all is that the movie is basically a bore. Nobody changes, nobody grows. We know the end of the road is ahead, we just don't know which shoot-out it will be.

Only for die-hard Russell fans.


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