Author Topic: The Public Enemy (1931)  (Read 1608 times)

Offline Antares

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The Public Enemy (1931)
« on: June 06, 2010, 01:53:21 AM »
The Public Enemy

Year: 1931
Film Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Genre: Action, Drama, Classic
Length: 84 Min.

William A. Wellman (1896)

Kubec Glasmon (1889)...Writer
John Bright (1908)...Writer
Harvey F. Thew (1883)...Screen Adaptation

Darryl F. Zanuck (1902)

Devereaux Jennings (1884)

David Mendoza (1894)...Composer

James Cagney (1899) as Tom Powers
Jean Harlow (1911) as Gwen Allen
Edward Woods (1903) as Matt Doyle
Joan Blondell (1906) as Mamie
Donald Cook (1901) as Mike Powers
Leslie Fenton (1902) as Nails Nathan
Beryl Mercer (1882) as Ma Powers
Robert Emmett O'Connor (1885) as Paddy Ryan

       When it was released in 1931, The Public Enemy was considered a groundbreaking film in the new ‘gangster’ genre. But time has not been kind to this classic. Hollywood was still getting its feet wet in ‘talkies’ and a lot of the problems associated with the acting in silent films, creep into this picture. Melodramatic posturing pervades throughout this picture, and with the over the top dialogue delivery of most of the cast, the film now can appear comical and a little campy. The one bright exception is the emergence of a new actor who would be propelled to stardom with this film’s release, James Cagney. Unknown at the time, Cagney’s performance takes on a brilliance that casts a shadow over the rest of the supporting cast. His screen persona, his swagger, and all the little nuances of his portrayal completely dominate his co-actors and force you to keep your eyes on him when he is onscreen. The stardom that this film would bring to him was a double-edged sword for Cagney, as he would be type cast for the next decade as the gangster or tough guy in a series of successful gangster films, including The Roaring Twenties, Each Dawn I Die and Angels with Dirty Faces. Only with the release of Yankee Doodle Dandy in 1942 would he be able to shake his tough guy persona.

       If you are a fan of gangster flicks then I can recommend this film as a bit of film history and for Cagney’s breakthrough, otherwise a modern day audience might not appreciate this relic of the thirties. If you want to have a little fun, you can screen this movie as a double feature with the 1984 gangster comedy Johnny Dangerously with Michael Keaton and Peter Boyle, it’s easy to see which film their satire is based upon.

Review Criterion
5 Stars - The pinnacle of film perfection and excellence.
4 ½ Stars - Not quite an immortal film, yet a masterpiece in its own right.
4 Stars - Historically important film, considered a classic.
3 ½ Stars - An entertaining film that’s fun or engaging to watch.
3 Stars – A good film that’s worth a Netflix venture.
2 ½ Stars - Borderline viewable.
2 Stars – A bad film that may have a moment of interest.
1 ½ Stars – Insipid, trite and sophomoric, and that's its good points.
1 Star – A film so vacuous, it will suck 2 hours from the remainder of your life.
½ Star - A gangrenous and festering pustule in the chronicles of celluloid.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2010, 06:27:25 PM by Antares »