movie film review | chris tookey
 
     
     
 

Public Enemy / Enemies Of The Public


© Warner Bros. - all rights reserved
     
  Public Enemy  / Enemies Of The Public Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
 
Average Rating
8.50 /10
 
Starring
James Cagney , Edward Woods, Jean Harlow
Full Cast >
 

Directed by: William Wellman
Written by: Harvey Thew, from a story by Kubec Glasmon, John Bright


 
 
 
Released: 1931
   
Genre: THRILLER
IMPORTANT
CRIME
   
Origin: US
   
Colour: BW
   
Length: 84
 
 


 
Slum kids become gangsters (James Cagney, Edward Woods) but find that crime never pays.
Reviewed by Chris Tookey

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Until two days before shooting, Cagney was going to play the good guy, and Woods the anti-hero. Then the roles were reversed, and Wellman’s film started Cagney on the road to stardom. The new emphasis on sex, violence and the brutality of the streets turns this into a seminal gangster movie - but time has made it much less shocking and effective. Cagney remains very powerful, but some of the supporting performances are far from great. A few scenes are unpleasantly exploitative and misogynistic (notably the one pictured, where Cagney presses a grapefruit into Mae Clarke’s face). Far from deglamourising mobsters (Warner Brothers' stated intention), the film made it look as though being a gangster meant having a hell of a good time.


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