movie film review | chris tookey

Public Enemy / Enemies Of The Public

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  Public Enemy  / Enemies Of The Public Review
Tookey's Rating
6 /10
Average Rating
8.50 /10
James Cagney , Edward Woods, Jean Harlow
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Directed by: William Wellman
Written by: Harvey Thew, from a story by Kubec Glasmon, John Bright

Released: 1931
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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