The Public Enemy

Watch The Public Enemy

  • Passed
  • 1931
  • 1 hr 24 min
  • 7.6  (22,634)
  • 80

The Public Enemy is a classic gangster film from 1931 that has left an indelible mark on American cinema. Directed by William A. Wellman, it stars James Cagney as Tom Powers, a young hoodlum rising up the ranks of the Chicago underworld during Prohibition. Alongside his best friend Matt Doyle (played by Edward Woods), Tom is involved in racketeering, bootlegging, and other illegal activities to earn money and power.

The movie opens with a scene of Tom and Matt as young boys, stealing and causing mischief in their neighborhood. As they grow older, their misdeeds become more serious, and they eventually become involved with a criminal organization run by Nails Nathan (Leslie Fenton). Tom quickly rises through the ranks due to his cunning and ruthless nature, becoming a well-known figure in the city's criminal underworld.

However, Tom's criminal activities have serious consequences, and he finds himself increasingly at odds with the authorities. He faces opposition from both the police and rival gangs, and his actions eventually lead to tragedy for himself and those around him.

Jean Harlow plays Tom's feisty girlfriend, Kitty, who is drawn into the criminal activities and struggles to come to terms with the violence and danger. She brings a touch of feminine energy to the film, providing a stark contrast to the masculine aggression of the gangster world.

One of the most iconic scenes in the movie is when Tom confronts a rival gangster and shoves a grapefruit in his face. The scene is both shocking and humorous, and has become one of the most famous moments in American cinema.

The Public Enemy is a gritty and realistic portrayal of the criminal underworld in 1930s America. It pulls no punches in depicting the violence and brutality of this world, and its depiction of gangsters as ruthless and immoral was shocking at the time. James Cagney's performance as Tom Powers is nothing short of unforgettable - he brings a raw energy and intensity to the role that is unparalleled. His portrayal of the ruthless gangster paved the way for a whole genre of mob movies that would follow.

The movie also serves as a powerful commentary on the social and economic conditions of the time. The Prohibition era had led to an increase in organized crime, as gangs sought to profit from the illegal sale of alcohol. The film captures the desperation and corruption of this period, as well as the societal inequalities that contributed to it.

Overall, The Public Enemy is a classic film that continues to captivate audiences almost a century after its release. Its brutal honesty, powerful performances, and evocative depiction of a bygone era make it a true masterpiece of American cinema.

The Public Enemy is a 1931 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 24 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6 and a MetaScore of 80.

The Public Enemy
Where to Watch The Public Enemy
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 24 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.6  (22,634)
  • Metascore