The Public Enemy
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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"There's no lace on this picture. It's raw and brutal. It's low-brow material given such workmanship as to make it high-brow."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"This early sound film, which made a star of James Cagney, remains one of the most influential crime-gangster films ever made, establishing the basic narrative format of the popular genre."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"The film's juiciest scene has the misogynist Tom squeeze a half a grapefruit in his nagging girlfriend Kitty's (Mae Clarke) kisser."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"The implication is that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of guys like Tom Powers, little criminals living fast and dying hard."
‑ Philip Martin, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
" was Cagney's film from beginning to end, to win or to lose, and he came out one of the biggest winners in Hollywood."
‑ John J. Puccio, Movie Metropolis
"Cagney's energy and Wellman's gutsy direction carry the day, counteracting the moralistic sentimentality of the script and indelibly etching the star on the memory as a definitive gangster hero."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"Crime may not pay, but The Public Enemy was one of the first pictures to recognize that it sure can be exciting to watch."
‑ Josh Larsen, LarsenOnFilm
"Still a classic of the gangster genre, showing neither glorifying the life nor pulling its punches."
‑ Jake Hamilton, Empire Magazine
"The film set the template for the likes of "Scarface" and "GoodFellas.""
‑ Phil Villarreal, Arizona Daily Star
"Overripe, rigid, and at times clunky ... and that's part of the enjoyment."
‑ Jay Antani,
"James Cagney's portrayal of a bootlegging runt is truly electrifying (he'd made five films, but this one made him a star), and Jean Harlow makes the tartiest tart imaginable."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Top notch Cagney gangster flick with memorable final scene."
‑ Steve Crum,
"Its success proved, if by then there was any doubt, that audiences will go for a charismatic lowlife over a dull hero any day of the week, a lesson Hollywood never forgot."
‑ Mark Bourne,
"Contrary to popular opinion, the best moment in the film isn't when Jimmy Cagney shoves a grapefruit in his girlfriend's face."
‑ Chris Barsanti, Slant Magazine
"One of the essential gangster films."
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
More reviews for The Public Enemy on Rotten Tomatoes