The Public Enemy
The Public Enemy (1931)

William Wellman's landmark gangster movie traces the rise and fall of prohibition-era mobster Tom Powers. We are first shown various episodes of Tom's childhood with the corrupting influences of the beer hall, pool parlor, and false… More

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Rated: Unrated
Running Time:
Release Date: April 23, 1931
DVD Release Date: September 11, 2001
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Critic Score: 100% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews
Variety Staff

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.

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James Evans

1931's The Public Enemy is still at this stage one of the best gangster films ever made.

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Josh Larsen

Crime may not pay, but The Public Enemy was one of the first pictures to recognize that it sure can be exciting to watch.

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Geoff Andrew
Time Out

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.

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Donald J. Levit
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

In spite of woodenness, creakiness in plot, and unintentional humor in printed piety, ' The Public Enemy,' a film of its time, was a sensation at that time, and is still not to be missed today.

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Steve Crum

Top notch Cagney gangster flick with memorable final scene.

Dave Kehr
Chicago Reader

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.

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Emanuel Levy

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.

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Dennis Schwartz
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The film's juiciest scene has the misogynist Tom squeeze a half a grapefruit in his nagging girlfriend Kitty's (Mae Clarke) kisser.

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More reviews for The Public Enemy

Flixster Audience Score: 84% Flixster User Reviews
xGary Xx
James Cagney's breaking role sees him as one of the original "hoodlums", tracing his steps from young tearaway to enforcer during the prohibition… More
danny d
this a a pretty decent flick. not as engaging or profound as many of the early gangster films were, but cagney was great as always and the movie had its bright… More
Aj V
Typical gangster story, predictable, but with an unexpected ending.
Ken Stachnik
Watch Jimmy Cagney and Jean Harlow do something amazing with a grapefruit. *snicker*
Lady D'arbanville
I am a fan of Jimmy Cagney and this one seems to be one of his very early works. Quite typical of the mob style films of it?s time, but for me not enough… More
Stella Dallas
cagney embarks on a life of crime and his presence cannot be denied. his breakout performance here burns right through the screen. harlow still needs some… More