The Public Enemy

September 6, 2010

Wow, what a movie.

Made in 1931, The Public Enemy gives us the life of a mobster during the Depression Era. Sure, nowadays the “rise and fall” of a local “Wiseguy” seems almost as old as other movie cliches. But, think about when this movie, whose “protagonist” is a cocky, ruthless, cold-blooded, and brutal individual, was made. The 1930s! A time where the American Dream was nothing more than a nightmare for most Americans. The movie itself was violent, belittled women, and gave the whole world a glimpse of the life of a mobster.

Again, this was the same Era that brought about Tarzan, The Ape Man and Popeye, the Sailor Man.

And, of course, the film was met with criticism, namely scenes depicting offstage violence and the well-documented “Grapefruit Scene”-

But, at the same time, it was critically acclaimed. And why wouldn’t it be? This was Goodfellas (my favorite movie of ALL time) before Goodfellas. The acting was top-notch. James Cagney gives the performance he was born to do. He showed us the outer actions and the inner thoughts of a mobster at that time through his acting. Cagney gave us emotional outbursts and subtle actions that truly defines his character. I’m willing to say that the Academy completely did the man wrong not nominating him for Best Actor.

The Public Enemy was, without a doubt, one of the first true mobster movies. I hate to admit it, but I highly doubt Goodfellas would be what it is today if it weren’t for The Public Enemy.

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5 Responses to “The Public Enemy”

  1.   jbmedst144 said:

    I think that your right, without these original films like The Public Enemy we wouldn’t have such great gangster classics like Goodfellas. I think this film paved the way for movies where the audience ends up rooting for the bad guy.

  2.   Carlene Faith said:

    I completely agree with you and both I think a lot of the movies we watch in class are great examples of things that make movies the way they are today. Not only was this film remade but many of the ideas are in awesome modern gangster films. I also like the clip you choose cause I think it is a defining moment of the protagonists character. I really like what you had to say.

  3.   Carlene Faith said:

    (wasn’t logged in so reposting my comment to get the credit)
    I completely agree with you and both I think a lot of the movies we watch in class are great examples of things that make movies the way they are today. Not only was this film remade but many of the ideas are in awesome modern gangster films. I also like the clip you choose cause I think it is a defining moment of the protagonists character. I really like what you had to say.

  4.   IJ said:

    I also love Cagney’s performance. In fact, I think that it’s the main reason why the movie is so great. I don’t know if any other actor could have made this character as ruthless and, at the same time, so much fun.

  5.   resor said:

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