Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Public Enemy

A young street tough and his mate gradually work their way up from petty crime to calculated murder during the era of Prohibition. Going to work for an Irish mobster, and dallying in money, booze, and women, Tom Powers rises to his inevitable fall, fooling his poor dear mother and shaming his straightlaced brother. William A. Wellman's "The Public Enemy" is one of the early Warner Brothers gangster pictures and was the movie that made James Cagney known to the public. Cagney bristles with energy and ferocity here and brings immense likability to a truly detestable character (this is the one where he shoves the grapefruit in Mae Clarke's face). The story is gritty and highly influential as well (the opening of "Goodfellas" came to mind a lot while watching this). "The Public Enemy" is an exciting picture of a nasty individual and an attestation to the talents of a true screen legend.