The Public Enemy showcases James Cagney's powerful 1931 breakthrough performance as streetwise tough guy Tom Powers, but only because production chief Darryl F. Zanuck made a late casting change. When shooting began, Cagney had a secondary role but Zanuck soon spotted Cagney's screen dominance and gave him the star part. From that moment, an indelible genre classic and an enduring star career were both born. Bristling with '20s style, dialogue and desperation under the masterful directorial eye of William A. Wellman, this is a virtual time capsule of the Prohibition era: taut, gritty and hard-hitting.
Great James Cagney Gangster Flick
- The Public Enemy review by EP
This is an old film and it shows, some of the acting isn't that great either, but the dialogue is the epitome of the era "please don't slug me" etc haha and it is one of the first films where you end up rooting for the bad guy. Films like this probably influenced Tarrantino, it must have been pretty shocking at the time, anyhow Cagney is in usual shouty form and there's loads of old school gangster action, some of the story is a bit not believable but the ending is great - shocking and weirdly funny too.
Not one for people who like modern films but I really enjoyed this old time gangster stuff. Grab a brew and some pretzels and enjoy.