Monday, November 5, 2012


James Cagney plays a young buck who makes it big as a muscleman for a powerful Prohibition-era gangster.  His brother doesn't approve and his mother is in denial, but Cagney doesn't give a fuck cause all he wants is power, money and broads.

THE PUBLIC ENEMY has not aged well.  When it first came out in 1931 it was quite a shocker and made a ton of dough for Warner Bros., but watching now it just comes across as extremely dated.  The biggest problem is the slow pacing and the way the story is told.  Something about it seems out of wack.  It probably has to do with THE PUBLIC ENEMY being a semi-early talkie and a lot of the actors were quite new to the business.  Jean Harlow, who I usually love, was especially horrible.  She's fantastic in stuff like LIBELED LADY and DINNER AT EIGHT, but here she's very stiff and her line delivery was laughable.

From a film history point of view THE PUBLIC ENEMY is very much worth studying, but from just a entertainment standpoint I think most modern audiences should stay away.  If you need me, I'll be in my room watching WHITE HEAT.