The Public Enemy | film by Wellman [1931]


The Public Enemy, American gangster film, released in 1931, that became a classic and propelled its lead, James Cagney, to stardom. The story traces the life of an impoverished young man, Tom Powers (played by Cagney), as he escalates from being a petty criminal to heading a murderous bootlegging ring. Although he achieves tremendous power, he is haunted by family conflicts and a sense of overconfidence that ultimately ends in tragedy. Jean Harlow played the small but memorable role of Cagney’s glamorous moll. As with the crime film Little Caesar (1931), The Public Enemy was a reflection of its era



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