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If you crossed a gangster and a garbage man,


what would you have?


Organised grime.




I've got a fetish for British gangster films.

So here I am - cock, sock and 1 smoking barrel.



The wife tells people,


"My son was just another mixed up kid who died in

the hood."

He wasn't a gangster...

The thick twat put his cagoule on back to front

and suffocated.




The cops in our town are looking for a guy who keeps pooping on people’s yards at night.

The police are calling him Public Enemy Number Two.


tom powers james cagney

 THE PUBLIC ENEMY Movie Trailer 












The Public Enemy james cagney


This article is about the 1931 film. The Public Enemy (released

as Enemies of the Public in the United Kingdom) is a 1931

American all-talking  Pre-Code crime film  produced and

distributed by Warner Bros.. The film was directed by William A.

Wellman and stars James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Edward

Woods, Donald Cook, and Joan Blondell. The film relates the

story of a young man's rise in the criminal underworld in

prohibition-era urban America. The supporting players include

Beryl Mercer, Murray Kinnell, and Mae Clarke. The screenplay

is based on a never- published novel by two former street thugs—Beer and Blood by John

Bright and Kubec Glasmon—who had witnessed some of Al Capone's murderous gang

rivalries in Chicago.


As youngsters, Tom Powers (James Cagney) and his lifelong friend Matt Doyle (Edward

Woods) engage in petty theft, selling their loot to  "Putty Nose"  (Murray Kinnell). When the

pair are young men, Putty Nose persuades them to join his gang on a fur warehouse

robbery, assuring them he will take care of them if anything goes wrong. When Tom is

startled by a stuffed bear, he shoots it, alerting the police, who kill gang member Larry

Dalton. Chased by a cop, Tom and Matt have to gun him down. However, when they go to

Putty Nose for help, they find he has left town.


Tom's straitlaced older brother Mike (Donald Cook) tries, but fails, to talk Tom into giving up

crime. Tom keeps his activities secret from his doting mother (Beryl Mercer).  When America 

 enters World War I in 1917,  Mike enlists in the Marines.


In 1920, with  Prohibition  about to go into effect, Paddy Ryan (Robert Emmett O'Connor) recruits Tom and Matt as beer "salesmen" (enforcers) in his bootlegging business. He allies himself with noted gangster Samuel "Nails" Nathan (Leslie Fenton). As the bootlegging business becomes ever more lucrative, Tom and Matt flaunt their wealth.

james cagney tom powers public enemy
the public enemy poster





Mike finds out that his brother's money comes not from politics, as Tom claims, but from  bootlegging,  and declares that Tom's success is based on nothing more than "beer and blood"  (the title of the book upon which the film is based). Tom retorts in disgust:

                          "Your hands ain't so clean. You killed and liked it. You didn't get them medals for holding hands with them                                                Germans."


                                        Tom and Matt acquire girlfriends, Kitty (an uncredited  Mae Clarke ) and Mamie (Joan Blondell)                                                 respectively. Tom eventually tires of Kitty; in a famous scene, when she complains once too often,                                             he pushes half a grapefruit into her face. He then drops her for Gwen Allen (Jean Harlow), a                                                      woman with a self-confessed weakness for bad men. At a restaurant on the night of Matt's wedding                                          reception to Mamie, Tom and Matt recognise Putty Nose and follow him home. Begging for his life,                                            Putty plays a song on the piano that he had entertained Tom and Matt with when they were kids.                                                Tom shoots him in the back.


                                        Tom gives his mother a large wad of money, but Mike rejects the gift. Tom tears up the banknotes                                              and throws them in his brother's face. "Nails" Nathan dies in a horse riding accident, prompting                                                  Tom to find the horse and shoot it. A rival gang headed by "Schemer" Burns takes advantage of the                                          disarray resulting from Nathan's death, precipitating  a gang war. 


                                        Later, Matt is gunned down in public, with Tom narrowly escaping the same fate. Furious, Tom                                                    takes it upon himself to single-handedly settle scores with Burns and some of his men. Tom is                                                    seriously wounded in the shootout, and ends up in the hospital. When his mother, brother and                                                    Matt's sister Molly come to see him, he reconciles with Mike and agrees to reform. However, Paddy                                          warns Mike that Tom has been kidnapped by the Burns mob from the hospital. Later, his dead body                                          is returned to the Powers home.


                                        The screenplay which was written by  Harvey F. Thew  was based on a novel which was never                                                  published called Beer and Blood, by John Bright and Kubec Glasmon. Bright and Glasmon based                                              their novel on actual people, having witnessed some of Al Capone's murderous gang rivalries in                                                Chicago. Warner Brothers studio head Darryl F. Zanuck bought the rights to the novel and                                                          assigned director William A. Wellman to direct the film. Wellman, who had served in World War I                                                like the brother of the main character, told Zanuck:

                                                                                                                        "I'll bring you the toughest, most violent picture                                              you ever did see".


 Edward Woods  was originally cast in the lead role of Tom Powers and James Cagney was cast as  Tom's best friend Matt Doyle, until director Wellman decided Cagney would be more effective in the part and switched the two actors but never re-shot the sequences with the characters as children, which is why the child playing Cagney's role looks like Woods while the one playing Woods' role looks like Cagney. Another reason for the switch is that the sound technology used in The Public Enemy was superior to that used in earlier films, making it no longer imperative to have an actor in the lead role who had impeccable enunciation. Although it was still a risk giving Cagney the starring role, his distinctive interpretation of the character, especially his machine-gun speaking style, was now technically feasible. Cagney was also short and seemed uncouth, compared to the typical finesse of a more conventionally cinegenic actor like Woods, helping to establish Warner Brothers' reputation for film that explicitly targeted working class audiences during the Great Depression. At the time of the role switch, Woods was promised by the studio that it would be made up to him with later assignments, but this was never followed through and Woods subsequently fell into obscurity.


 Spear of Destiny 

 Never take me Alive 



Louise Brooks was the original choice for Gwen Allen, a woman with

self-confessed weakness for bad men. She refused the role, which

went to a much younger actress,  Jean Harlow.  name was in studio

records casting call lists playing "Bess" in this movie, but she and

her character, did not appear. Tom's first girlfriend Kitty was played

by Mae Clarke, who was unaccredited. Kitty is eventually dropped

by Tom for Gwen after he pushes half a grapefruit into her face, the

most famous scene in the movie. The same year, Clarke starred in

the classic Universal horror movie Frankenstein, starring Boris

Karloff. She played the bride of Dr. Frankenstein (played by Colin

Clive), who is killed by the monster played by Karloff.


 Joan Blondell  played Mamie, Matt's girlfriend. She had already

worked with Cagney in Sinners' Holiday (1930) and would work with

him on two films which also came out this year:

                                                                          God's Gift in Women

and Blonde Crazy. Other films that they worked together on were

The Crowd Roars (1932), Footlight Parade (1933) and He Was Her

Man (1934). Cagney once said that Blondell was the only woman he

loved besides his wife. Donald Cook played Tom's brother, Mike.


Filming took place in January and February 1931, with a small

budget of $151,000. During filming, Cagney also made Smart

Money, co-starring  Edward G. Robinson,  who had finished his

break through film Little Caesar.


In the scene where Mike Powers punches his brother Tom, Wellman privately took  Donald Cook  aside and explaining his desire for authenticity in Tom's reaction, asked the actor to really hit Cagney. Cook played his part a bit too well, and he

struck Cagney in the mouth with such force, he actually broke one of Cagney's teeth. Yet in spite of his genuine shock and pain, Cagney stayed in character and played out the rest of the scene. In another incident, live ammunition was used in a scene where Tom Powers ducks around the corner of a building to take cover from machine gun fire; the use of live ammunition was common practice at the time. The bullets struck the wall of the building at the position where Cagney's head had been just a moment prior.


A controversial scene in which Tom (James Cagney) angrily smashes a half grapefruit into his girlfriend's face (Mae Clarke). In a 1973 interview featured in the Turner Classic Movies documentary, The Men Who Made The Movies:

                                                                                                                                                                        William Wellman,  Wellman said he added the grapefruit "hitting" to the scene, because when he and his wife at the time would get into fights, she would never talk or give any expression. Since she always had a grapefruit for breakfast, he always wanted to put the grapefruit into her face just to get a reaction out of her, so she would show some emotion; he felt that this scene gave him the opportunity to rid himself of that temptation.


Some, such as film critic  Ben Mankiewicz,  have asserted that Mae Clarke's surprised and seemingly somewhat angry reaction to the grapefruit was genuine, as she hadn't been told to expect the unscripted action. However, in her autobiography, Clarke stated that Cagney had told her prior to that take what he planned to do. She said that her only

genuine surprise came later, when she saw the grapefruit take of the scene appear in the final film, as it had been her understanding that they were shooting it only as a joke to amuse the crew.


According to Cagney, Clarke's ex-husband had the grapefruit scene timed, and would buy a ticket just before that scene went on screen, go enjoy the scene, leave, then come back during the next show just in time to see only that scene again.


The film featured a prologue "apprising the audience that the  hoodlums  and terrorists of the underworld must be exposed and the glamour ripped from them" and an epilogue "pointing the moral that civilization is on her knees and inquiring loudly as to what is to be done." At the film's premiere in New York City, the film's prologue was preceded by a "brief stage tableau, with sinuous green lighting, which shows a puppet gangster shooting another puppet gangster in the back."


The soundtrack included the following songs:

                                                                       "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles"

                                                                       "Hesitation Blues"

                                                                       "Toot Toot Tootsie (Goodbye)"

                                                                       "Maple Leaf Rag"

                                                                       "Brighten the Corner Where

                                                                       You Are"


                                                                        "I Surrender Dear


                                                                       The music was performed by

                                                                       the Vitaphone Orchestra, led

                                                                       by conductor David Mendoza.                      


While exact box figures are not available, The Public Enemy earned nearly

seven times its production costs ($151,000), making it the 9th highest

grossing film of 1931.


On Rotten Tomatoes, all 26 of the critics reviewing the film gave it a "Fresh" rating. Andre Sennwald, who reviewed the film

for The New York Times upon its April 1931 release, called it "just another gangster film at the Strand, weaker than most in its story, stronger than most in its acting, and, like most, maintaining a certain level of interest through the last burst of machine-gun fire"; Woods and Cagney give "remarkably lifelike portraits of young hoodlums" and " Beryl Mercer  as Tom's mother, Robert Emmett O'Connor as a gang chief, and Donald Cook as Tom's brother, do splendidly." Time magazine called The Public Enemy "well-told" and noted "Unlike City Streets, this is not a Hugoesque fable of gangsters fighting among themselves, but a documentary drama of the bandit standing against society. It carries to its ultimate absurdity the fashion for romanticizing gangsters, for even in defeat the public enemy is endowed with grandeur." Variety called it "low-brow material given such workmanship as to make it high-brow" which attempts to "square everything [with] a foreword and postscript moralizing on the gangster as a menace to the public welfare."


A theatre in Times Square ran The Public Enemy 24 hours a day during its initial release. At the 4th Academy Awards, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Story, losing to The Dawn Patrol.


In 1989, an animatronics version of a scene from The Public Enemy was incorporated into The Great Movie Ride at the Disney-MGM Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida. In 1998, The Public Enemy was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 2003 the character of Tom Powers was among the AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains, placing 42nd in the villain list. In 2008, the film appeared on one of the AFI's 10 Top 10 lists—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres. The Public Enemy was listed as the eighth best in the gangster film genre.




cody jarrett surrenders

 The Public Enemy (1931): 

 Cagney Gives 

 a Bang Up Performance. 



The film was re-released in 1941 after the Production Code was put into effect. Three scenes from the film were cut because of the Code. One is of a markedly effeminate tailor measuring Tom for a suit, another with Matt and Mamie "rolling around" in bed, and the third showing Tom being seduced when hiding out in a woman's apartment. These three scenes were later restored for all DVD and  Blu-ray releases, and on Turner Classic Movies.


The film was also re-released in 1954, with a written prologue added before

the opening credits, advising that gangsters such as Tom Powers and Caesar

"Rico" Bandello, the title character in Little Caesar (played by Edward G.

Robinson), are a menace that the public must confront.


 The Public Enemy (1931) Quotes 


Tom Powers: Why that dirty, no good, yellow-bellied stool. I'm gonna give it to

him right in the head the first time I see him.


Tom Powers: Hiding behind Ma's skirts, like always.

Mike Powers: Better than hiding behind a machine gun.


Tom Powers: Hello baby. What are you gonna have?

Kitty: Anything you say, big boy.

Tom Powers: You're a swell dish. I think I'm going to go for you.


Tom Powers: So beer ain't good enough for you, huh?

Mike Powers: Do you think I care if there was just beer in that keg? I know

what's in it. I know what you've been doing all this time, how you got those

clothes and those new cars. You've been telling Ma that you've gone into

politics, that you're on the city payroll. Pat Burke told me everything. You

murderers! There's not only beer in that jug. There's beer and blood - blood

of men!

Mike: throws the keg into the corner, smashing Mrs Powers' table and causing a racket.

Tom Powers: [Stands] You ain't changed a bit. [Tom walks away, but turns for the last word]. Besides, your hands ain't so clean. You killed and liked it. You didn't get them medals for holding hands with them Germans.


 James Cagney was probably the most hardcore Gangster on film and gave one of his   best lines in the film The Public Enemy when he bragged, 

 "You'll never take me alive,  copper." 

 I'm forever blowing bubbles Pretty bubbles in the air 

public enemy james cagney
public enemy machine gun
james cagney revolvers

 The material on this site does not necessarily reflect the views of What If? Tees. 

 The Images and Text are not meant to offend but to Promote Positive Open Debate and Free Speech. 

 The material on this site does not reflect the views of What If? Tees. 

 The Images and Text are not meant to offend but to Promote Positive Open Debate and Free Speech. 

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