The Public Enemy (1931)

on April 23, 1931 by BOXOFFICE Staff
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Classic Reviews This picture requires lively short subjects to brighten up the program a bit, for there is no comedy relief, and it will cast a depressing mood over the audience unless entertaining shorts are run in conjunction with the picture.
   The story is absolutely serious from start to finish and was meant to be taken seriously by the audience. Unlike other gangster pictures, it shows nothing deliberate or smart on the part of the gangsters to provoke the audience to laughter. Neither does it bring politics or bribes into the picture at all. This is not for children for, although it is a good moral picture, they will not understand it. The gangsters are not paraded as fantastic figures, neither do they represent certain persons or characters but show conditions as they actually exist today; and portrays the basis for the life of crime which the gangsters lead. The story opens with the early childhood of two boys, who, through bad associates, are taught the game early in life, starting as petty thieves. After the World War and after the Volstead Act goes into effect, the two men now grown become beer racketeers, and consequently immensely rich. They are powerful figures in the racket business and force speakeasies to buy their beer or take the consequences. Rival gangs appear and one by one lose their lives at the hands of their competitive racketeers.
   It is not a picture for small towns, but should be a success in large towns and cities. There is a lesson and daring truth in the picture, and we believe it was meant to awaken honest citizens to the gangster tyranny prevalent in large cities today.

Reel Journal, May, 1931 Warner Bros. 83 mins.

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