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The Public Enemy

The movie The Public Enemy was adapted from the the book Beer and Blood by Bright and Glasmon.  This brilliant film was directed by William Wellman in 1931. I noticed that in the beginning of the film, it was scenes of a bar and kids were present. Wellman inserts the year to let us know of the gradual time lapse, where in 1909 we see kids stealing, drinking and spitting. The main characters Tommy and Matt are good buddies and grow up to be gangsters together. In 1915, the same kids were shown as teenagers and now we see them with guns. We even see them stealing and taking a cop’s life. A year later, in 1916, Tom’s  brother goes to the marine, and in 1920, people were going crazy for booze. This movie surrounds the idea of alcohol, and the gang’s desire to make money off the alcohol leads to rivalry and trouble. Throughout the film, I noticed a lot of mistreatment towards women through physical abuse. There is also a significant amount of violence like every typical “gang movie” you see, with the use of guns, bombs, and the killing of people. Although we don’t see the actual shot of the horse dying, there is a sense of torment and cruelty when Tommy shoots it in the stable. It’s quite obvious that Tommy has trouble with women, and it becomes a little too much to handle.  There is no suggestion of how to solve the “public enemy,” and till this day, most gangster films are related in some way or another, or may even have the same concept. The ending was very interesting to watch, because we see Tommy actually go home to his family, but in fact he’s dead.. and yet his mother is still just as oblivious to any thing as before. Wait until she sees how he’ll “playfully nudge” her in the face now… oh wait, that’s right. He can’t.

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~ by Avah Au-Yeung on September 14, 2011.

2 Responses to “The Public Enemy”

  1. Good blog, even though I do think you should do a little less summary of the movie and a little more analysis. For instance the abuse on women throughout the film like you noticed.. why do you think it was so acceptable and was allowed to be in a major film? Maybe because all the people behind the movie were men? Were they trying to portray a message through the abuse? I feel like in every gangster movie the main star, in this case, Tommy, has women problems. What’s wrong with these guys? Do gangsters only know how to reel the women in but not keep them around? Even though the women always come back in the movies to the one who treats them like crap, because they are portrayed as having no backbone and no say in anything. So sad, but good movie and blog. Keep it up.

  2. Thanks and yeah analysis wise, I do in fact need more of that. Some women in these films were portrayed as “easy” and I’m going to guess that is acceptable because for the most part of what they incorporate into movies is reality. Like you said, it’s also possible that maybe the people behind these movies were men. Back in that time, women lacked status and weren’t really able to stand for themselves. They were not accepted in society, since they usually stayed home and was responsible for house chores, and therefore depended on the men for money. Because they depended on the men, they always had to take their crap and stick around no matter what abuse they were encountering. I was also thinking that maybe it had to do with the alcohol. Just a possibility. Lastly, I guess gangsters focus on being bad and don’t really pay much attention to “loving” a woman because it’s almost as if they know they could find one easily with the huge ego they have . I’m going to guess gangsters know how to reel the women in, because they want or enjoy the challenge.. but once they know the woman is around, it seems as though they are no longer attracted to the woman in the same way just because they know they got them reeled in already.

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