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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.


The movie M, directed by Fritz Lang is considered one of the first “oldie but goodie” movies I have seen thus far. Although I love watching movies, especially romantic comedies, I must honestly say I have not seen an actual “old” movie before this class. Not that I was ever against the idea of it, I guess I just never had the opportunity to sit down and watch movies from long ago. Surprisingly enough, I enjoyed the movie M. Although the movie, especially the beginning parts of it was a tad bit dragged out, the story line was quite interesting. In the beginning, I wasn’t quite sure what was going on and I had no idea what to expect of the movie. It wasn’t until the mother opened the door to check the staircase, and screamed out “ELSIE!!” so many times did I understand that her little girl was missing. Lang used a great way to express this, by showing shots of the food ready on the table all by itself, as well as the rolling of “Elsie’s ball” on the ground by itself, and the balloon the child was given floating loose in the air and caught onto the electric wires. These shots in fact gave me a sense of fear, and I almost thought I was watching a scary movie and was quite uncomfortable for a few minutes. I also noticed a lot of whistling in the movie, I guess this is because there was a lack of background music in old movies. Which it’s interesting how everyone in the movie (both people who worked in the Government, and those in the underground world) were looking for clues and objects as evidence to lead them to the murderer, but it was in fact the murderer’s whistle/voice that actually gave him away.  Another thing I noticed was, it seemed as though every scene contained a lot of the actors smoking, or even the consumption of alcohol. In addition, we as the audience see this theme of pointing fingers outward, as to who to blame for a murderer around and children missing. Is the police doing a terrible job? Or is it the mothers’ fault? Throughout the movie, we see a pattern of circles: people sitting around round tables, clocks, ball; which can be considered as the display of karma to some. In the sense that the murderer will get what he deserves, and that the mothers will need to keep a better watch and be more responsible of their children in the future.  I found the marking of the “M” on the murderer’s back was pure genius. If all the movies we watch in this class is like M, then I’ll definitely look forward to Fridays more. Now I’m a little more relieved about sitting through this 4 hour class which I thought at first was going to feel super long. It’s actually not that bad.. keep the good movies coming!


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