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635 Ratings

The Public Enemy

Directed by William A. Wellman
United States, 1931


A young hoodlum rises up through the ranks of the Chicago underworld, even as a gangster’s accidental death threatens to spark a bloody mob war.

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The Public Enemy Directed by William A. Wellman

Awards & Festivals

Academy Awards

1931 | Nominee: Best Writing, Original Story

National Film Preservation Board

1998 | Winner: National Film Registry

Critics reviews

Stylised, horror film compositions alternate seamlessly with the most calmly observational shots of day-to-day goings on. And the astonishing boldness of this stylistic juxtaposition is collapsed by the calmly relentless pace of the shots and the blandness of the diegetic music. There is no catharsis; the film itself is in shock, unable to absorb the event it has witnessed. More than 80 years after it was made, it remains one of the most visceral kicks in the gut cinema has to offer its viewers.
September 01, 2012
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