The Public Enemy
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 Powers, confronting his brother
The "Public Enemy" of the film is Tom Powers, played by James Cagney, a young man living in Chicago during Prohibition whose crimes progress from small-time theft to bootlegging and murder.
The Public Enemy was added to the National Film Registry in 1998.
- Ambiguously Gay: The tailor, in who is in approximately 2 minutes of the film. See for yourself right here.
- Book Ends: Opens with a message that this film's purpose isn't to glorify gangsters, and closes with the message that 'The Public Enemy' is a problem in society that must be stopped.
- Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!: Tom Powers and Matt Doyle - they get all the girls, the snappy suits, and the cars.
- Domestic Abuse: The infamous grapefruit-in-the-face scene.
Tom: Ain't you got a drink in the house?
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing
- Downer Ending: Tom's in the hospital due to his injuries from avenging a fallen comrade, and when it looks like he's about to redeem himself, he gets kidnapped by the surviving mob members. But then his family gets a call from a stranger, presumably one of Tom's pals, that Tom's coming home immediately! As the mother and sister tidy up Tom's room, his brother Mike opens the door and watches Tom's dead body collapse before him.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Tom adores his Ma, and she seems to willingly overlook his crimes.
- The Irish Mob
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Putty Nose's song is cut off at the same point as earlier in the film, when Tom and Matt were kids.
- No Honor Among Thieves: When teenaged Tom and Matt botch a robbery, their boss Putty Nose ditches them. But when they see Putty Nose again during Matt's wedding and follow him back home...
- Parental Favoritism: Ma Powers favors her 'Tommy boy' over elder son Mike.
- Pretty in Mink: Gwen Allen
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Tom is Red, and his older brother Mike is Blue.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Tom's reaction to Matt's death is to steal a pair of pistols from a merchant and charge into the rival mob's hangout.
- Sound-Only Death: The camera cuts to Matt sitting at the side of the room when Tom shoots Putty Nose.
- Stuffed Into the Fridge: The way Tommy's death is revealed at the end-- his corpse is delivered standing up to his family's front door.