The Public Enemy showcases James Cagney's powerful 1931 breakthrough performance as streetwise tough guy Tom Powers. When shooting began, Cagney had a secondary role but Zanuck soon spotted Cagney's screen dominance ... more »and gave him the star part. From that moment, an indelible genre classic and an enduring star career were both born. As a psychotic thug devoted to his hard-boiled ma, James Cagney - older, scarier and just as elctrifying - gives a performance to match his work in The Public Enemy as White Heat's cold-blooded Cody Jarrett. Bracingly directed by Raoul Walsh, this fast-paced thriller tracing Jarrett's violent life in and out of jail is also a harrowing character study. Jarrett is a psychological time bomb ruled by impulse. It is among the most vivid screen performances of Cagney's career, and the excitement it generates will put you on top of the world! In Angels with Dirty Faces, Cagney's Rocky Sullivan is a charismatic ghetto tough whose underworld rise makes him a hero to a gang of slum punks. The 1938 New York Film Critics Best Actor Award came Cagney's way, as well as one of the film's three Oscar nominations. Watch the chilling death-row finale and you'll know why. "R-I-C-O, Little Caesar, that's who!" Edward G. Robinson bellowed into the phone. And Hollywood got the message: 37-year-old Robinson, not gifted with matinee-idol looks, was nonetheless a first-class star and moviegoers hailed the hard-hitting social consciousness dramas that became the Depression-era mainstay of Warner Bros. Little Caesar is the tale of pugnacious Caesar Enrico Bandello, a hoodlum with a Chicago-sized chip on his shoulder, few attachments, fewer friends and no sense of underworld diplomacy. And Robinson - a genteel art collector who disdained guns (in the movie, his eyelids were taped to keep them from blinking when he fired a pistol) - was forever associated with the screen's archetypal gangster. A rundown diner bakes in the Arizona heat. Inside, fugitive killer Duke Mantee sweats out a manhunt, holding disillusioned writer Alan Squier, young Gabby Maple and a handful of others hostage. The Petrified Forest, Robert E. Sherwood's 1935 Broadway success about survival of the fittest, hit the screen a year later with Leslie Howard and Humphrey Bogart magnificently recreating their stage roles and Bette Davis ably reteaming with her Of Human Bondage co-star Howard. Sherwood first wanted Bogart for a smaller role. "I thought Sherwood was right," Bogart said. "I couldn't picture myself playing a gangster. So what happened? I made a hit as the gangster." So right was he that Howard refused to make the film without him...and helped launch Bogie's brilliant movie career. In The Roaring Twenties, the speakeasy era never roared louder than in this gangland chronicle that packs a wallop under action master Raoul Walsh's direction. Against a backdrop of newsreel-like montages and narration, it follows the life of jobless war veteran Eddie Bartlett (James Cagney) who turns bootlegger, dealing in "bottles instead of battles." Battles await Eddie within and without his growing empire. Outside are territorial feuds and gangland bloodlettings. Inside is the treachery of his double-dealing associate (Humphrey Bogart). It would be 10 years before Cagney played another gangster (in White Heat), a time in which gangster movies themselves became rare. "He used to be a big shot," Panama Smith (Gladys George) says at the finale, marking Bartlett's demise...and signaling the end of Hollywood's focus on the gangster era.« less
"Who can argue that this isn't the greatest collection of classic gangster films ever made?
If you need more proof about how good these are, I have 3 sources that rated these films BEFORE they were released to DVD. Leonard Maltin (represented by LM, his highest rating is 4 stars),Nick Martin & Marsha Porter (authers of DVD & Video guide - represented by DVDG), and All Movie Guide (Represented by AMG).
Let's go Chronologically:
Little Caesar: LM- 3 1/2; DVDG - 3; AMG - 5
The Public Enemy: LM - 3 1/2; DVDG - 4 1/2; AMG - 5
If you really look at the ratings (and consider that Maltin uses a 4 star rating system (as opposed to a 5 star)),you will see that the profesional critics rate these as quite high. Let's face it. These are the cream of the Warner gangster library. Another neat thing that was done for the DVD is the Warner Night at the Movies (Similarly done with Yankee Doodle Dandy, Treasures of the Sierra Madre, and the Adventures of Robin Hood - also introduced by Leonard Maltin) which gives you the option of viewing the film the way it was in theaters during that year (complete with trailer, news item, short, cartoon, & movie). They all have commentaries by notable historians, and have "Making of" special features (a few which include Martin Scorsese).
The prints are the cleanest I've seen in years (Turner does a top notch job of getting the best available source material). The sound is above average to good. There are subtitles for the films, and closed captioning. Subtitles in english, french, and spanish.
The bottom line is if you are into this genre, you are going to want to get all 6 of these films (watch them in chronological order, the way the "making of"s are presented is much more rewarding if you do). These are simply the best of the gangster films. Second to none, and (to quote Cagney) "Top of the World"."
Warner's top-tier gangster movie properties
calvinnme | 01/19/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's interesting to compare the three stars of these movies - Edward G. Robinson, James Cagney, and Humphrey Bogart - and their styles in each of these movies. "Little Caesar" and "Public Enemy" were made when prohibition was still in effect and gangland crime was still a big problem. Thus Robinson and Cagney each play remorseless criminals with no redeeming values whatsoever. Robinson's Rico is less physical than Cagney's Tom Powers, though. You believe that either one of them would shoot you without a second thought. However, Cagney's Powers is scarier because the real fear is that he would beat you to a pulp for the fun of it and THEN shoot you.
"The Petrified Forest" is not your typical gangster film, with Leslie Howard's vagabond being the real star in what amounts to an improbable romance set against the backdrop of the desperation of the Great Depression which the desert setting seems to signify. This 1936 film has Bogart as Duke Mantee, a gangster on the run, in what amounts to a supporting role. However, you do get to see all of the traits that made Bogart great when he got the opportunity to seize the lead in later roles. And to think they almost cast him as the filling station attendant in this one!
In 1938's "Angels with Dirty Faces" and 1939's "The Roaring Twenties" Cagney is again playing the lead gangster and Humphrey Bogart plays a supporting role in both films. With prohibition long over, though, these movies make Cagney's gangster more three-dimensional, showing him to even be a self-sacrificing character at times as well as a killer. Both movies bother to show that had circumstances been a little different, he might not have even become a criminal in the first place.
1949's "White Heat" shows the influence of film noir that was so popular in the 40's an 50's. Here, Cagney's gangster persona has come full circle back to the viciousness of Tom Powers in "Public Enemy". The big difference is that in this film Cagney's mother is no cream puff. She is, in fact, probably a bigger criminal in thought if not in deed than Cagney's Cody Jarrett. This final gangster film of the six shows technology and thus the law gaining on the criminal, with electronic gadgets and undercover lawmen with college degrees in psychology replacing the determined hard-boiled detectives and beat cops of the past. It very much looks forward to the Dragnet series that is to emerge in the 50's.
In summary, this is just a terrific package and basically acts as a complete course on the gangster film as genre. All studios should stand up and take notice of how Warner Home Video put this set together. Highly recommended. The following are the extra features:
The Public Enemy (1931) Leonard Maltin Hosts Warner Night at the Movies 1931 with Newsreel, Comedy Short: The Eyes Have It, Cartoon: Smile, Darn Ya, Smile, and 1931 Trailer Gallery. Featurette - Beer and Blood: Enemies of the Public Commentary by Film Historian Robert Sklar 1954 Re-release Foreword Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
White Heat (1949) Leonard Maltin Hosts Warner Night at the Movies 1949 with Newsreel, Comedy Short: So You Think You're Not Guilty, Cartoon: Homeless Hare, and 1949 Trailer Gallery . Featurette - White Heat: Top of the World Commentary by Film Historian Drew Casper Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) Leonard Maltin Hosts Warner Night at the Movies 1938 with Newsreel, Musical Short: Out Where the Stars Begin, Cartoon: Porky and Daffy, and 1938 Trailer Gallery. Featurette - Angels with Dirty Faces: Whaddya Hear? Whaddya Say? Commentary by Film Historian Dana Polan Audio-Only Bonus: Radio Production with the Film's 2 Stars Languages: English & French Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Little Caesar (1930) Leonard Maltin Hosts Warner Night at the Movies 1930 with Newsreel, Spencer Tracy Short: The Hard Guy, Cartoon: Lady Play Your Mandolin, and 1930/31 Trailer Gallery. Featurette - Little Caesar: End of Rico, Beginning of the Antihero Commentary by Film Historian Richard B. Jewell 1954 Re-release Foreword Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
The Petrified Forest (1936) Leonard Maltin Hosts Warner Night at the Movies 1936 with Newsreel, Musical Short: Rhythmitis, Cartoon: The Coo Coo Nut Grove, and 1936 Trailer Gallery . Featurette - The Petrified Forest: Menace in the Desert Commentary by Bogart Biographer Eric Lax Audio-Only Bonus: Radio Adaptation Starring Bogart, Tyrone Power and Joan Bennett Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
The Roaring Twenties (1939) Leonard Maltin Hosts Warner Night at the Movies 1939 with Newsreel, Musical Short: All Girl Revue, Comedy Short: The Great Library Misery, Cartoon: Thugs with Dirty Mugs, and 1939 Trailer Gallery. Featurette - The Roaring Twenties: The World Moves on Commentary by Film Historian Lincoln Hurst Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
This set was previously just called "The Warner Gangsters". This is that same set just retitled as Volume 1 to correspond with "Warner Tough Guys" being renamed "Warner Gangsters Volume 2", and a new set, "Warner Gangsters Volume 3", to be released in the first part of 2008."
I Love You, Warner Home Video!!!!!
P. B. Reynolds | North Carolina | 11/24/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ah, good ol' Warner Bros. Home Video! If she were a woman, I'd marry her! First, the Looney Tunes Golden Collection, then the Film Noir Classics Collection, and now this!!! I should have known that they would be the ones who would finally bring the often imitated but never duplicated "White Heat" to DVD. Not only that, but we also get two, count 'em TWO of the infamous pre-Hayes Code gangster classics, the two films which singlehandedly founded the entire crime-drama genre, "The Public Enemy" and "Little Caesar"!
"Angels With Dirty Faces" and "The Roaring Twenties" are also terrific films, and I'm really looking forward to seeing all of these cherished treasures of the American cinema rescued from neglect and digitalized for posterity! From what I've heard, Warner has poured their sweat and blood into this set, with commentaries for each film, vintage poster-art keep-cases, and the deluxe treatment that such a fine pack of films deserves. I think I speak for every classic film fan here when I say that January is going to be a darn good month to have a DVD player!"
The Wait Was Worth It!!
Derek A. Estes | Portland, OR United States | 11/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Warners has really out done themselves this time. All 6 of these films are CLASSICS! And they are presented like never before! The Public Enemy will be un-cut for the first time in over 70 years! Each of these films have been restored to present the greatest versions possible. Each will contain a Leonard Maltin "Night At The Movies" special featuring Trailers, Short films, Cartoons, News reels from the year of the films release! Four of James Cagney's greatest films will finaly be available on DVD, Angels with Dirty Faces, The Roaring Twenties, The Public Enemy,and White Heat. Not to mention the DVD premeire The Petrified Forest with Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis and Leslie Howard, and Little Ceasar with Edward G Robinson! This set is a must have for any fan of classic Hollywood!"
THE DVD RELEASE OF 2005 IS ALREADY HERE--AMAZING!!!
Eric | Columbus, OH | 01/27/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When it comes down to it, Warner Bros. invented the gangster film. Just like MGM was the tops in musicals, and Universal was the house of horror, the tough, hard-boiled gangster film was imitated elswhere, but never equalled by what WB had done.
How fitting is it that the studio that put its mark on the genre, finally pays homage with an unbelievable boxed set filled with six stunningly gorgeous, restored transfers of 6 masterworks. If you're used to seeing these films on Turner Classic Movie Channel or on VHS or laserdisc, you're in for a shock....They've NEVER looked this good before....and PUBLIC ENEMY has extra scenes that were considered too "racy" and removed from the film after initial release. But WB has put them back here, and it's a kick.
Each film has a new documentary, and that superb "WARNER NIGHT AT THE MOVIE#S" feature with none other than Leonard Maltin to introduce a host of shorts, cartoons, newsreels and featurettes that would re-create the movie-going experience of each film from the year it was made.
I was blown away by this sensational release, and the intelligence, class and care with which it has been assembled surely would make the Brothers Warner, wherever they are, be justifiably proud.
The younger generation left in charge of their celluloid legacy has presented these classics in a way that shows why Warner leaves every one of their competitors in the far distance.
If you love classic films, this bargain-priced boxed set is a must-have!"