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Paper Topic:

History The Public Enemy (1931) Flim

p James Cagney 's PUBLIC ENEMY

While most critical analysis of film is presented in the linear fashion of looking at the beginning , middle and end of the film in that exact , it is important to look at the end of the James Cagney classic PUBLIC ENEMY from its conclusion first . As was common with gangster films of the era such as SCARFACE and LITTLE CESAR , the conclusion of the film presents the gangster 's comeuppance . When Cagney 's character of Tom Powers meets his death at the end of the film , the

audience is supposed to walk away with the feeling that the end of the road for those who break the law is doom

Of course , the audience never falls for this and understands that such endings were written more for the Legion of Decency and the Film Board of Censors , organizations that would bring a great deal of heat upon the film for letting criminals get away with their criminal actions . In reality , the character that James Cagney plays is not a villain , he is an anti-hero whose doom is not so much the result of his criminal actions , it is from greed and his flawed decision to take more that what he needed and , instead , started to embody the traits of the wealthy class whom the audience say as the true thieves who embodied corruption

In to understand why the audience might feel this way , one needs to keep in mind the fact that the film was made when America was dealing with the cruelty of the great depression . During the great depression , a number of thuggish gangsters captured the imagination of the public as modern day Robin Hoods who did what they needed to do in to survive in a world where there was great disparity between the rich and the poor (Socialism and communism had strong footholds in the labor movements of the time and , therefore , were held in esteem by many of the public to a far greater degree than what would later exist in the post World War Two era

Tom Powers , to a great degree , is a wayward son who captured the hearts and minds of the public . Yes , he commits criminal acts , but he is not so much a criminal . He realized that the world is a corrupt place and he simply fights the injustice of the world by not being constrained by the hypocrisy of it (This hypocrisy is underlined by contrasting Tom with his brother , a World War One veteran who was essentially a killer whose purpose was to protect the business interests of a western world that would later turn its back on him once the war had concluded

Tom Powers does not live by the drumbeat of the rest of the world because he recognizes the hypocrisy of it and he understands that by playing by the rules of society , one will only be trampled by it . This point is humorously driven home in...

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