The Public Enemy was some sort of public service film to put people off becoming gangsters, getting mixed up in bootlegging and disappointing their Ma. It was terrifying! No exaggeration, I will have nightmares about that final scene!!
This was back in the day before censors, there's sex, violence, gore, all sorts of stuff! So the message was crime doesn't pay, they made that pretty damn clear!
James Cagney here in I think one of his first film roles, well, he was a sort of even-creepier Malcolm McDowell. I don't know how Jean Harlow makes it onto the poster she was in three scenes, what a sicht! The girl Cagney was seeing before her (the one whose face he shoves a grapefruit into- iconic/controversial scene) is very elegant and pretty, I suppose she would have been a drag though, too boring for a gangster. It must have been part of the message; if you turn to crime you will never be with beautiful women, only skanky trolls.
Anyway it put me right off crime, I did feel sorry for Ma and for the shell-shocked veteran brother (who seemed to smash all the furniture in the house), Tommy was a prick but that final scene was a bit much:
"Ma! Tommy's coming home from hospital!"
"Is he all right?"
"-he must be, or they wouldn't be bringing him home..."
A knock at the door, Mike opens it to Tommy's corpse, he is tied up in a body bag, showing is his dead blood-drenched face staring blankly, it keels over face first onto the floor with a sickening thud.
They all drank lemonade.... The End!