I rewatched The Public Enemy last week (possibly for the hundredth time) and was, yet again, struck by the jaw-dropping talent of James Cagney and Edward Woods (an actor who doesn’t get nearly enough attention). I was also reminded of the magic that was Jean Harlow.
The Harlow Magic can’t possibly be described – it has to be experienced… it has to be felt. You can see photos of the actress and, while they’re obviously lovely, they truly don’t do her justice. when she spoke, when she moved, and when she conveyed emotions with her beautiful eyes, the spell is cast and the magic explodes.
The only knock I have against The Public Enemy is the fact that she wasn’t in more scenes. Then again, her few short appearances may actually make a larger impact – a rare phenomenon is often felt even more.
The Public Enemy is an extraordinary movie. Is it a “feel good” film… Heavens no, but it is one everyone should see at least once. When you do, you’re probably going to end up seeing it countless times like me.
There’s just something about these characters that beg you to revisit them.
James Cagney, Jean Harlow, and Edward Woods in The Public Enemy