The Public Enemy (released as Enemies of the Public in the United Kingdom) is a 1931 American all-talking Pre-Code crime film produced and distributed by Warner Bros.. The film was directed by William A. Wellman and stars James Cagney, Jean Harlow, Edward Woods, Donald Cook, and Joan Blondell. The film relates the story of a young man's rise in the criminal underworld in prohibition-era urban America. The supporting players include Beryl Mercer, Murray Kinnell, and Mae Clarke. The screenplay is based on a never-published novel by two former street thugs � Beer and Blood by John Bright and Kubec Glasmon � who had witnessed some of Al Capone's murderous gang rivalries in Chicago.
In 1998, The Public Enemy was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 2003 the character of Tom Powers was among the AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes and Villains, placing 42nd in the villain list. In 2008, the film appeared on one of the AFI's 10 Top 10 lists�the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres. The Public Enemy was listed as the eighth best in the gangster film genre.