Happy New Year.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, since Warner Brothers has ruled the domestic box office for two years straight while setting new records both at home and abroad, I thought it might be fun to take a look at movie moments which epitomize the Warner Brothers style when it was grittiest and most cost conscious of the major classic era film studios.
Few sequences encapsulate the WB style better than this scene from 1931’s “The Public Enemy,” directed by William “Wild Bill” Wellman, one of just a few films which set the pattern for the gangster movie for years to come. It’s all here, the crackling, cynical, fast-paced dialogue, the borderline fatalistic pessimism years before the “film noir” genre would be born, and a great star to deliver the goods in Jimmy Cagney.
And as a brief bonus, we have one of the most famous scenes of cozy marital relations every filmed featuring Cagney and Mae Clarke as the gangster’s unhappy wife. According to Wikipedia this scene — easily one of the most frequently excerpted moments ever made from any film — may have begun as a practical joke on the crew.