SunAndMoon

Little Caesar vs. The Public Enemy vs. Scarface (1932)

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Yes, it's the inevitable "Which is your favorite?" question, this time applying to the three films that defined the gangster genre.

Obviously, all three are great movies and deserve their reputation as classics, but I personally have to go with Scarface. Something about that look of maniacal joy on Tony's face when he tries out a machine gun for the first time just does it for me, even more so than Rico's rant on the telephone or Tom slapping his girlfriend in the face with a grapefruit. Iconic, all of them.

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I agree with Scarface too. Rico is the best villain of those three films. I like the "X" symbolism as well.

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Having just watched all 3 again recently, Scarface is clearly the better movie, followed by Public Enemy and Little Caesar. They're all enjoyable, though.

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I think scarface is the best with little caesar a close 2nd. I enjoy public enemy a lot but it simply is not in the same class as the other two.

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It's a 3 way tie, because I find each film very much enjoyable in their own way but I am going to go against the grain and say THE PUBLIC ENEMY, what can I say I just LOVE Jimmy!

Mean and vicious as he was, he was certainly more of a charmer than either Rico or Tony.

Though let's be honest here, and at the risk of hijacking the thread,Cody Jarrett of WHITE HEAT could wipe the floor with all of them.

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Since the question here is which of the 3 films is my favorite,  I also have to go with Scarface.   While Cagney gives the best performance,  there are some really poor performances in The Public Enemy,  while Scarface has better overall acting.   E.g.  Ann Dvorak gives the best performance of any actress in the 3 films.   

Hey, still a close call, but that is how I see it.

 

 

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It's close, but Paul Muni for the win.  Scarface is perhaps not as stylized as Little Caesar or Public Enemy, but Muni's complex characterization elevates it.  

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Scarface seems to be running away with it, so I guess I need to watch it again. It's the one I remember the least well of the three. My vote was going to be for The Public Enemy, which has a couple of absolutely iconic scenes (Cagney's mission of vengeance in a downpour, that ending!) and that lead performance by Cagney, I think every bit as revolutionary as all the stuff Brando would get so much praise for 20-plus years later. I feel Cagney with this film let us know just how great acting in the sound era could be. But James has a point: some of the other performances drag the movie down, including, surprisingly, Jean Harlow, who doesn't seem to have figured out her on-screen persona yet.

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Harlow's incredibly wooden performance in Public Enemy is so bad it almost seems like satire. And she's not the only performer in that film whose performance is questionable. Take a look at Eddie Woods' "emoting" as Cagney's pal, not to mention Beryl Mercer who, as Tommy's loving mother who could never believe in anything bad coming from her Tommy, comes off as down right simple minded.

Cagney's instinctive portrayal is extraordinary for an actor with so limited acting experience. He is pure street, tough, at times even a little funny, but with a cold blooded ruthlessness in some scenes that can be seen as a forerunner to White Heat. It's a great performance, though that takes nothing away from Eddie G. in Little Caesar (a very dated film, otherwise) or the enjoyment to be found in Paul Muni's broad strokes, ebullient portrayal of Scarface.

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Been a while since I've seen all three(especially "Scarface") so I'll have to go, based on memory, with the "three way tie" idea.

Sepiatone

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12 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

(Cagney's mission of vengeance in a downpour, that ending!

I haven't seen Public Enemy in a while but does it have such a scene?    I know that The Roaring Twenties ends this way with Gladys George giving him a final send-off  (The Roaring Twenties was his last gangster role until he did White Heat 9 years later).

 

 

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2 minutes ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

I haven't seen Public Enemy in a while but does it have such a scene?    I know that The Roaring Twenties ends this way with Gladys George giving him a final send-off  (The Roaring Twenties was his last gangster role until he did White Heat 9 years later).

 

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I took an introduction to film class my freshman year of college that I think is not an exaggeration to say changed my life. The instructors (it was co-taught by two assistant professors) usually showed a clip or two from some famous movie each class, and that's where I first saw that rain-drenched scene. I didn't know anything about studio era films before taking that class. You could count on two hands, maybe one, the number of pre-1965 movies (non-Disney, my local theater was always showing Disney reissues in my childhood) I'd seen before taking that class. 

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I would have to say Little Caesar because EGR really just mesmerizes me with his performance and I always watch when it's on. I love the whole feel of the film...the age of it, the bare bones production. 

Public Enemy also holds a similar fascination. Scarface...wow. It doesn't air often enough. Seriously, I cannot rank the three as they are each such masterpieces and the 3 actors exhibit their talents to the hilt.  

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On ‎2‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 2:00 PM, LawrenceA said:

 

I AIN'T SO TOUGH

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1 minute ago, spence said:

I AIN'T SO TOUGH

& MY MOTHER THANKS YOU, MY FATHER THANKS YOU, MY SUSTER THANKS YOU & I THANK YOU FOR THIS SUPERB FOOTAGE  STILL VEERY POWERFULK STUFF, BUT NOT NEARLKY AS STRIONG AS A :"WGH" "ANGELS" "ROARING 20'S" MAINLY NO SCIORING AS YET IN THE *OSCARS & MOSTLY ELSEWHERE?

 

CAN YOU FATHOM IF HE & WOODSDID SWUTXCH ROILES THOUGH     YIKES

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