Eighty years ago on this very date, one of the seminal films of the gangster movie genre was released to motion picture theaters…and in revisiting The Public Enemy (1931) for an essay I wrote at Edward Copeland on Film…and More, I was completely bowled over by how well this classic still holds up today. You have James Cagney, of course, in the role that cemented his silver screen immortality (the man has charisma to spare) but there’s also the early presence of Jean Harlow (grrrrowl!)—and in all honesty, I thought about doing Public Enemy for the Harlow Blogathon sponsored by The Kitty Packard Pictorial back in March but since I already knew I’d be discussing it over at Eddie’s (no flies on this blogger; he meticulously plans out features months in advance) I went with the Jean/Laurel & Hardy piece. The other thing that impressed the heck out of me is William “Wild Bill” Wellman’s sophisticated direction in a film that was released at a time when sound movies were still in their growing pains, knee pants stage; his camera is strikingly fluid for an early sound production and there’s one point in the movie—I mention at Ed’s about how movies often exploited the wild side by showing both “sin” and “salvation”—where there’s a pan through the streets of Chicago and a Salvation Army band marches by in a wry bit of subtle, onscreen commentary.
Now that I have the personal shilling out of the way, I need to let the TDOY faithful know that there may be slight interruptions in the content here during the next two weeks because…we’ve lost our lease! We’re selling to the bare walls! We must liquidate, no reasonable offer refused! Okay, it’s not quite that bad—but the current address of Rancho Yesteryear will be defunct at the end of next month…not because of any problems with the landlords (they’re good people to rent from) but because the ‘rents and I have been chewing over the notion of finding a house to rent together here in the Classic City and come May 1, that will be a reality. As you are no doubt aware from the photographs in this post, this means I will have to pack up the dusty Thrilling Days of Yesteryear archives and because we hope to coordinate this all in one swell foop I’ll be spending most of my copious free time next week and the week after doing the cardboard box thing.
It means a lot of changes here in the future content of TDOY as well—my Dad has asked me to supervise the cable people’s installation of both cable and Internet at the new location on May 2…and though I lobbied hard to keep the Showtime package it was for naught; my Encore Westerns will soon fall by the wayside (but the good news is that The Greatest Cable Channel Known to Mankind™ will remain intact). (So if anyone can help me out with a few episodes of Lawman that I’m missing, drop me an e-mail and we’ll see if we can work something out.) Ivan, Sr. and I are also going to pool our resources and see if we can’t start hawking on eBay and at our local flea market some of the acres of crap he’s collected over the years in a madcap homage to Sanford and Son (or if you’re on the other side of the pond and reading this, Steptoe and Son). Such proximity to the ‘rents can only mean, however, that the sitcom-like adventures of Mater, Pater and myself will probably develop a larger presence here (though hopefully not at the expense of the movie and TV content).
I’ll try to check in here between now and the next time I see you all of a sudden—frequent TDOY contributor Phil Schweier has sent me a review that will probably make itself known within the next couple of days or so. Until then, don’t forget the official blog mantra: “Let the wacky complications ensue!”