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Description

The Public Enemy (Warner Brothers, 1931). One Sheet (27" X 41") Style B.
The screen play for this classic film, which made a star of James Cagney and gave Warner Brothers another massive hit in their series of "social problem" films - a series inaugurated with the release of Little Caesar earlier in 1931 - was based on an unpublished work entitled "Beer and Blood" by John Bright, one of the screenwriters who worked on the picture. Bright's story revolves around real-life Chicago gangster Hymie Weiss, who succeeded the assassinated North Side kingpin Dion O'Banion, and was himself gunned down by hitmen from the South Side mob run by Johnny Torrio and Al Capone. In The Public Enemy, Tom Powers (Cagney) follows a similar trajectory to that of Weiss, in his meteoric rise and subsequent fall at the hands of the very system he helped to build. America in the early 1930s was a country in turmoil. At the lowest point of the Great Depression, audiences had little patience for wealthy and virtuous heroes who had little to do with the realities of bread lines, poverty, Hoovervilles, and unemployment. As such, anti-heroes like Tom Powers, who follows the code that all who live within the law are suckers, were uniquely fascinating to audiences who saw themselves as increasingly powerless in the face of reckless government and oppressive law enforcement. If they themselves could not take the law into their own hands, they could live such a dream vicariously through Cagney and other silver-screen gangsters. Unlike such slick and well-groomed actors as Lew Ayres and Ricardo Cortez, whose tough guy characters never seemed to quite ring true, Cagney's real-life streetwise persona brought a sense of electrifying reality to the characters he played, an electricity that caught on with Depression Era viewers. The result was one of the most important and indelible films of the decade. Still grittily satisfying, it set the standard for virtually all gangster pictures to come. As such, it should come as no surprise that collectors avidly seek original release paper from this historic genre classic. Sadly, little has turned up in the way of posters from The Public Enemy, save for the odd lobby card or window card. Until now. Among the many treasures to be found in the Berwick Discovery of Lost Movie Posters were both the Style A and Style B one sheets for this important film. The Style B shown here is a marvelous portrait of a vicious criminal set against a seething tide of common humanity. Powerful and rich, the colors virtually leap from the poster, grabbing the eye with its chiaroscuro-like juxtaposition of light and dark. Prior to expert professional restoration, approximately one inch had been trimmed from the white upper border, and there was a very small hole - about the size of a pencil eraser - on the end of the hoodlum's cap brim. Additionally, there was a chip in the bottom left corner that just slightly extends into the tip of the artwork. Aside from these extremely minor flaws, this stone litho one sheet is completely intact and the colors are untouched and absolutely brilliant. This is, without a doubt, one of the rarest and most desirable posters in the entire hobby, one that any collector will display with pride. Don't miss out on what may be your only opportunity to acquire this rare gem. From the Berwick Discovery. Fine+ on Linen.




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Service and Handling Description: Movie Poster - Rolled (view shipping information)

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Auction Dates
March, 2012
23rd-24th
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