The Public Menace (1935)

  |  Comedy, Drama, Romance

The Public Menace (1935) Poster

Non-citizen Arthur marries reporter Murphy for a bogus gangster's confession. A divorce is needed, and Murphy is fired. The gangster wants her to be his girlfriend, the police are outside, and only one who can save her is Murphy.


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4 June 2012 | Michael_Elliott
Bland Romance Mixed With Laughs
The Public Menace (1935)

** (out of 4)

A rather bland comedy from Columbia has a Greek woman (Jean Arthur) meeting a reporter (George Murphy) on an ocean liner and asking him to marry her so that she can get off the boat. The reporter agrees but only because she gives him a fake tip on a gangster (Douglass Dumbrille), which causes him to get fired from his job. Now married and with no job, the reporter does his best to bring down the gangster and his "wife" wants to help. For just a 72-minute movie there's quite a bit going on in this film but sadly none of it is all that entertaining. This was clearly just meant to be a programmer, something to put on the lower half of a double bill, because there's really not much working it in. Director Erle C. Kenton could certainly handle material like this but he's really not given too much to work with. The screenplay doesn't know if it wants to be a comedy with some gang activity put in or if it wants to be a gangster picture with some laughs. The entire set-up is just beyond bizarre and everything dealing with the marriage seems forced. This is especially true early on as the couple tries to save enough money so they can get a divorce but of course something happens. I thought Arthur was good in her role but to be honest she was much too good to be appearing in something like this. Murphy pretty much sleepwalks through his part and has very little chemistry with the lead. Dumbrille isn't the person you'd select for a gangster but he isn't too bad. THE PUBLIC MENACE isn't a horrible film but it's quite pointless.

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Release Date:

30 September 1935



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