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Essay Public Enemy influence on Sopranos Influence of The Public Enemy 1931 on The Sopranos David Chases influence by William Wellmans classic gangster film extends beyond specific details to the ambiguous overall intention of the work Specific episodes pay explicit homage In the most dramatic reference when Livia dies Tony watches that film on TV Obviously Juniors pie in his mistresss face I 9 echoes Tom Powers James Cagney grapefruit in his Kittys Mae Clark But where Toms action characterizes his misogyny Juniors marks his own denial of his sensitivity and generosity And though the Irish-American of the 1930s cops and robbers film gives way to the Italian-American some of the most dramatic scenes in both works happen over dinner But of course the classic films relevance to The Sopranos runs deeper than those obvious citations Wellmans film focuses on the rise and fall of a Chicago hoodlum in the early years of the 20th Century As a boy Tom plays tough guy He accepts his policemans father strapping with stoic disdain He ridicules his older brother Mikes Donald Cook virtues a legitimate job on the streetcars night school study to improve himself volunteering for the marines Mikes virtuous romance with Molly Doyle Rita Flynn contrasts with Toms leading her brother Matt Edward Woods into a life of crime Tom anticipates the Sopranos life of hedonistic and excessive pleasure After the introductory Chicago montage the first scene establishes the Wellman films ethos A man toting six pails of beer crosses paths with a Salvation Army band parading in the opposite direction It passes a bar from which young Tom and Matt emerge with a pail of beer presumably to deliver Toms heady swig leaves him with a beer foam not milk moustache To the band Brighten the corner where you are at that corner two forms of life brightening collide the Sally Anns religious and community values vs Toms precocious choice of
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