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An Enemy of the People

The casting of Steve McQueen as the hero of Ibsen's play (a scientist determined to expose the pollution of a prosperous small town's water supply) threatens the worst. But his performance, together with Durning's as his brother the mayor (equally determined to put the lid on any scandal) make it fairly creditable. Sure, it's stagebound. But decent production values, and direction that preserves the suspense of Ibsen's exposition, make sure that it remains watchable until the play's own unsatisfactory last act. The only really offensive aspects are the denunciation scene, and the degeneration of the hero into an increasingly sentimentalised Christ-like martyrdom, as much the fault of the text as of McQueen's interpretation.

Release details

Duration: 107 mins

Cast and crew

Director: George Schaefer
Screenwriter: Alexander Jacobs
Cast: Steve McQueen
Bibi Andersson
Charles Durning
Richard A Dysart
Michael Cristofer
Michael Higgins

Average User Rating

2.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

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Andrew Cummins

It was four years since The Towering Inferno, Steve chose to appear in a film that dumbfounded the industry, An Enemy Of The People. I can't think of any other reason that drove Steve to want to do An Enemy Of The People except to prove, maybe to himself to start with, and maybe to the public too, or to Hollywood, that he was more than just the physical type. The film was a critical disaster, and was withdrawn from distribution. However, some critics applauded the courage of Steve's effort.