Little Caesar (1931)
Critic Consensus: Little Caesar achieves epic stature thanks to Edward G. Robinson's volcanic charisma, forging a template for the big-screen mobster archetype that's yet to be surpassed.
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as Rico Bandello
as Sgt. Flaherty
as Diamond Pete Montana
as Big Boy
as Tony Passa
as Sam Vettori
as Commissioner McClure
as Little Arnie Lorch
as Ritz Colonna
as Ma Magdalena
as Kid Bean
as Machine Gunner
as Cafe Guest
Critic Reviews for Little Caesar
LeRoy's coldly efficient direction-due less to his own artistry than to the constraints of sound recording in its first years-imposes a static rigor on the action and lends the actor's diction and gestures a sculptural, granitic force.
No director could ask for more than Edward G. Robinson's contribution. Here, no matter what he has to say, he's entirely convincing.
Though it looks somewhat dated now, there's no denying the seminal importance of this classic adaptation of WR Burnett's novel.
The production is ordinary and would rank as just one more gangster film but for two things. One is the excellence of Mr. Burnett's credible and compact story. The other is Edward G. Robinson's wonderfully effective performance.
Audience Reviews for Little Caesar
Edward G. Robinson's place in cinematic history was made right here with his career-defining turn as the title character in this celebrated early gangster classic. He plays Caesar Enrico "Little Caesar" Bandello- a small time hood who rises from the lowest level all the way to the top in this tried and true variation on the rags to riches story. He's a little guy with a big attitude and little regard for underworld protocol or having trusted friends and allies. He's a classic antihero if there ever was one. The story is by the numbers, formulaic, and perhaps overdramatized, but this is still an enjoyable and important film, if more underwhelming than I had anticipated. It's a good effort, but not as striking or excellent as Scarface. Robinson does a great job though, and there's some good sequences, and, since it is pretty influential, you should probably give it a watch, espeically if you are a fan of crime dramas.
A small time criminal moves to the big city and works his way up to become a criminal kingpin. One of the earliest portrayals of a criminal "dynasty", Little Caesar was also the big break for Edward G. Robinson. The star quality of he and an unusually immobile Douglas Fairbanks Jr. certainly shine through but like The Public Enemy, this is more an interesting period piece than a truly involving story. Like many early talkies, the supporting cast ham it up like they think they are still in silent pictures and many plot points hinge upon overheard conversations as the bad guy explains his plans in explicit detail to a crony. Rico's implausibly meteoric rise is also aided by the fact that he is told that another in the mob heirarchy is "out" with no further explanation of any kind. Many of these so-called "heavies" are also amusingly camp by today's standards to the point where I couldn't help wondering if there was a deliberate homosexual subtext; Rico, Joe and Otero almost seem to be caught in a gay love triangle! Interesting as a snapshot into the birth of the gangster genre but it just doesn't cut it as believable drama in this day and age.
A pretty good start at gangster films, but it could have been better.
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