7.3/10
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Little Caesar (1931)

Not Rated | | Action, Crime, Drama | 25 January 1931 (USA)
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2:09 | Trailer

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A small-time criminal moves to a big city to seek bigger fortune.

Director:

Mervyn LeRoy

Writers:

W.R. Burnett (novel), Robert N. Lee (continuity) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Edward G. Robinson ... Little Caesar - Alias 'Rico'
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. ... Joe Massara
Glenda Farrell ... Olga Stassoff
William Collier Jr. ... Tony Passa
Sidney Blackmer ... Big Boy
Ralph Ince ... Pete Montana
Thomas E. Jackson ... Sgt. Flaherty (as Thomas Jackson)
Stanley Fields ... Sam Vettori
Maurice Black ... Little Arnie Lorch
George E. Stone ... Otero
Armand Kaliz ... De Voss
Nicholas Bela Nicholas Bela ... Ritz Colonna (as Nick Bela)
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Storyline

Rico is a small-time hood who knocks off gas stations for whatever he can take. He heads east and signs up with Sam Vettori's mob. A New Year's Eve robbery at Little Arnie Lorch's casino results in the death of the new crime commissioner Alvin McClure. Rico's good friend Joe Massara, who works at the club as a professional dancer, works as the gang's lookout man and wants out of the gang. Rico is ambitious and eventually takes over Vettori's gang; he then moves up to the next echelon pushing out Diamond Pete Montana. When he orders Joe to dump his girlfriend Olga and re-join the gang, Olga decides there's only one way out for them. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

GANGLAND DARED HOLLYWOOD TO MAKE IT! (Print Ad-Portsmouth Times, ((Portsmouth, Ohio)) 17 February 1931) See more »

Genres:

Action | Crime | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 January 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Little Caesar See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone) (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In one scene, Edward G. Robinson had to fire a pistol while facing the camera. Try as he might, he was unable to keep his eyes open each time he pulled the trigger. The problem was eventually solved by having Robinson's eyes held open with cellophane tape. See more »

Goofs

When Rico is shot behind the billboard, the Thompson submachine gun used by the police detective has a blank-firing device attached. See more »

Quotes

Joe Massara: Yeah, there's money in the big town, all right. And the women. Good times, somethin' doin' all the time. Excitin' things, you know. Gee, the clothes I could wear.
See more »

Alternate Versions

In the 1954 re-release, a foreword crawl was added, warning that the "heroes" of Little Caesar and The Public Enemy represent "a problem that sooner or later we, the public, must solve." This version is often shown on cable channels. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Story of Film: An Odyssey: Post-War Cinema (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

If I'm Dreaming Don't Wake Me Too Soon
(uncredited)
Written by Joseph A. Burke and Al Dubin
See more »

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User Reviews

Still holds up very well
14 October 2006 | by Camera-ObscuraSee all my reviews

Seminal gangster film about the rise and fall of Enrico Bandello, a Chicago hoodlum, based on the novel by W.R. Burnett. The prototype for Enrico was, like so many other gangster heroes, mobster Al Capone. If you know a little bit about his life story, you got your basic gangster plot for practically all films that followed, like Tony Camonte in SCARFACE.

This film was the first of "the big three", together with PUBLIC ENEMY (1931) and SCARFACE: SHAME OF THE NATION (1932) and provided the blueprint for the modern gangster crime flic. It was the first gangster film to reach a wide audience and launched Edward G. Robinson to stardom. The story is simple and straightforward and might feel a little overly familiar to modern audiences, but the film lost little of its power and still holds up pretty well. It's a tough movie, but mostly tough talking with not much violence on screen.

But the film would probably be instantly forgettable without Robinson's superb performance. Whenever he's on screen, his presence is incredibly menacing. The rest of the cast is so so, but Thomas Jackson as Flaherty, Rico's nemesis, gives a wonderfully cynical performance, mocking Rico and all the other gangsters. Like most other early gangster films, it lacks the real emotional depth and complexity that came with later films, like the French gangster films of the fifties or THE GODFATHER and was made primarily as popular entertainment. Pleasant entertainment nevertheless with Edward G. Robinson portraying the first classic gangster role in screen history.

Camera Obscura --- 8/10


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