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