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 ... See full summary »
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Edward G. Robinson,
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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
WARNING: This review may reveal some scenes of the movie!
In the film that made Edward G. Robinson a star, we get to see one of the nastiest, meanest characters ever put on film. As "Rico," Robinson plays a no-holds barred gangster. As an example, at one point he believes one of his gang is feeling guilty and going to the priest to confess...so he guns him down on the steps of the church.
I first started watching the film simply because I'm a bit of a film buff and felt that it should be a film I see, regardless of how good (or bad) it might be. But by the end of the film, I had been pulled into the story. It revolves around a small-time thug and his buddy who go to the city to make it big. Soon Rico is muscling in on the "big guys" turf, taking over his territory with his own brand of shoot first, ask questions later. I could tell you more, but you should see the movie instead.
Robinson is great in the film. Toward the end of the film there is an amazing shot of just his face, staring into the camera -- no words, no other characters, just Robinson as Rico, and you get a chance to see truly great acting! Just the mood he creates with his eyes alone in this one shot is worth seeing the entire film. Throw in a good storyline, an entire gang of thugs who are terrified of the chief thug, great direction, and you wind up with a great film. And don't worry parents -- this is still a film from 1930, so there is no sex, no language, and even the majority of the violence (which is minimal considering this is a film about the mob!) is hidden from sight. Even the ones you see have no blood involved -- just the sound of a gun and a person slumps over to die.
When you see a film like this on a station like Turner Classic Movies, you get the added benefit of additional trivia. According to the introduction, the book upon which this movie was based was written after the author, listening to a friend of his sing on the radio live from a local club, was gunned down on the air when the mob broke into the club with Tommy guns blazing. Imagine the shock of hearing your friend killed live on the radio...
Finally, during the introduction of the film it was also stated that at the time of release, complaints were made that the film glorified the mob and their violent ways. I disagree. If Robinson's portrayal doesn't turn you off of violence and the mob, then you probably aren't human -- which is probably exactly the point of this film.
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