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The Little Giant (1933)

Approved | | Comedy, Crime, Romance | 20 May 1933 (USA)
When Prohibition ends, a beer baron sees the writing on the wall, quits the rackets, and tries to break into California society.

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Writers:

(original screen play), (original screen play)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Ruth Wayburn
...
Polly Cass
...
Al Daniels
...
John Stanley
...
Edith Merriam
...
Donald Hadley Cass
Don Dillaway ...
Gordon Cass (as Donald Dillaway)
Louise Mackintosh ...
Mrs. Dudley Hadley Cass
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Storyline

Prohibition is ending so bootlegger Bugs Ahearn decides to crack California society. He leases a house from down-on-her-luck Ruth and hires her as social secretary. He rescues Polly Cass from a horsefall and goes home to meet her dad who sells him some phony stock certificates. When he learns about this he sends to Chicago for mob help. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Romance

Certificate:

Approved

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

20 May 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Aristokratis gangster  »

Box Office

Budget:

$197,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Al" recounts a job where he shot up a stuffed Polar Bear. The same plot scene was depicted in The Public Enemy (1931) with "Tom" doing the shooting. See more »

Quotes

James Francis 'Bugs': I'm in love with a girl - a lady, very rich, fine family, swell education - everything that I ain't got.
Ruth Wayburn: I see.
James Francis 'Bugs': Well, anyhow, I'm a pretty tough mug myself. I came from the gutter, and I guess you can still smell it on me. The only school I went to is reform school.
See more »


Soundtracks

Chicago (That Toddlin' Town)
(1922) (uncredited)
Written by Fred Fisher
Played during the opening credits
Reprised when the gang comes to Santa Barbara
Reprised at the end
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User Reviews

 
A fast-paced Edward G. Robinson classic
3 February 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Like every great First National picture, this one starts off quickly, with Edward G. Robinson in full, glorious gangster mode, speaking the classic language of the Prohibition movie gangsters, words like "mugs" and "rods" ornamenting his lines. But there is a twist here: Robinson (as "Bugs" Ahearn, the "Beer Baron"), is going to quit the illegal beer business (since Prohibition has ended), and go straight. In fact, Bugs has a dream: to become successful in high society.

The script is very fast paced and delightful, and in a couple of places, quite shocking, reminding us of how progressive pre-Code Hollywood could be; I almost fell out of my chair when Robinson's flunky and companion Al, when asked by Robinson whether he ever saw a painting like the one in his living room, responds with, "not since I stopped using cocaine"!! Another shocker comes later when Robinson refers to some slimy society people as "fags". Oh dear!

Robinson was an amazing actor. He constantly shifts back and forth between the know-it-all wiseguy bully, and a would be high society snob, who is very unsure of himself. This uncertain, unconfident Robinson, a tough guy who swallows his pride and grovels before his betters, is pleasing to see, and he does it very well. Perhaps one of the great Robinson scenes of all time is when Mary Astor seduces an unsuspecting EGR on a couch. Robinson plays it beautifully, as he has no idea that he is being seduced; and in a delightful moment, when Mary Astor has shyly moved away, sudden realization hits EGR as to what might have just happened. He turns to the camera, and I swear he makes exactly the kind of faces, registering surprise and possible comprehension to the audience, exactly as Oliver Hardy famously did a thousand times in his career. A priceless and lovely moment.

There are many satisfying moments in this film, and I highly recommend this. The early EG Robinson movies are gifts to be treasured, and this is one of the best.


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