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Little Caesar (1931)

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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 Thomas E. Jackson ... Sgt. Flaherty (as Thomas Jackson)
Stanley Fields ... Sam Vettori
Maurice Black 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:

Mali Cezar See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

First National Pictures See more »
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

The opening weekend of this film's release broke the all-time attendance record for Warner Bros.' Strand Theatre in New York, grossing $50,000 in 11 performances. Both Edward G. Robinson and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. made personal appearances at the New York premiere, for which the top ticket prices were $2.00. See more »

Goofs

In the diner scene, Rico jumps from reading the newspaper to eating his spaghetti between shots. See more »

Quotes

Sgt. Tom Flaherty: So somebody finally put one in you.
Caesar Enrico Bandello: Yeah, but they just grazed me though.
Sgt. Tom Flaherty: The old man will be glad to hear it. He takes such an interest in you.
Caesar Enrico Bandello: You tell him the cops couldn't get me no other way, so they hired a couple of gunmen.
Sgt. Tom Flaherty: If I wasn't on the force I'd have done the job cheap.
Caesar Enrico Bandello: Did you ever stop to think what you'd look like with a lily in your hand?
Sgt. Tom Flaherty: No, I never did.
See more »

Alternate Versions

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

Connections

Referenced in The Twilight Zone: The Prime Mover (1961) See more »

Soundtracks

Neapolitana
(uncredited)
Music by Gustave Klemm
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Birth of a genre
9 September 2000 | by spirit11See all my reviews

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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