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Little Caesar (1931)

Not Rated | | Action, Crime, Drama | 25 January 1931 (USA)
2:08 | Trailer

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


Mervyn LeRoy


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



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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)


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


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


Action | Crime | Drama | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »






Release Date:

25 January 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Little Caesar See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone) (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film's earliest documented telecasts took place in Tucson Friday 10 August 1956 on KDWI (Channel 9), in Phoenix Monday 17 September 1956 on KVAR (Channel 12), in Indianapolis Saturday 22 September 1956 on WFBM (Channel 6), and in San Francisco Sunday 30 September 1956 on KRON (Channel 4); as a sudden result of unexpectedly high ratings, it then aired in Miami Friday 19 October 1956 on WTVJ (Channel 4), in Boston Saturday 10 November 1956 on WBZ (Channel 4), in Buffalo Saturday 17 November 1956 on WBEN (Channel 4), in Salt Lake City Sunday 18 November 1956 on KUTV (Channel 2) , in Cincinnati Wednesday 28 November 1956 on WKRC (Channel 12), in Los Angeles Friday 7 December 1956 on KNXT (Channel 2), and in Portland OR Sunday 9 December 1956 on KOIN (Channel 6). See more »


Another problem with the scene in which Rico is wounded in the arm: when Rico leaves the newsstand heading toward the scene of his ambush, he's walking from left to right (as seen by the audience, the point of view referred to here throughout). Then we cut to the truck, with its concealed gunman, and it's heading toward him from the opposite direction. The truck's starting point, therefore, must have been in front of Rico, or to his right. But the trail of bullet holes created by the moving gun begins behind Rico, that is, to his left. Or in other words, the bullets striking the plate glass window behind Rico should have moved from right to left, not left to right, as they do in the movie. See more »


Caesar Enrico Bandello: Otero, what did I tell you, huh? I knew it was coming. I knew he had his eyes on me all the time. And let me tell you something, Otero. It's not only Pete Montana that's through, but the Big Boy himself. He ain't what he used to be. Pretty soon, he won't be able to take it, and then - watch me.
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 »


Referenced in Mondo Hollywood (1967) See more »


Foret Perfide
Music by Gabriel Marie
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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