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 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 »
This isn't the best film Robinson ever made, but from a historical point of view, it is THE film to see considering it made him a well-known and A-level actor. This is pretty much what also happened with Jimmy Cagney's THE PUBLIC ENEMY--which also came out the same year. Both films are "pre-Code" in style, as they show a higher level of violence than gangster films of the late 30s--though both pale in sleaziness and violence to Paul Muni's SCARFACE!
The film begins with friends Robinson and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. as small-time hoods. They both decide they've had enough of this life so they move to "the big city" (though WHICH one is never said in the film). Robinson wants to move up and eventually control organized crime, while Fairbanks wants to be, believe it or not, a professional dancer! Both become very successful, but their lives are also inextricably intertwined. Exactly what occurs and how it all ends is really something you should see for yourself. It's an excellent ganger film--much better than average. However of the three gangster films I mentioned, my personal favorite would have to be THE PUBLIC ENEMY, as it's acting isn't quite as "over-the-top" and features a little more action and excitement.
FYI--For an interesting error, watch Robinson's arm when he is shot towards the end of the film. Despite clearly being shot in the right arm, later the left arm is in a sling! I assume this was just a mistake and wasn't done as an inside joke.
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