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
The character Diamond Pete Montana was modeled on Jim Colosimo, who was murdered by Al Capone; and "The Big Boy" was based on corrupt politician William Hale Thompson, Mayor of Chicago. The underworld banquet sequence was also based on a real event--a notorious party in honor of two gangsters, Charles Dion O'Bannion and Samuel J. "Nails" Morton, which received unfavorable coverage in the Chicago press. See more »
After Tony was killed he received a big funeral possession however historically such a traditional big send-off would only have been reserved for a major mob boss not a low-level hood. See more »
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 »
Robinson's Performance Highlights A Good Production That Still Works
Edward G. Robinson's memorable performance in "Little Caesar" is rightfully one of his best-remembered roles. While he deserves also to be remembered for his versatility in many other performances as well, it's easy to see why this one in particular is still remembered. Along with James Cagney's role in "The Public Enemy", Robinson's portrayal here helped to exemplify the kinds of characters that for some time defined the genre.
The story is not without interest in itself, as it follows the rise and decline of various gangsters and their followers. The fragile nature of their form of 'power' comes across quite clearly, and of course there is plenty of action as well. It's not especially subtle, but it wasn't supposed to be. The supporting cast all give solid performances, but Robinson's character is always the center of attention. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. has the most interesting character to work with among the supporting roles.
The story moves at a good pace, especially given its release date, and is over almost before you know it. Even aside from Robinson, it's one of the better features of the earliest years of sound movies, handling the dialogue and sound better than most. Like "The Public Enemy", it was set in its own time, but it's a good production overall that still works rather well decades later.
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