21 user 9 critic

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.


Roy Del Ruth


Robert Lord (original screen play), Wilson Mizner (original screen play)




Complete credited cast:
Edward G. Robinson ... James Francis 'Bugs' Ahearn
Mary Astor ... Ruth Wayburn
Helen Vinson ... Polly Cass
Russell Hopton ... Al Daniels
Kenneth Thomson ... John Stanley
Shirley Grey ... Edith Merriam
Berton Churchill ... Donald Hadley Cass
Don Dillaway ... Gordon Cass (as Donald Dillaway)
Louise Mackintosh ... Mrs. Dudley Hadley Cass


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


EX-GANGSTER PUT ON SPOT BY SOCIETY! Gang Molls and Debutantes were all alike to him until a sweet young thing from the social register took him for a ride- on a polo pony! See what happens when a blue-blood of the underworld buys his way into Society's Blue Book! (Print Ad-Saratogian, ((Saratoga Springs, NY)) 5 June 1933) See more »


Comedy | Crime | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


"Bugs" and "Al" are incredulous that they're being charged $45 a day for a room at the Santa Barbara Biltmore Hotel. That's equivalent to $774 in 2019 dollars. See more »


The single-engine plane that Ahern's boys fly out to California in would be vastly over-loaded with that many large men in especially with all the weapons they've brought along. See more »


James Francis 'Bugs': I'm gonna mingle with the upper classes. I'm gonna be a gentleman!
See more »


References The Public Enemy (1931) See more »


Pilgrim's Chorus
From "Tannhäuser" (1843-5)
Written by Richard Wagner
Hummed by Edward G. Robinson
See more »

User Reviews

Moving up the society ladder
24 January 2019 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

My main reason for seeing 'The Little Giant' was to see fine actor Edward G. Robinson, who was in many great films and always a bright spot, in an early role. A role that was also a relatively different one, with him in comedy it was very different from his tough guy image, so it was interesting to see how he would fare in this regard. Another interest point was the film being one of the first gangster comedies.

'The Little Giant' turned out to be something of a little gem, nothing little about it. Found myself really entertained and relaxed watching it, with the odd shock/surprise thrown into the mix, and it is a shame that 'The Little Giant' is not known more than it is. It won't be one of my favourite films any time soon and won't consider it one of the greats, but it is not very well known at all these days, when there are films that are not particularly good yet make a lot of money and in some cases are popular, and obscurity is where it should be nowhere near close to being near or in. There is so much right with 'The Little Giant' and the not so good things are both barely any and not big at all.

Would have liked 'The Little Giant' to have been longer, an hour and a quarter seemed rather too on the brief side.

Helen Vinson is ever so slightly on the bland side but only in comparison with everybody else.

Robinson however is terrific, he is immensely gifted when it comes to the comic timing and he also gives the right amount of intensity when necessary. He has great chemistry with the cast, namely the very charming and zesty Mary Astor and with Russell Hopton, also very good. The characters are both interesting in personality and worth investing with. Roy DelRuth directs briskly, never allowing the energy or tension of the storytelling to slip (the film being full of both).

Just as good was the tightly structured and sharply witty script, that also had some remarkably ahead of its time content that one is shocked is in the film, the amoral tone likewise. The production values are slick and don't look as though they were made without enthusiasm or care. The film is always engaging and with never a dull spot.

Overall, a little gem. 8/10 Bethany Cox

4 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 21 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.





English | French

Release Date:

20 May 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Little Giant See more »


Box Office


$197,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed