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Little Caesar (1931)

Not Rated | | Action, Crime, Drama | 25 January 1931 (USA)
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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 ... 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)
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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:

Little Caesar See more »

Company Credits

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 film was reviewed in Photoplay Magazine in December 1930 (on the newsstands in November), and ready for release in December 1930, but Warner Bros. brass felt it was not a Christmas picture. It officially debuted at the Strand Theatre in New York City on 9 January 1931. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

[last lines]
Caesar Enrico Bandello: Mother of Mercy! Is this the end of Rico?
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 »

Connections

Referenced in Next Stop, Greenwich Village (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

Neapolitana
(uncredited)
Music by Gustave Klemm
See more »

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User Reviews

 
This is one of the great early talkies and still a highly watchable movie dealing with a vicious gangster
8 June 2014 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Powerful portrait of the rise and fall of a nasty mobster extraordinarily performed by Edward G Robinson . A heinous and villain hoodlum named Rico (Edward G. Robinson) moves from the country to the big town and joins Sam Vettori's gang along with his fellow Joe Massara (Clark Gable was originally considered for the part but Jack L. Warner decided that Gable's ears were too big, and the role went to Douglas Fairbanks Jr. instead) to rise up through the ranks of the city underworld . Soon he becomes the boss of the mobsters and known as Little Caesar, and gets closer to the great gangster Pete Montana (Ralph Ince) and Big Boy (Sidney Blackmer) . The character of Cesare Enrico Bandello is not, as widely believed, based on Al Capone. Instead, he is based on Salvatore "Sam" Cardinella, a violent Chicago gangster who operated in the early years of Prohibition . And the role of Joe Massara was based on actor George Raft, who was associated with Owney Madden, the man who organized the taxi racket in New York City.

The movie results to be one of the great mobsters pictures , and an expertly directed film that made Edward G Robinson a superstar . Despite the film's huge success, the book's author, W.R. Burnett, was furious that no actual Italians were cast in the film . Classic gangster movie contains top-notch performances , intense drama , thrills , fast-paced , action , and a shocking final . Magnificent Edward G Robinson in the title role as a snarling and ominous gangster . In one scene, Edward G. Robinson had to fire a pistol while facing the camera , try as he might, he was unable to keep his eyes open each time he pulled the trigger . Producer Hal B. Wallis originally auditioned Edward G. Robinson for the supporting role of Otero -played in the film by George Stone- before deciding he was perfect as Rico . Although The Doorway to Hell(1930), a gangster film released by Warner Bros. in 1930 was a big hit at the time, most sources consider Little Caesar to be the film which started a brief craze for the genre in the early 1930s. The "Forward" that now appears on the beginning of the film was added for the 1954 re-release of Little Caesar and The public enemy (1931) as a combination package.

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 'Big Bill' 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. This First National Vitaphone early talking picture was well directed by Mervyn LeRoy and ready for release in December 1930, but Warner's brass felt it was not a Christmas picture , it officially debuted at the Strand Theatre in New York City on 9 January 1931. It ranked #9 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Gangster" in June 2008.


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