Thursday, July 21, 2011

Little Caesar (1931)

A Great Little Gangster Picture

- The pioneering gangster picture Little Caesar (1931) is still a must see movie 80 years after its first release. Acting legend Edward G. Robinson stars in his break-out film about small-time crook Rico Bandello's rise to the big-time. It does not even matter that the rest of the cast do not give much in the way of performances (although I did enjoy Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as Rico's pal Joe and Thomas E. Jackson as Sergeant Flaherty), Robinson carries the entire film on his back. Here, in this simple and short but sweet and stylish gangster flick, was the first time that audiences were introduced to Robinson's one-of-a-kind screen delivery and presence - and it would prove to be influential. As we watch Robinson's Rico character climb up the ladder from gas station robber to 30s crime mogul we not only see the template that others would follow in future gangster films but also an outline to the gangster problem that the United States faced during that time. Little Caesar (1931) is an integral piece to the gangster film genre: along with fellow gangster films The Public Enemy (1931) and Scarface (1932), it sparked a wave of gangster films from the 1930s onward and Edward G. Robinson's terrific portrayal of Enrico "Little Caesar" Bandello would infinitely influence the genre.

CBC Rating: 10/10

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