HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Boys from County Hell
All Hands On Deck
Teddy
Beasts Clawing at Straws
Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)
Windom's Way
True Don Quixote, The
Babymother
Mitchells vs. the Machines, The
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Unholy, The
How to Deter a Robber
Antebellum
Offering, The
Enola Holmes
Big Calamity, The
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Settlers
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Kandisha
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Plurality
   
 
Newest Articles
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
   
 
  Little Caesar Mother of mercy...
Year: 1931
Director: Mervyn Le Roy
Stars: Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr, Glenda Farrell, William Collier Jr, Sidney Blackmer, Ralph Ince, Thomas E. Jackson, Stanley Fields, Maurice Black, George E. Stone
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Late one night, a car drives into a lonely gas station. A figure emerges holding a gun and enters the payment office. Shots are heard, the figure reappears, and the car accelerates away. In the next shot a hand furtively resets a clock in a roadside diner to read 20 minutes earlier.

The hand belongs to Cesare Enrico 'Rico' Bandello (Edward G. Robinson), who is tired of a life of small-time holdups and wants to move into the big leagues of organised crime. He decides he and friend Joe Massara (Douglas Fairbanks Jr) will head east to Chicago to be taken up by a real 'mob'. Joe, however, has doubts about a life of crime and wants to return to working as a professional exhibition dancer. Rico jeers at him about living a soft life surrounded by emasculating women.

In the big city Rico's taste for violence becomes both the key to success and the cause of his downfall. In short order he takes the place of Sam Vettori (Stanley Fields) and Diamond Pete Montana (Ralph Ince) until the 'Big Boy' (Sidney Blackmer) gives Rico control of the entire East Side.

Rico's only worry that his old friend Joe knows too much. At first he tries to force Joe back into working for him, then unsuccessfully tries to kill him. Joe's girlfriend Olga (Glenda Farrell) persuades Joe to turn State's evidence and Rico's fall is as swift as his rise. Finally cornered and machine gunned by police, Rico utters his final words: “Mother of mercy... is this the end of Rico?”

This film single-handedly kickstarted the Warner Brothers “gangster cycle” of the 1930's which would make stars of James Cagney, George Raft and (after more than his fair share of false starts) Humphrey Bogart.

Like so many of the 1930's gangster films, Little Caesar tries to have its cake and eat it: graphically portraying on the screen what it claimed to condemn, in terms of violence and the gangsters' disdain for the law and its enforcers. (There is an early version of the classic gangster motif, a character gunned down on the steps of a church when trying to seek redemption.) When the film was re-released it carried a heavily moralistic written prologue to ensure audiences got the message. In fact, although we know Rico is undoubtedly involved in organised crime, nothing is said specifically about what his outfit does. They rob a nightclub at one point, which is hardly a sustainable business. Nothing is ever actually said about Prohibition, gambling, protection rackets or (God forbid) prostitution.

The most notorious aspect of the film is the implication that Rico is, in fact, a repressed gay man. This is hinted at by his sidekick Otero's rather too enthusiastic admiration of Rico, Rico's great affinity for Joe (his disappointment when Joe doesn't appear at a special banquet, and inability to kill Joe in cold blood) and Rico's complete lack of interest in relationships with women. Particularly noteworthy is a scene where Otero (George E. Stone) is dressing Rico in evening clothes and Rico sashays in front of a mirror, admiring his own reflection with a handkerchief in one limp-wristed hand. Novelist W. R. Burnett wrote to Warners complaining specifically about this aspect of the film.

The film shows some of its age in its filming technique, with almost all of the scenes interiors, but it is remarkable how sound technology was already improving and camera movement was returning to cinema, and a modest use of montage showed the rise and fall of Rico's career. Although now over 80 years old Little Caesar still packs a punch as a crime melodrama and the star performance of Edward G. Robinson retains its power.
Reviewer: Enoch Sneed

 

This review has been viewed 2610 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: