Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1931. First National Pictures. Screenplay by Francis Edward Faragoh, continuity by Robert N. Lee, based on the novel by W.R. Burnett. Cinematography by Tony Gaudio. Produced by Hal B. Wallis, Darryl F. Zanuck. Music by Erno Rapee. roduction Design by Anton Grot. Costume Design by Earl Luick. Film Editing by Ray Curtiss. Academy Awards 1930/1931.
The popularity of gangster films in the 1930s was the result of this film and Public Enemy being giant successes, and both of them remain milestones of the genre, this one in particular for the stylish tough-guy performance by Edward G. Robinson. While The Public Enemy remains as powerful today as it was then, Little Caesar hasn’t aged as well, with the dialogue coming across as hammy and Robinson’s delivery even more so. Viewed as a piece of history, however, all these drawbacks are forgiven, as are the scratchy acoustics that hail back to the birth of sound cinema. Robinson plays a small-time hood who rises to the rank of fully-gilded mob king, only to be betrayed by his best friend (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) and taken down by the police. Fans of GoodFellas and Gangs Of New York will want to take a look at one of gangland filmdom’s pioneers.