Little Caesar (1931)

MERVYN LeROY

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  

USA, 1931.  First National Pictures.  Screenplay by , continuity by , based on the novel by .   Cinematography by .  Produced by , .   Music by .   roduction Design by .   Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  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 . 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 () 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.

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