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Little Caesar

September 16, 2010

50. Little Caesar
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
USA, 1930 (some sources say 1931)

IMDB | allmovie

Reviewed by Rachel
Second viewing


The rise and fall of ambitious mobster Caesar Enrico Bandello, aka Rico, aka Little Caesar. (You need a lot of nicknames in this racket, see.)

Essential Scene:

Rico (Edward G. Robinson) sets up a meeting with his old friend Joe Massara (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.), who was part of one of Rico’s jobs. Rico has heard the cops are getting close to Joe.

Joe has been trying to leave the mob world to pursue dancing and be with his girlfriend. Rico wants Joe to join him while he takes on more mob responsibility.

Joe: It can’t be me, Rico. I’ve quit.

Rico: You didn’t quit. Nobody ever quit me.

Rico knows what Joe cares about most in the world – his girlfriend, Olga. Rico threatens to kill Olga, hoping Joe will give in to save her life.

Joe: Rico, listen. I love her. We’re in love with one another. Don’t that mean nothing to ya?

Rico: Nothing. Less than nothing. Love. Soft stuff!

Rico thinks that softies spill things. Joe knows too much, and letting him go would be risky. Joe still refuses.

Rico: You’re hangin’ around with me, see?

Joe: No, I’m not.

Rico: Alright. You go back to that dame… and it’s suicide. Suicide for both of ya.


Little Caesar can seem a little dated and a little cliché now. But what is cliché now was new then, and that must be remembered.

It was one of the first mobster films, and most probably the best. (I say “most probably,” I haven’t seen ’em all!) However, Hollywood seemed to be careful not to cast any real Italians! It was also one of the first popular antihero films. Rico was ruthless, mean and uncaring but he was our leading man, and for a while he showed that crime paid.

So, a good reason to see the film? Anything that started something is always worth seeing. I’ll watch Edward G. Robinson in anything, personally…

Fascinating Fact:

For those who don’t already know, Edward G.Robinson was the inspiration for the voice of Chief Wiggum, of Simpsons fame. Trust me, it’s uncanny!

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