Little Caeser (1931) Classic Film Review

Rico is a small-time hood who knocks off gas stations for whatever he can take. He heads east and signs up with Sam Vettori’s mob. A New Year’s Eve robbery at Little Arnie Lorch’s casino results in the death of the new crime commissioner Alvin McClure. Rico’s good friend Joe Massara, who works at the club as a professional dancer, works as the gang’s lookout man and wants out of the gang. Rico is ambitious and eventually takes over Vettori’s gang; he then moves up to the next echelon pushing out Diamond Pete Montana. When he orders Joe to dump his girlfriend Olga and re-join the gang, Olga decides there’s only one way out for them – From IMDB

See the source image

Hailed as the film that sparked the Gangster film craze from the early thirties, this film is easily one of the most influential film made in Early Hollywood. And while gangster films certainly aren’t my cup of tea, especially not modern ones, and while this film won’t land in my favourite films of the year, it was more enjoyable than I was expecting it to be and I was actually pretty engrossed in the whole affair.

Its all pretty standard stuff. Lots of melodrama, lots of gangster talk in think Chicago accents, and lots of shady deals and double crossings. All this is stuff we have come to know and expect from the genre, but back in 1931, this was all new and exciting, so you can’t really say that it’s predictable or formulaic, because this is the film that set the formula, everything else just followed after it.

In one of his most iconic roles, Edward Robinson is a powerhouse here. Uttering one of his most iconic lines at the end of the film, and giving a really strong performance throughout. From the big man in charge, to the broken and defamed man we see at the end of the film, he firmly solidifies himself as one of the greatest actors of the period. While his performance was outstanding, I didn’t feel the same from any of his co-stars. None of their characters where given much room to grow, or had much in the way of personality. And the one that did, Tony, easily the most interesting of the gang with his troubled sense of morality, was put an end to pretty quick.

I can’t say I am looking forward to the rash of Gangster movies this film inspired, but this one, as one of the originals, was a pretty great effort.

Final Rating: 3.5 Stars


  • Director
    • Mervyn LeRoy
  • Writers
    • W.R. Burnett(novel)
    • Francis Edward Faragoh(dialogue)
    • Robert N. Lee
  • Stars
    • Edward G. Robinson
    • Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
    • Glenda Farrell

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s