Can you name the notorious mobster that the title character is modeled on in Little Caesar (1930)? If your answer is Al Capone, you are correct. In a performance that became a prototype for all future movie gangster portrayals, Edward G. Robinson captured the essence of a ruthless killer like Capone with his portrayal of Cesare Enrico Bandello.
The first "talkie" gangster movie to capture the public's imagination, Mervyn LeRoy's Little Caesar started a cycle of crime-related movies that Warner Bros. Rode across the ensuing decade and right into World War II.
The violence in Little Caesar may seem tame by today's standards -- although seeing a proper print of the movie, such as the TCM print does restore some of that impact -- but it was shocking at the time, and proved riveting and even seductive, especially because it was tied to a very charismatic performance by Robinson. Between his portrayal and the sounds of pistols and Thompson sub machine guns, the movie was a sensory revelation and liberalized the violence that had been suggested purely by visuals in such silent gangster classics.
As for the actual filming of Little Caesar, Edward G. Robinson's aversion to the sound of gunfire was obvious from the beginning. According to LeRoy, "Every time he squeezed the trigger, he would screw up his eyes. Take after take, he would do the same thing. In the end, we had to tape up his eyelids to make sure it wouldn't show." Offscreen, Robinson was just the opposite of the vicious thugs he played onscreen. He was a kind and gracious gentleman and had a great appreciation for the fine arts - particularly painting, which he took up as a hobby.
Although Little Caesar is considered one of Robinson's most memorable performances, it was overlooked by the Academy Awards committee that year (the film only received one Oscar nomination for Best Writing Adaptation) and forever typecast Robinson in this type of role .
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaLittle Caesar
is a 1931 American pre-Code
crime film distributed by Warner Brothers
, directed by Mervyn LeRoy
, and starring Edward G. Robinson
, Glenda Farrell
, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
The film tells the story of a hoodlum who ascends the ranks of organized crime
until he reaches its upper echelons. The storyline was adapted from the novel of the same name by William R. Burnett
. Little Caesar
was Robinson's breakthrough role and immediately made him a major film star. The film is often listed as one of the first full-fledged gangster films
and continues to be well received by critics.
In 2000, Little Caesar
was included in the annual selection of 25 motion pictures added to the National Film Registry
of the Library of Congress
being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and recommended for preservation.The Library of Congress maintains a print.
"Style A" theatrical release poster of the 1931 American film Little Caesar.