Thursday, November 25, 2010
LITTLE CAESAR (1931). Director: Mervyn Leroy.
"Mother of mercy -- is this the end of Rico?"
The great Edward G. Robinson became a star with this exciting and entertaining gangster flick. Rico (Robinson) wants to be somebody and have everything while his buddy Joey (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., who comes off convincingly lower-class) just wants to be a dancer. The two should have just gone their separate ways, but Rico seems obsessed with his pal [any homoerotic aspects of this go unexplored]. Rico rises in the rackets until he takes over an important gang, and forces his old pal Joey to help him rip off the establishment where he entertains with his girlfriend, Olga (Glenda Farrell). Rico gets bigger and bigger but there are forces conspiring against him ... Robinson is just terrific, and he has a solid supporting cast, including the aforementioned performers as well as Thomas Jackson as Sgt. Flaherty, William Collier Jr. as Tony, and Sidney Blackmer [who had an important role many years later in Rosemary's Baby] as "Big Boy."
Verdict: Fun to watch Robinson rise and fall. ***1/2.