Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 18, 2021


Edward G. Robinson
(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.


angelman66 said...

This is a great one I need to see again, though I must admit I like when Robinson softened up on the tough guy image in the 1940s with films like Double Indemnity and Our Vines Have Tender Grapes. Also love him in his last film, Soylent Green, a very touching performance as well!
- Chris

William said...

Yes, I'm glad you reminded me of that. I have the DVD, set it aside, and forgot all about it. Tome to take another look at that one. Robinson was one of the acting giants.