Little Caesar (1931), starring Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Glenda Farrell, William Collier Jr.
Synopsis of Little Caesar
Editorial review of Little Caesar
Edward G. Robinson stars in this classic gangster drama about man who ruthlessly murders his way to the top, controlling the mob as Little Caesar. Small-time, small-town hood Cesare Enrico “Rico” Bandello (Robinson) vows to rule the rackets and not be “just another mug.” With his friend Joe Massara (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), Rico moves to the city, where he uses murder–including the assassination of the police commissioner–to advance rapidly within the mob … until he attempts to take over the entire underworld.
Rico (Robinson) hears that trusted friend Joe (Fairbanks), who quit the gang to dance professionally, will rat on him to the police along with girlfriend Olga (Farrell). He confronts them with pistol drawn and Joe clings to Olga as he urges Rico to pull the trigger. A full screen close-up of Robinson’s sweaty face reveals a tortured soul who can’t bring himself to murder a pal. This act of loyalty will ultimately cost Little Caesar his life.
After a meteoric rise to the top of the crime ladder Rico falls just as quickly into poverty and obscurity. Months after his disappearance, a series of insulting newspaper comments from cop nemesis Sgt. Flaherty (Jackson) causes drunken Rico to threaten him from a flophouse pay phone. This call is traced, officers dispatched and Rico is quickly cornered behind a billboard. When he scorns Flaherty’s demands for surrender, Rico is machine-gunned down. Before expiring, we hear his famous lament to no one: “Mother of Mercy! Is this the end of Rico?” The camera zooms back to reveal the billboard’s ad is for a smash hit stage show starring Joe and Olga.