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Little Caesar (1931)

Edward G. Robinson , Douglas Fairbanks Jr. , Elmer Clifton , Mervyn LeRoy  |  NR |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)

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Little Caesar + The Public Enemy + Scarface (Universal Cinema Classics)
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Product Details

  • Actors: Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Glenda Farrell, William Collier Jr., Sidney Blackmer
  • Directors: Elmer Clifton, Mervyn LeRoy, Rudolf Ising
  • Writers: Darryl F. Zanuck, Francis Edward Faragoh, Oliver Drake, Robert Lord, Robert N. Lee
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: January 25, 2005
  • Run Time: 78 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006HBLUK
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,685 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Little Caesar" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Leonard Maltin Hosts Warner Night at the Movies 1930, with newsreel, Spencer Tracy short "The Hard Guy," cartoon "Lady Play Your Mandolin," and theatrical trailers
  • New featurette: "Little Caesar: End of Rico, Beginning of the Antihero"
  • 1954 release foreword

Editorial Reviews

Masterful crime drama starring Edward G. Robinson as the Al Capone-inspired Italian hood who moves from petty thief to mob kingpin, blasting his machine gun all the way. Mervyn LeRoy's film hailed a new era in screen realism, made a star out of Robinson and gave us the line "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?" With Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Glenda Farrell. 78 min. Standard; Soundtrack: English Dolby Digital mono; Subtitles: English, Spanish, French; newsreel footage; bonus shorts "The Hard Guy" (1930), "Lady, Play Your Mandolin!" (1931); audio commentary; featurette; theatrical trailers. NOTE: This Title Is Out Of Print; Limit One Per Customer.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Little Caesar: Little in Height Only January 25, 2003
Format:VHS Tape
It is too easy to view LITTLE CAESAR and to laugh at the often caricatured voice of Edward G. Robinson as the small time hood who clawed a rapid rise to the top of Chicago's underworld only to tumble equally fast. What the modern viewer may fail to grasp is that when LITTLE CAESAR was released in 1930 Robinson was no star and the gangster movie did not exist as a genre. With his menacing voice and tough guy attitude, Robinson changed all that. It is because of him that later cinema gangsters like Pacino and Brando could strut their stuff.
At the beginning of the film, Robinson is Rico Bandello, the 'Little Caesar.' He drifts into Chicago and invites himself as a member of the ruling gang. Even then, with nothing but his gravitas and physical presence, he could take words that were meant to be conciliating and twist them into a snarl laden with menace. What I found interesting was that whenever Robinson went face to face with an adversary, Robinson forced him to look down at his own diminutive height as if to say, 'Your size means nothing, fool.' It becomes soon clear that the mob boss will surrender his place through default. Rico Bandello manages to cram into little more than an hour a case study in the ephemerality of the solitary gangster who relies more on his brutal personality than on some hired brains to run his criminal enterprise.
On a technical note, the sound track was at times incomprehensible, an excusable flaw since sound engineering had just begun the year before. Further, the dialogue sounds incredibly cliched, but again, to the audience of 1930, Rico's words were jarringly original. When a gasping, dying, Little Caesar spits out as a last snarl of defiance, 'Is this the end of Rico?', Edward G. could not have known that his ending of this gangster film was but the prologue of a series of crime movies that are as popular today as when Rico Bandello lay on a filthy street, shocking America with his surprisingly emotional epitaph.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No, it's not about pizza November 9, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
I had never seen a golden age gangster picture before so I decided to make a start with this one. I mainly rented it to see Douglas Fairbanks jr. (being a fan of Fairbanks Sr.'s silent films) I thoroughly enjoyed it.
A word of warning, this was made in 1930 and the sound cinema was still in it's infancy. Some of the acting is still between the mnore obvious emoting of silent cinema and the more subtle sound acting to come. Also, this was the start of a genre and so it is probably not as sleek as its successors.
That out of the way, this is the tale of the rise and fall of Rico (Edward G. Robinson) known as Little Caesar. A small time gunman who claws his way to the top of the mob and then tumbles from his throne. His downfall is caused, inadvertantly at first, by Joe (Fairbaks), his best friend from his small time hood days who became a nightclub preformer and wants to leave the mob behind.
Robinson chews up scenery as Rico and it is a joy to watch, in spite of sharing top billing, Fairbanks isn't in it all that much in the middle. Honorable mention goes to the actor who portrayed the head detective so well, he seemed to take almost satanic glee in catching crooks in their own egos.
Another sidepoint, Rico is not likable because he was never meant to be. Sure, his determination is interesting but underneath it all he is just a petty operator. This movie really has no hero (Joe is a bit weak and the detective is off his rocker in my opinion) and to have this in mind before watching will keep things enjoyable.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dancin'? Women? Where do they get you? May 5, 2005
There are some movies that defy criticism. LITTLE CAESAR is a creaky old early talkie that suffers from static camera movements and competently undistinguished direction by Mervyn LeRoy. LITTLE CAESAR is one of the most important movies in Hollywood history, boasting a memorable to immortal performance by Edgar G. Robinson as the title character, Cesare Enrico `Rico' Bandello, and one of the greatest endings in cinema (Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico!?) Whaddya know, whaddya say about a movie like LITTLE CAESAR?

I suppose you start by saying it's a great movie, but it sure feels old. Action takes place around concealed microphones, musical underscoring is virtually nonexistent, and some of the melodramatic elements - like the scene with the doting Italian mother - seem to belong to the age of Victoria, paper collars, and gas footlights. On the other hand, Robinson's performance as the brutal and ambitious gangster is timeless and close to perfect. There's a glowering, guttural, feral quality to it that pulls the movie up with him. His best scene comes towards the end of the film. The fallen and unrecognized Rico, unslept eyes dark and watery, hip flash of hooch nearly drained, listens as a couple of other flophouse denizens read aloud a newspaper article about the great, missing Little Caesar. Robinson grunts and mewls as the newspaper is read aloud, responding to what he hears. With nothing but facial expressions, body language and grunts Robinson pulls back the skin covering Rico's psyche and presents it for public inspection. It's a marvelous bit of business tucked into one of the greatest movie acting jobs ever.

The transfer print isn't pristine, but acceptable - usually pretty good.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fun Movie
If you like Edward G. You will love this movie. The man was talented and this is one of his best.
Published 1 month ago by Richard
5.0 out of 5 stars a good if barely disguised version of the Al Capone story.
A very enjoyable gangster movie. Edward G. Robinson, makes a convincing if generic version of big Al. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jonny D.
5.0 out of 5 stars DVD as advertised!
The DVD was listed as being near mint and so it was. The only thing that showed that it wasn't brand new was the missing shrink wrap. A great movie and a great seller. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Chris Henderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic Gangster Movie
This is the ultimate Classic Gangster Movie for all fans of Edward G. Robinson this is a essential Movie to own !!!
Published 8 months ago by Edward T Newberry
2.0 out of 5 stars a little out of date
not tobe compared with james cagney good to watch for a bedtime story ...or if you just want to watch something different
Published 10 months ago by WILLIAM FROEHLICH
4.0 out of 5 stars "You want me, you're going to have to come and get me!"
After its original theatrical run, WARNER's added to subsequent copies of LITTLE CAESAR a prefilm text scroll decrying the sorts of criminals seen here and in THE PUBLIC ENEMY... Read more
Published 14 months ago by Annie Van Auken
1.0 out of 5 stars Too slow
The Amazon movie player was very, very slow. I could not even finish the movie! It was really annoying. I will not buy another movie from amazon online player again.
Published 15 months ago by Kaci
4.0 out of 5 stars Who's Your Grandpa, Don Corleone?
To say this film can come across dated to viewers more accustomed to "The Godfather" and "Goodfellas" is to say the least. Read more
Published 18 months ago by R. L. MILLER
5.0 out of 5 stars Pleased
Great purchase. I was very pleased with the purchase. Would purchase from again. Product was all they said it was.
Published 19 months ago by KR
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid
Little Caesar is a good example of a film that is historically important but which has dated very poorly. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Cosmoetica
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