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Little Caesar (RosettaBooks Into Film) by [Burnett, W. R.]
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Little Caesar (RosettaBooks Into Film) Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A notable collection of screenplays... All reproduce the film as shot, with extensive data... [and] full production credits." - American Cinematographer"

From the Back Cover

This book is about a 1931 Hollywood gangster classic. The Hollywood film industry responded to the dark economic conditions of the 1930's with escapist and nontopical films.

Product Details

  • File Size: 396 KB
  • Print Length: 200 pages
  • Publisher: RosettaBooks (January 9, 2014)
  • Publication Date: January 9, 2014
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003XRELP2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,022,922 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This novel is a masterpiece of spare prose, vividly telling the story of the rise and fall of a 1920s gangster in 1/2 to 1/3 the number of pages that a present-day writer would take. The novel is fast-paced and expertly evokes the era, though readers unfamiliar with the times might have a little trouble with some of the slang expressions. Like his The Asphalt Jungle, this became the template for numerous subsequent imitations, including the films The Long Good Friday and Scarface.
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Format: Hardcover
W. R. Burnett was born to a wealthy Ohio family and moved to Chicago in 1927 where he became a desk clerk at the Northmere Hotel. There he got to know a mob hit man named Barber and other gangland figures. He developed a feel for the 1920s Chicago underworld, capturing their speech in the terse dialogue of Little Caesar.

In fact, reading the dialogue, I couldn't help hearing Edward G. Robinson in the movie Little Caesar (1931). I truly believe that Burnett's clipped dialogue played a big part in creating Robinson's gangster persona for many movies.

Here, the cops are coming after the main character; and his girl Blondy wants to get away along with him:

"Nothing doing, Blondy. I'm traveling fast and I can't be bothered with no dame . . ."

" . . . It's all over now, and you stay planted, Blondy, and as soon as I get a chance I'll send you a stake. . . ."

(Blondy screams)

"Shut your mouth . . .and if the bulls come up the front way, kid `em along. Make `em think you got me hid, see?"

Even more significantly, Burnett saw the world a new way--through the eyes of gangland killers. And he opened that world to readers of Little Caesar.

Little Caesar tells of Cesare Bandello, or Rico, a crook from Youngstown on the rise in Chicago. In Little Caesar, Burnett presents the essence of each character in few words.

"Sam Vettori sat staring into Halsted Street. He was a big man, fat as a hog, with a dark, oily complexion, kinky black hair and a fat, aquiline face. In repose he had an air of lethargic good nature; due entirely to his bulk; for in reality he was sullen, bad tempered, and cunning."

So begins the story, telling just about all the reader needs to know about gang leader Sam Vettori.
Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Imagine yourself being flown back in time to the late 1930's and dropped of into a dark and lonely alley on the north side of Chicago, commonly known as Little Italy. This area, ruled by the mob, forms the setting for Little Caesar, world's first gangster novel.
Sam Vettori is one of the toughest gang-bosses of Little Italy, but his days are counted. A new ambitious predator is on the verge of throwing Sam from his throne. Cesare Bandello, commonly known a 'Rico', is that guy. On more than one area has Rico proven to be Sam's superior, but on pulling the strings Sam stays the expert. That's why both decide to co-operate. But when a robbery turns bad -a captain of the police gets killed- everyone starts fending for themselves.
Little Caesar is simply a masterpiece. Not only because it is the first of its kind and it gave birth to a whole range of gangster fiction, but also because the peculiar way it is composed. Although it is written in an almost objective and factual style -almost like in a newspaper-, it still succeeds in getting the reader emotionally involved into the action. The action itself, of which there is plenty, is being reported in a very compact narrative, which gives the story a fast and suspenseful pace.
One warning though: the book contains quite some thirties-slang, which might disturb the inexperienced reader. Do you know what happens if someone turns yellow, for example?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Written in a straightforward and almost colorless style, this book reads a bit like a docudrama, or even a long film treatment, so it's not surprising to learn that the author went on to a very successful career as a screenwriter. Author Burnett gives us an entertaining peek at a presumably typical rise-and-fall in the Chicago underworld of the early twentieth century, long before this type of material was well-mined by others. As usual, we are indebted to Otto Penzler for a beautiful edition; the jacket art is a deco masterpiece.
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Format: Kindle Edition
This novel (which is strikingly different from the great film based on it) is a masterpiece. First published in 1929, it foreshadows the best work of George V. Higgins (I think it must have been an influence on The Friends of Eddie Coyle, my favorite novel written in English), Elmore Leonard and Quentin Tarantino. Told mostly in dialogue, it’s a story of power, hubris, ambition, cowardice and social class, and shows that the world of organized crime is no different than supposedly “legitimate” business. Aside from the period dialogue, which I found fascinating, it’s a story that could be happening today. And, of course, it is happening today.
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