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Encyclopedia > Little Caesar
Little Caesar

Original Poster from 1931
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Produced by Hal B. Wallis (uncredited)
Darryl F. Zanuck (uncredited)
Written by W.R. Burnett (novel)
Francis Edward Faragoh
Robert N. Lee (continuity)
Robert Lord (uncredited)
Darryl F. Zanuck (uncredited)
Starring Edward G. Robinson
Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
Glenda Farrell
Music by Erno Rapee (Musical Superviser)
Cinematography Tony Gaudio
Editing by Ray Curtiss
Distributed by Warner Bros./First National Pictures
Release date(s) January 9, 1931
Running time 79 min.
Country Flag of the United States United States
Language English
All Movie Guide profile
IMDb profile

Little Caesar is a 1931 crime film made during the Pre-Code era which tells the story of a man who works his way up the ranks of the mob until he reaches its upper heights. It stars Edward G. Robinson, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., and Glenda Farrell. The movie was adapted by Francis Edward Faragoh, Robert N. Lee, Robert Lord and Darryl F. Zanuck (uncredited) from the novel by William R. Burnett. It was directed by Mervyn LeRoy. Image File history File linksMetadata LittleCaesarP.jpg‎ [edit] Summary Poster for Little Caesar (1930) [edit] Licensing This image is of a movie poster, and the copyright for it is most likely owned by either the publisher of the movie or the studio which produced the movie in question. ... Mervyn LeRoy (October 15, 1900 - September 13, 1987) was an American film director, producer and sometime actor. ... Hal B. Wallis (September 14, 1898 – October 5, 1986) was an American motion picture producer. ... Darryl Francis Zanuck (September 5, 1902–December 22, 1979) was a producer, writer, actor and director who played a major part in the Hollywood studio system as one of its longest survivors (the length of his career being rivalled only by that of Adolph Zukor). ... William Ripley Burnett (November 25, 1899 - April 25, 1982), often credited as W.R. Burnett, is a novelist and screenwriter. ... Darryl Francis Zanuck (September 5, 1902–December 22, 1979) was a producer, writer, actor and director who played a major part in the Hollywood studio system as one of its longest survivors (the length of his career being rivalled only by that of Adolph Zukor). ... Edward Goldenberg Robinson (born Emanuel Goldenberg, Yiddish: עמנואל גולדנברג; December 12, 1893 – January 26, 1973) was an American stage and film actor of Romanian origin. ... Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. ... Glenda Farrell (June 30, 1904 – May 1, 1971) was an American film actress. ... Erno Rapeé (or Rapee) [ b 4 June 1891 in Budapest, Hungary, d 26 June 1945 in New York] was one of the most prolific conductors of the American symphony in the first half of the 1900s. ... Tony Gaudio Tony Gaudio (Gaetano Antonio Gaudio) (20 November 1883 - 10 August 1951) was the chief photographer for Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks Sr, and the first camerman to use a montage sequence in a film. ... “WB” redirects here. ... The First National Exhibitors Circuit was founded 1917 by the merger of 26 of the biggest First Run cinema chains in the United States of America, controlling more than 600 cinemas, more than 200 of them were First Run cinemas. ... is the 9th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 1931 (MCMXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1931 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Image File history File links This is a lossless scalable vector image. ... English is a West Germanic language originating in England, and the first language for most people in Australia, Canada, the Commonwealth Caribbean, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States of America (also commonly known as the Anglosphere). ... // Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff Ingagi, starring Sir Hubert Winstead Mata Hari, starring Greta Garbo and Lionel Barrymore City Lights starring Charles Chaplin Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde starring Fredric March Best Picture: Cimarron - MGM Best Actor: Lionel Barrymore - A Free Soul Best Actor: Wallace Beery - The Champ Best Actor: Fredric... A crime film, in its most general sense, is a film that deals with crime, criminal justice and the darker side of human nature. ... Pre-Code films were created before the Motion Picture Production Code or Hays Code took effect on 1 July 1934 in the United States of America. ... Edward Goldenberg Robinson (born Emanuel Goldenberg, Yiddish: עמנואל גולדנברג; December 12, 1893 – January 26, 1973) was an American stage and film actor of Romanian origin. ... Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. ... Glenda Farrell (June 30, 1904 – May 1, 1971) was an American film actress. ... Darryl Francis Zanuck (September 5, 1902–December 22, 1979) was a producer, writer, actor and director who played a major part in the Hollywood studio system as one of its longest survivors (the length of his career being rivalled only by that of Adolph Zukor). ... William Riley Burnett (November 25, 1899 - April 25, 1982), often credited as W. R. Burnett, was an American novelist and screenwriter. ... Mervyn LeRoy (October 15, 1900 - September 13, 1987) was an American film director, producer and sometime actor. ...



Little Caesar takes place in contemporary (1930) large city. It is a gangster film. Year 1930 (MCMXXX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display 1930 calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ...

The story centers around small-time crook Caesar Enrico Bandello (aka "Rico", played by Edward G. Robinson) and friend Joe Massara (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.). Both men head for Chicago to find their fortune. Joe, who wants to be a dancer, is more interested in fame and women and eventually meets Olga (Glenda Farrell). Rico joins the gang of Sam Vettori (Stanley Fields) and quickly gains control of the group. He then proceeds to push his way to the top. Rico becomes worried that his friend, Joe Massara, will betray him. He threatens Joe that he must forget about Olga and tries to bring him back into a life of crime. Rico is then shaken from his throne when Joe Massara betrays him to the cops. Hurt though he may be, Rico cannot bring himself to kill his former best friend. Desperate and alone, he retreats to the gutters from which he sprang. But when newspapers label him a coward, the defiant thug comes out of hiding with guns blasting. Escaping from the police, he is gunned down in a gutter by his archrival Sergeant Flaherty (Thomas Jackson). The film ends with a shot of a billboard showing Joe and Olga as famed dancers, whereas Rico dies poor and alone, an unspoken prophetic message that hard work will pay off, but crime will not. Edward Goldenberg Robinson (born Emanuel Goldenberg, Yiddish: עמנואל גולדנברג; December 12, 1893 – January 26, 1973) was an American stage and film actor of Romanian origin. ... Douglas Elton Fairbanks, Jr. ... Glenda Farrell (June 30, 1904 – May 1, 1971) was an American film actress. ... There have been several people named Thomas Jackson: Thomas J. Stonewall Jackson a famous Confederate general in the American Civil War Thomas Penfield Jackson American judge presiding most famously over the Microsoft antitrust case Thos. ...


The film opens with scrolling text, advising that gangsters such as are depicted in the film are a menace that the public (at the time) must confront.

After the titles and opening credits, the film then moves immediately into a gas station robbery committed by two men; one man drives a vehicle to the gas station at night. When the proprietor approaches, the other man shoves him back inside and turns out the lights. Gunshots follow moments later, after which the second man runs back to the car and they depart. Later, at an all-night diner, the same car is seen parked outside. Inside, one of the men sits at the counter while the other carefully winds the clock back a few hours, in an effort to provide them with an alibi for the robbery. The man at the counter is soon established to be Joe Massara, the vehicle's driver, while the man who resets the clock is established as the gunman, Caesar Enrico "Rico" Bandello. Reading the paper as they eat their food, Rico takes note of an article where top gangster "Diamond" Pete Montana was recently feted by his peers. Rico and Joe discuss the idea of moving east to Chicago. Discussing their plans, it is established that Rico wishes to gain the power and notoriety of gangsters like "Diamond" Pete. For his part, Joe merely wishes to exit the gangster lifestyle and go back to being a professional dancer, which he had done prior to meeting Rico--an idea which Rico scornfully disdains. Modern gas station A filling station, gas station or petrol station is a facility that sells fuel for road motor vehicles – usually petrol (US: gas/gasoline), diesel fuel and LPG. The term gas station is mostly particular to the United States of America and Canada, where petrol is known... For alibi used in the sense of a legal defense, see the Wiktionary entry Alibi. ...

After arriving in Chicago, both men take steps down their chosen paths; Joe becomes a professional dancer after meeting and falling in love with Olga, who works at a nightclub that is partly owned by Artie Lorch--a rival of Rico's new boss, Sam Vettori (who tags Rico with the nickname that becomes the title of the film). Rico and Vettori begin to clash almost immediately; Rico feels that Vettori is not too bright, and also is defensive of Joe, who Vettori thinks is too soft for criminal work. For his part, Vettori resents Rico's intelligence and ambition, feeling that his position as the boss is threatened. Matters are not helped much when Rico first tries to step out of place during a meeting between Lorch, Vettori, and "Diamond" Pete (who is the overboss of the other two), where Pete warns the two bosses about a man named McClure, who is the head of the new crime commission and apparently cannot be bribed; later, during a New Years' Eve robbery of the nightclub where Joe and Olga work, McClure is gunned down by Rico when he unintentionally interrupts the robbery. This also strains relations between Joe and Rico, as Joe is resentful of Rico having forced him to act as a lookout for the robbery due to his job at the nightclub. New Years Eve is December 31, the final day of the Gregorian year, and the day before New Years Day, New Years Eve is a separate observance from the observance of New Years Day. ...

Vettori is apoplectic when he hears of McClure's murder, but Rico, emboldened by his actions, verbally chastises Vettori. After a visit from the police (represented by Sgt. Flaherty), who are looking for potential clues in the murder of McClure, Rico seizes control of the gang completely, after refusing to split the money from the robbery the way Vettori wants to. In what would become a catchphrase used periodically in the film, Rico tells his boss that he can "dish it out" but not take it; Vettori's position is further weakened when his own men (including one named Otero, who becomes a proponent of Rico's ideas prior to the robbery) turn their backs on him. Defeated, Vettori silently acquiesces to Rico's control of the gang (it is noteworthy that Rico did not simply have Vettori eliminated).

All is not well for Rico, though; the driver of Rico's getaway car froze during the robbery (causing Rico to slap him in order to shake him out of his funk), and later crashes the car instead of disposing of it (which prompted the visit to Vettori's office from the police). At his mother's home, he is seen suffering immensely from feelings of guilt, and decides to confess to a priest. He is stopped by Otero on the way, and after refusing his share of the robbery money, he informs Otero of his plans. Otero frantically rushes to inform Rico, who then proceeds to find the driver and shoot him in cold blood on the steps of the church. He is later given a lavish funeral by Rico and the other mobsters.

Rico moves from strength to strength, and is eventually feted at a banquet, in a similar fashion to the banquet given for "Diamond" Pete that Rico read about earlier in the film; it is also established that even though it is the era of Prohibition and illegal liquor sales are booming, Rico is himself a teetotaler. For his part, Joe continues to see Olga and distance himself from Rico's life of crime. However, after hearing Lorch and associates discuss a planned hit on Rico, he informs one of Rico's men. Although they are too late to stop the hit, Rico's men arrive afterwards; the hit was bungled as the gunmen (using Thompson submachine guns from a milk wagon) were poor shots and only grazed Rico's arm. Rico then confronts Lorch, storming the nightclub with his men and offering Lorch a choice: leave town under his own power, or leave in a pine box. A society column article (seen in newspapers that Flaherty and others read) notes that Lorch has departed for Detroit. The term Prohibition, also known as A Dry Law, refers to a law in a certain country by which the manufacture, transportation, import, export, and sale of alcoholic beverages is restricted or illegal. ... Teetotalism is the principle or practice of complete abstinence from alcoholic beverages. ... For the Clash song, see Tommy Gun (song). ... Motto: Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus (We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes - this motto was adopted after the disastrous 1805 fire that devastated the city) Nickname: The Motor City and Motown Location in Wayne County, Michigan Founded Incorporated July 24, 1701 1815  County Wayne County Mayor...

Eventually, Rico is invited up to see the man known only as the "Big Boy", who would apparently be the film's equivalent to the Italian Mafia's capo di tutti capi. After a humorous scene where Otero (who has become Rico's right-hand man) assists a clearly uncomfortable Rico with putting on a tuxedo, Rico is informed by the "Big Boy" that they wish him to take "Diamond" Pete's place. Rico does so, then contacts his old friend Joe. Although they have not spoken in a long time, Rico presumes that Joe is still interested in working for him again, in a more direct fashion. When Joe refuses to return to Rico's gang (citing his love for Olga), Rico becomes enraged, telling Joe that if he returns to Olga, he is signing the death warrant for both of them. Rico departs to answer a phone call; when he returns, Joe is gone. This article is about the organized crime groups. ... This does not cite its references or sources. ... Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and U.S. President Ronald Reagan wearing black tie with wives in Quebec, Canada, March 18, 1985. ...

Joe, in a panic, tells Olga of what Rico has said and tries to get her to leave town with him. Olga, however, has decided enough is enough and tries to convince Joe to contact Sgt. Flaherty and turn state's evidence on Rico. Olga calls Flaherty, but Rico and Otero arrive before the police do. Joe then boldly challenges Rico to kill him; in a dramatic sequence, Rico approaches Joe, preparing to shoot him at point blank range. However, Rico finds he cannot kill his old friend. At that moment, the police arrive, and during a struggle Joe is shot and wounded. Rico and Otero make their way down the fire escape and into an alley; Otero is killed and Rico is forced to become a fugitive. Unable to return to his home and retrieve his money, he is forced to stay at Ma Magdalena's, a grocery store he has established as a safe house (and is subsequently blackmailed by Ma when she refuses to give him more than $150 out of the $10,000 he had previously stashed there). Immunity confers a status on a person or body that makes that person or body free from otherwise legal obligations such as, for example, liability for damages or punishment for criminal acts. ... In law enforcement and intelligence jargon of intelligence agencies and police forces, a secured location, suitable for hiding witnesses, agents or other persons perceived as being in danger. ...

Time passes, and Rico is next seen in a flophouse, having reached his lowest point; he is no longer the suave and confident character he once was, and has even taken up drinking. When listening to some of the other men in the flophouse read an interview with Flaherty (where Flaherty spares no effort in insulting Rico and calling him a coward, even using Rico's own "dish it out" phrase), Rico becomes incensed and calls Flaherty, bragging that he will once again rise to the top of the underworld. Flaherty has the call traced, however, and catches up with Rico as he is staggering down the street. In a shootout (ironically carried out in front of a billboard announcing Joe and Olga's hit musical), Rico is mortally wounded by Flaherty; as he dies he utters what has since become a famous quote, "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?" A flophouse or dosshouse is a place that offers very cheap lodging, generally by providing only minimal services. ...

Famous Quotes

"Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?" - Edward G. Robinson as "Rico" Bandello saying his final words.

(This is an early example of Hollywood censorship- in the novel the line reads "Mother of God, is this the end of Rico?", and a take was also filmed with Robinson saying it verbatim. However, the studio felt that the line would be blasphemous, coming out of the mouth of a murderous villain, and the alternate take was used instead.)

The line is referenced in The Simpsons episode, Lemon of Troy when Bart's friend says, "Is this the end of Milhouse?" Simpsons redirects here. ... Lemon of Troy is the 24th episode of The Simpsons sixth season, which premiered on the Fox network on May 14, 1995. ...

Acclaim and Legacy

Little Caesar was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Writing, Adaptation. Academy Award The Academy Awards, popularly known as the Oscars, are the most prominent and most watched film awards ceremony in the world. ... The Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay is one of the Academy Awards, the most prominent film awards in the United States. ...

In 2000 the United States Library of Congress deemed the original film "culturally significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. Year 2000 (MM) was a leap year starting on Saturday (link will display full 2000 Gregorian calendar). ... Construction of the Thomas Jefferson Building, from July 8, 1888 to May 15, 1894. ... The National Film Registry is the registry of films selected by the United States National Film Preservation Board for preservation in the Library of Congress. ...

It has been speculated, but never confirmed, that the anti-organized crime statutes in the United States were dubbed RICO in a sly homage to Little Caesar. The original drafter of the RICO bill has refused to confirm or deny this. [1] The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (commonly referred to as RICO) is a United States federal law which provides for extended penalties for criminal acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Little Caesar (1943 words)
Caesar is set even farther apart from the cold-hearted gangster of the 1920's film era by his love for Joe.
Caesar's pursuit of the American dream as well as his failure to obtain it, made him as made him as endearing to the populace as the doomed Gatsby.
Gangsters in the 1920's when Caesar was beguiled to head to the city were, "revealed as an enviable hero, quick and intelligent, refined, influential politically and powerfully financially" (Yaquinto).
Pizza and Products Menu - Little Caesars Pizza (261 words)
Little Caesar proudly shows his spirit at 39054 Van Dyke in Sterling Heights, Michigan as the Detroit Tigers compete for the World Series Championship.
Little Caesars Pizza was founded in 1959 by Mike and Marian Ilitch, and Mike Ilitch acquired the Detroit Tigers in 1992.
Little Caesars® salads are available in two sizes: individual and family.
  More results at FactBites »



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