Rico is a small-time hood who knocks off gas stations for whatever he can take. He heads east and signs up with Sam Vettori's mob. A New Year's Eve robbery at Little Arnie Lorch's casino results in the death of the new crime commissioner Alvin McClure. Rico's good friend Joe Massara, who works at the club as a professional dancer, works as the gang's lookout man and wants out of the gang. Rico is ambitious and eventually takes over Vettori's gang; he then moves up to the next echelon pushing out Diamond Pete Montana. When he orders Joe to dump his girlfriend Olga and re-join the gang, Olga decides there's only one way out for them.Written by
Speculation has it that a federal anti-organized crime law--The Racketeering Influence Corrupt Organization Act, or RICO--got its acronym from Edward G. Robinson's character. See more »
Another problem with the scene in which Rico is wounded in the arm: when Rico leaves the newsstand heading toward the scene of his ambush, he's walking from left to right (as seen by the audience, the point of view referred to here throughout). Then we cut to the truck, with its concealed gunman, and it's heading toward him from the opposite direction. The truck's starting point, therefore, must have been in front of Rico, or to his right. But the trail of bullet holes created by the moving gun begins behind Rico, that is, to his left. Or in other words, the bullets striking the plate glass window behind Rico should have moved from right to left, not left to right, as they do in the movie. See more »
In the 1954 re-release, a foreword crawl was added, warning that the "heroes" of Little Caesar and The Public Enemy represent "a problem that sooner or later we, the public, must solve." This version is often shown on cable channels. See more »
Seminal gangster film about the rise and fall of Enrico Bandello, a Chicago hoodlum, based on the novel by W.R. Burnett. The prototype for Enrico was, like so many other gangster heroes, mobster Al Capone. If you know a little bit about his life story, you got your basic gangster plot for practically all films that followed, like Tony Camonte in SCARFACE.
This film was the first of "the big three", together with PUBLIC ENEMY (1931) and SCARFACE: SHAME OF THE NATION (1932) and provided the blueprint for the modern gangster crime flic. It was the first gangster film to reach a wide audience and launched Edward G. Robinson to stardom. The story is simple and straightforward and might feel a little overly familiar to modern audiences, but the film lost little of its power and still holds up pretty well. It's a tough movie, but mostly tough talking with not much violence on screen.
But the film would probably be instantly forgettable without Robinson's superb performance. Whenever he's on screen, his presence is incredibly menacing. The rest of the cast is so so, but Thomas Jackson as Flaherty, Rico's nemesis, gives a wonderfully cynical performance, mocking Rico and all the other gangsters. Like most other early gangster films, it lacks the real emotional depth and complexity that came with later films, like the French gangster films of the fifties or THE GODFATHER and was made primarily as popular entertainment. Pleasant entertainment nevertheless with Edward G. Robinson portraying the first classic gangster role in screen history.
Camera Obscura --- 8/10
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