Friday, July 5, 2013

Little Caesar

1931, 78m, Mervyn LeRoy (director)
This vintage mobster film seems stereotyped at times, specially in the dialog and delivery style, which is probably a result of antiquity. It is a short, powerful drama, with a reserve of power and authenticity. The simple plot goes beyond being a genre piece (in fact, it is the first talking gangster film). It is a gripping, poignant and compassionate story about ambition, courage, ego and loyalty. Rico, rising from the gutter only to return, finally lies stricken, a template for many a film to follow, like Asphalt Jungle and Breathless. After all, crime, punishment and conflict are the essence of tragedy. One may also add that the criminals are innocuous by contemporary standards.
Empire Magazine:
"It's a fully-realized performance and still imitated: Robinson's bullfrog features and strutting bantam walk, with the snarled catchphrases ("The bigger they I come, the harder they fall") ...remain an archetype of the gangster.....The last act is surprisingly moving. In the first great gangster death scene, the fatally wounded and disbelieving antihero breathes "Mother of Mercy, is this the end of Rico?""

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