Monday, June 11, 2012
LITTLE CAESAR (1930)
"It was what happened in the streets of Chicago that made that city synonymous with murder and mayhem for a generation.” –from the Ken Burns’s documentary Prohibition
Chicago/Prohibition week (1 of 7)
Dramatic gold has been spun by Hollywood depicting lawless Chicago during the days of prohibition. Sometimes it’s in the forefront, as in Little Caesar and sometimes it’s on the periphery, as in Some Like It Hot. The 1001 Movie list has six movies that I can find depicting lawless Chicago in some form during Prohibition.
Day 1 Little Caesar (1930)
The prototype for the American gangster movie and first in a trilogy of films from this era depicting a rise to power of a lowly hood and establishing the gangster movie into how we still define that genre.
Random thoughts: The rules are all set out for the prohibition gangster from Chicago. Stick to your territory and everything will be fine. But once you break the rules set out for you or venture outside your prescribed region, you will always find trouble and plenty of it! Well, it happens here and it will happen again, but crime doesn't pay, Rico!
Edward G. Robinson doesn’t look like your typical movie star, but he sure is fun to watch. When I think of him, I still remember the line he says to fellow poker hustler Steve McQueen in The Cincinnati Kid, ‘You’re good kid, but as long as I’m around, you’ll always be second best.” (Line most effective if you do a Robinson impersonation while repeating it.)
I think Little Caesar would make a great double bill with the Robinson/Cagney vehicle Smart Money, where Edward G. plays a kindler/gentler version of his Little Caesar character.
“Listen you crummy, flatfooted copper…I’ll show you whether I lost my nerve…I’m coming after you see, and I’m gonna put one in your dirty hide for every lying crack you made about me, see? I’ll show you who’s gonna finish up in the gutter…Get your hat and start running, see, because you’re all through. Call up the papers and tell them that you rotten dirty, lying copper!”