05/26/2016  
Take Me To The River on Blu-ray & DVD Feb 5Phantom From 10,000 Leagues (1956) on Blu-ray & DVD Jan 5Condemned on DVD & Blu-ray Jan 5Broad City: Season 2 on DVD Jan 5McHale's Navy: The Complete Series on DVD No 17Return to Sender on Blu-ray & DVD Sep 29The Phantom of the Opera with Lon Chaney Blu-ray & DVD Oct 13

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

The Voice Finale: Alisan Porter Wins Season 10 ...
Pink's Hairstylist on Her Billboard Music Awards Look...
Adele's Send My Love to Your New Lover video: Director ...
Bryan Cranston Mesmerizes as LBJ in HBO's 'All the Way'...
Kristin Chenoweth takes on a different kind of role ...
Survivor: Kaoh Rong: And the winner is... ...
Ghostbusters Are Desperately Trying to Save New York Ci...
The Beach Boys' 'Pet Sounds' Turns 50: How Brian Wilson...
Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom Pack on the PDA at Cannes ...
On 'Formation' World Tour, Beyonce Through 'Lemonade'-...





Microsoft Store

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Warner Home Video presents
Little Caesar (1930)

"Mother of Mercy—is this the end of Rico?"
- Caesar Enrico "Little Caesar" Bandello, alias Rico (Edward G. Robinson)

Review By: Nate Meyers  
Published: January 24, 2005

Stars: Edward G. Robinson
Other Stars: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Glenda Farrell, William Collier, Jr., Sidney Blackmer, Ralph Ince, Thomas Jackson, Stanley Fields, Maurice Black, Armand Keliz, Nick Bela
Director: Mervyn LeRoy

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (mild gunplay)
Run Time: 01h:18m:22s
Release Date: January 25, 2005
UPC: 012569672826
Genre: gangster


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ B+B-C B+

DVD Review

Practically since man started telling stories, there's been an immense fascination with the criminal element. I'm not going to bother to offer my two cents as to why this is, since it's been done to death elsewhere; but like most film buffs I absolutely love a great crime movie and the crème de la crème of crime is the gangster picture. Ever since Warner Bros. brought it to the mainstream in the early days of talkies, organized crime has entertained and challenged audiences with both critical and commercial success.

Little Caesar, arguably the first important gangster film, no longer contains the punch it undoubtedly had when first released in 1930. It starts with Caesar Enrico Bandello (Edward G. Robinson) as a low-level hood. Preferring to be called Rico, he knocks over a gas station with violent ferocity. Gunshots are heard from within, being promptly followed by Rico's return to his car. After this robbery, it becomes clear that Rico is not content with his place in life.

Like the later classic, Angels With Dirty Faces, the story is really a study of two men with similar backgrounds who take different paths. Rico wants status and power, but isn't willing to work for it legitimately. His best friend, Joe (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.), has the same dream of becoming successful, but doesn't share Rico's violent tendencies. As Rico rises in the world of organized crime, Joe leaves the gang to become a dancer. However, with Rico's increased power, it becomes impossible for Joe to leave his old life behind as Rico, rival gang members, and the police start to swarm around him. Mervyn LeRoy's adaptation of the novel by W.R. Burnett is a quick-paced, action-driven gem that doesn't offer much in the way of character development, but is a priceless component in the gangster genre's development.

It's tough for me to watch this film without noticing its flaws. The camera is primarily locked off and the static images are only made more dull by the flat lighting. It may also be tough, at least for contemporary audiences, to be enthralled by the once-violent set pieces because there's no musical score to heighten the impact. As a matter of fact, the filmmaking here is a model for the flaws of early sound pictures. The cinematography is claustrophobic in order to accommodate the need to record sound and even worse is the acting. Every supporting actor, particularly Fairbanks and Thomas Jackson (who plays police Sergeant Flaherty), move like they're on stilts and appear to be more concerned with projecting their voice into the hidden microphone than actually acting.

So why is this an good and important film? There are two reasons. First is the script—while this is not an operatic tragedy like The Godfather films, it is melodrama in the best sense of the word. The fast-talking delivery of lines and the dramatic structure of an anti-hero rising to the top and falling, due to his own devices, are staples of gangster stories even to this day. This film set the standard for the genre and heavily influenced the genre for at least the next 20 years. The second reason is Edward G. Robinson's performance, one of the best from when the movies learned to talk. There's a dynamic range in Robinson's line readings that is rarely seen in films of that period. Additionally, his mannerisms are perfect for the role of Rico. The cigar chomping that is now associated with pretty much any gangster originated here and, as far as I'm concerned, has never been equaled. Just look at how Robinson holds the cigar in his hand when he usurps his boss' power. This is a tour-de-force performance that, on its own, makes this an essential piece of American cinema.

I can't honestly claim that this is a great film. When looking at the long list of gangster pictures, this one is surpassed by practically every James Cagney film, both versions of Scarface, and the much more realistic and dramatic installments by Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. Nonetheless, Little Caesar is an invaluable commodity in the history of the genre and something that all film buffs should see.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Considering the age of this film, it's tough to judge this transfer. There's a lot of dirt, scratches, and print defects on just about every frame. Is this the fault of a bad transfer? My gut tells me that it is not, since Warner has such a marvelous track record of preserving classic films on DVD. Besides, the damage to the print gives the viewing of the film a context that a more glossed up transfer would not. The image is never distractingly bad and the black-and-white contrast is decent. This doesn't hold up to the stunning work Warner has done elsewhere, but it still treats its subject with respect.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: The mono English track is a blessing for purists like myself, since it helps to re-create the original theatrical experience. There's a lot of crackling and a loud hiss throughout, though again it's tough to say that this could have been avoided. Dialogue is always audible, as are the sound effects, and that's about all you need for a film like this.

Audio Transfer Grade: C

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu
Scene Access with 22 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, French, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
1 Other Trailer(s) featuring Five Star Final
1 Documentaries
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Richard Jewell
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: RSDL
Layers Switch: 00h:36m:49s

Extra Extras:
  1. Warner Night at the Movies 1930—a collection of two shorts, trailers, newsreel, and the feature film to replicate the vintage movie-going experience. Features an introduction by Leonard Maltin.
  2. Re-release Foreword—the 1954 re-release preface to the movie.
Extras Review: A nice treat from Warner on this release is the Warner Night at the Movies 1930 viewing option of the film. It is an effort to re-create the old days of cinematic viewing, when for a nickel you got a feature and a host of shorts. Prior to this feature starting there is a video introduction by Leonard Maltin (04m:05s) that runs down the list of what is to follow. Once you activate the feature, things get started with the theatrical trailer for Five Star Final, starring Edward G. Robinson in one of his rare non-gangster roles. Next is a newsreel (01m:43s) with real-life gangster "Legs" Diamond's girlfriend. It's stunning to listen to the reporter's monotone questioning and the obviously rehearsed responses by the girl and her mother.

After the interview, things really get going with the short film, The Hard Guy (06m:25s), starring a young Spencer Tracy as a out-of-work dad who needs to provide for his family. Will he turn to crime like Rico, or will he work hard like Joe? Then there's an old Merrie Melodies short, Lady Play Your Mandolin (07m:14s), a musical cartoon that really tested my patience due to its obnoxious songs. Each of these features can also be accessed individually from the special features menu.

An audio commentary by Richard Jewell is featured here. (If that name sounds familiar to you, it's because the 1996 Olympic bombing was incorrectly attributed to another man of the same name.) This film professor at USC gives some interesting insights into analyses of the film. At times, he more or less merely narrates the events on screen, but he has such a pleasant attitude and gives a good amount of information that this is a nice listen. There's also a documentary, Little Caesar: End of Rico, Beginning of the Antihero (17m:05s), with interviews from a plethora of film historians and Martin Scorsese. There's a lot of discussion about the film's comments on American society and audience reactions at the time, which is a nice compliment to Jewell's commentary.

Other extras include the film's original theatrical trailer and the 1954 re-release foreword, which was included to make certain audiences didn't see Rico as the hero.

The overall package of extras is an impressive addition to the DVD.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Little Caesar is still an important film thanks to Edward G. Robinson's performance and its pioneering role in the gangster genre. The image and sound transfers are not especially noteworthy, though how much of this can be blamed on the technicians is unknown to me. The extras are a fine collection of material, making this a deserving inclusion in the Warner Bros. Pictures Gangsters collection.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

television, the voice, alisan porterm, christina aguilera, ceelo green, ariana grande, sia, the little big town, 2016 billboard music awards, pink, just like fire, pamela neal, warrior princess, music, send my love (to your new lover), billboard music awards, adele, patrick daughters, hbo, bryan cranston, lbj, all the way, melissa leo, frank langella, todd weeks, movie, hard sell, kristin chenoweth, wicked, survivor: kaoh-rong, reality, michelle fitzgerald, aubry, tai, jeff probst, comedy remake, ghostbusters, melissa mccarthy, kristen wiig, kate mckinnon, leslie jones, beach boys, pet sounds, brian wilson, bob dylan, blonde on blonde, cannes film festival, selena gomez, beyonce, crazy in love, lemonade, sorry, donÕt hurt yourself, daddy lessons, dancing with the stars, nyle dimarco, bruno tonioli, carrie ann inaba, len goodman, live! with kelly and michael, kelly ripa michael strahan, beyoncˇ, jay z, rachel roy, cheating, prince, little red corvette, purple rain, linus and lucy, the bourne supremacy, the bourne ultimatum, matt damon, alicia vikander, vincent cassel, tommy lee jones, julia stiles, paul greengrass, game of thrones, sansa, ramsay bolton, theron greyjoy, reek, petyr baelish, cersei, jaime, stephen colbert, hillary clinton, carnegie deli, the late show with stepen colbert, jungle book, disney, neel sethi, bill murray, rudyard kipling, captain america: civil war, captain america, iron man, black panther, scarlet witch, the jungle book, virtual productions, avatar, gravity, jon favreau, fantasy, james cameron, avatar sequels, avatar 2, christmas 2018, movies, tribeca film festival, the first monday in may, andrew rossi, justin bieber, anna wintour, met gala, 38 interactive and virtual-reality exhibits, the bomb, the meddler, j.j. abrams, chris rock, tom hanks, john oliver, elvis & nixon, mtv movie awards, dwayne johnson, kevin hart, warner bros. studios, will smith, suicide squad, jared leto, margot robbie, cara delevingne, kiss, freedom to rock, 35 date tour, july 7, caleb johnson, dead daisies, kiss online, merle haggard, died, okie from muskogee, sing me back, mama tried, the bakersfield sound, country music. willie nelson, waylon jennings, gram parsons, eric church, hungry eyes, jimmy fallon, the boss, brand new key, x gonna give it to ya, miles ahead, don cheadle, miles davis, rock and roll hall of fame, ewan mcgregor, michael stuhbarg, lakeith lee stanfield, house of lies, finding dory, ellen degeneres, finding nemo, albert brooks, hayden rolence, animation, celebrity, robert de niro, vaxxed, dr. william schaffner, vanderbilt university medical school, autism

On Facebook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store