Little Caesar

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Overview

Warner Home Video's DVD release of Little Caesar is a real treat, though not necessarily because of its most ambitious bonus feature. The greatest selling point here is the transfer, which seems to have come from a source very close to the camera negative -- certainly the full-screen image (1.33:1) is closer to the original negative than any previous edition of the movie seen on home video or television (the television edition of the film in the 1960s and 1970s seemed to be missing any real detail in the final ...
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Overview

Warner Home Video's DVD release of Little Caesar is a real treat, though not necessarily because of its most ambitious bonus feature. The greatest selling point here is the transfer, which seems to have come from a source very close to the camera negative -- certainly the full-screen image (1.33:1) is closer to the original negative than any previous edition of the movie seen on home video or television (the television edition of the film in the 1960s and 1970s seemed to be missing any real detail in the final scene). On this DVD, that's not a problem, and there is more visual detail throughout this presentation of the movie than one has seen in Little Caesar in many decades. There are some scratches and other signs of wear in the 75-year-old movie, but the picture is still very crisp, with Glenda Farrell's evening gown in her first scene and the accompanying shots of the art deco restaurant taking us into levels of elegance that lesser prints merely hint at. Now one can appreciate what Warner Bros. spent its money on. The movie is accompanied by a relevant (and unintentionally funny) newsreel clip from the same era with a gangster connection, and also a cartoon (Lady Play Your Mandolin) by Hugh Harman and Rudolf Ising that is uncomfortably close to the style of early Disney, plus the early Spencer Tracy short The Hard Guy, which is surprisingly topical and a fairly sophisticated sociological document of its time. The major supplemental feature is the commentary track by Richard Jewell, which has some virtues but mostly just drones on. Jewell isn't telling us too much that we can't see for ourselves, and the there are too many places where he equivocates in his language; something "may have" represented this or "probably" had that effect on audiences of the period. Between his near-monotone delivery and less-than-emphatic phrasings, the commentary comes off as a not quite first-rate film lecture. The real gem among the bonus features is "Little Caesar: End of Rico, Beginning of the Antihero," an appended documentary featuring comments and observations, supported by film clips, from Gerald Peary, Martin Scorsese, Robert Sklar, Drew Casper, Alain Silver, and others, who provide a lively range of historical observations about the making of the movie and the reasons for its being the kind of film it is. It adds vastly to the value of the disc and makes it a real bargain, especially given the quality of the film-to-video transfer. The 78-minute movie has been given a very generous 22 chapters, and is accompanied by the original release trailer and the forward to a re-release of both it and The Public Enemy on the same bill. There are English, French, and Spanish subtitles accessible as well, all through a very easy-to-use menu that opens automatically on start-up.
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Special Features

Closed Caption; Leonard Maltin hosts Warner Night at the Movies 1930 with newsreel, Spencer Tracy short "The Hard Guy," cartoon "Lady Play Your Mandolin," and theatrical trailers; New featurette "Little Caesar: End of Rico, Beginning of the Antihero"; Commentary by film historian Richard B. Jewell; 1954 re-release forward; Subtitles: English, Français, & Español
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
The rise of Al Capone to the head of America's criminal class inspired this Edward G. Robinson vehicle. Appearing just as talking pictures were finding their feet, Robinson's gravelly snarl and sociopathic disdain for human conventions became the template for countless future gangster anti-heroes. In fact, virtually every aspect of Little Caesar, from the seedy settings and rough-hewn slang to the pinstriped suits and ever-present Tommy Gun, became part of the language of the genre. Little Caesar sprints by in a brisk 77 minutes, powering through the rapid rise and inevitable descent of its flawed and ambitious protagonist as if a getaway car were waiting outside. The film insightfully plays on the Horatio Alger ideal of the all-American self-made man to examine this impulse's darker, anti-social implications, while offering a tragic arc of Greek proportions. The story's violence is discernibly in your face, and the performances are about as subtle as the gangster's suits. Ironically, the film, which purportedly aimed to expose the dark underbelly of the gangster life, was so riveting that it wound up glamorizing its targets, a fact not lost on movie censors of the time. Little Caesar was followed quickly by Public Enemy (1931) and Scarface (1932); the three films ushered in a legion of imitators to follow, but they were also, at least for a time, the last "true" gangster movies, as their ambiguous representation of glamorous criminals brought down the much stricter 1934 content restrictions of Joe Breen's Production Code Administration.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/25/2005
  • UPC: 012569672154
  • Original Release: 1930
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Home Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Full Frame
  • Presentation: Full Frame / Subtitled / Dubbed
  • Language: English, Français
  • Time: 1:18:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Edward G. Robinson Rico Bandello
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Joe Massara
Glenda Farrell Olga Strassoff
Sidney Blackmer Sr. Big Boy
Thomas E. Jackson Sgt. Flaherty
Ralph Ince Diamond Pete Montana
Maurice Black Amie Lorch
Stanley Fields Sam Vettori
George E. Stone Otero
Kernan Cripps Detective
George Daly Machine Gunner
William Collier Tony Passa
Armand Kaliz DeVoss
Nicholas Bela Ritz Colonna
Lucille La Verne Ma
Landers Stevens Commissioner McClure [uncredited]
Ferike Boros
Ben Hendricks Jr. Kid Bean
Noel Madison Peppi
Louis Natheaux Hood
Larry Steers Cafe Patron
Ernie S. Adams Cashier
Technical Credits
Mervyn LeRoy Director
Ray F. Curtiss Editor
Francis Edwards Faragoh Screenwriter
Leo F. Forbstein Musical Direction/Supervision
Tony Gaudio Cinematographer
Anton Grot Art Director
Robert N. Lee Screenwriter
Robert Lord Screenwriter
Earl Luick Costumes/Costume Designer
Erno Rapee Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Hal B. Wallis Producer
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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Credits [:48]
2. Be Somebody [3:21]
3. Little Caesar [2:04]
4. Maybe This Time [3:20]
5. Diamond Pete's Warning [4:39]
6. Calling the Shots [4:57]
7. Bronze Peacock Job [4:03]
8. You Can't Go Back [3:02]
9. Tough Breaks [4:20]
10. Mama's Boy [3:02]
11. The Last of Tony [3:08]
12. Man of the Hour [3:56]
13. Stolen Item [2:04]
14. Shot on the Street [4:26]
15. Taking Over [4:06]
16. Getting Up in the World [5:10]
17. Nobody Quits Me [5:50]
18. Face to Face With Joe [4:54]
19. Closing In [2:27]
20. Return to the Gutter [4:20]
21. Calling the Cops [2:00]
22. The End of Rico [2:16]
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Menu

Side #1 --
   Re-release Forward
   Warner Night at the Movies
      Introduction by Leonard Maltin
      Play All
      Five Star Final Theatrical Trailer
      Newsreel
      The Hard Guy
      Lady Play Your Mandolin
      Little Caesar
   Play Movie
   Scene Selections
   Special Features
      Commentary by Richard Jewell
      Warner Night at the Movies
         Introduction by Leonard Maltin
         Play All
         Five Star Final Theatrical Trailer
         Newsreel
         The Hard Guy
         Lady Play Your Mandolin
         Little Caesar
      Little Caesar: End of Rico, Beginning of the Antihero
      Re-release Forward
      Theatrical Trailer
   Languages
      Spoken Languages: English
      Subtitles: English
      Subtitles: Français
      Subtitles: Español
      Subtitles: Off
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Customer Reviews

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