Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Little Caesar (1930)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Little Caesar (1930)

In director Mervyn LeRoy's crime/gangster film - one of the first "talkie" gangster movies:

  • the opening scene introducing the small-town petty thug title character: wide-mouthed, squat-faced Enrico "Rico" Bandello (Edward G. Robinson) with his boyhood friend Joe Massara (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) in a seamy, run-down diner; after ordering spaghetti, Rico read a newspaper account about major underworld kingpin mobster "Diamond" Pete Montana (Ralph Ince), and covetously said: "He doesn't have to waste his time on cheap gas stations. He's somebody. He's in the big town, doing things in a big way. And look at us, just a couple of nobodies, nothin'....I could do all the things that fella does, and more, only I never got my chance. Why, what's there to be afraid of? And when I get in a tight spot, I shoot my way out of it. Why sure. Shoot first and argue afterwards. You know, this game ain't for guys that's soft!"
  • the contrast between friend gigolo Joe's breakaway life with girlfriend and dance partner Olga Stassoff (Glenda Farrell), while Rico kept pulling him back into a life of crime; Olga begged Joe to break free of the gang: "You're through with that bunch - oh, you don't belong, Joe. You're not that kind," but Joe felt loyalty to his gang
  • the scene of vain Caesar Enrico or Rico "Little Caesar" Bandello at a testimonial dinner banquet at Chicago's Palermo Club, after joining the gang of gangster chief Sam Vettori (Stanley Fields); he vainly agreed to have his picture taken by newspaper photographers (he reflexively combed his hair), ignoring the fact that it would create negative publicity - "What do I care when I want folks to see what the boys think of me."
  • the sequence of Rico's threat to rival gangster Little Arnie Lorch (Maurice Black) as he rose to the top: ("If you ain't out of town by tomorrow morning, you won't ever leave it except in a pine box. I'm takin' over this territory")
  • the scene after Rico had killed the new crime commissioner and had taken over as boss of the gang - and his threat about cowardly members: ("There's a rope around my neck right now and they only hang ya once. If anybody turns yella and squeals, my gun's gonna speak its piece")
  • the memorable ending as Rico was surrounded, and he hid behind a billboard with a gigantic poster (advertising Joe Massara and Olga Strassoff starring in a new dance show at the Grand Theatre: Tipsy, Topsy, Turvy - A Laughing Singing Dancing Success) when he saw a police car approaching; police Sgt. "The Bull" Flaherty (Thomas Jackson) yelled out: "You'd better give up, Rico. You haven't got a chance," although Rico resisted: "You want me, you'll have to come and get me"; Rico was given one final ultimatum: "This is your last chance, Rico. Are you comin' out, or do ya want to be carried out?"
  • the roadside billboard was raked with machine-gun fire, peppering the lower part of the poster across Rico's figure with bullets; slowly, Rico fell and collapsed to the ground, his derby hat rolling off his head in front of him where he pathetically lay sprawled on the ground; the police stood above his body, as Flaherty asserted: "Well, Rico. It looks like you and I are going to take that little ride together"; Rico looked up defiantly and disbelieving that he was about to die following the shoot-out: ("No, no we ain't. I told you little buzzards like you will never put any handcuffs on me"); Flaherty responded: "You should have come out when I told you to, Rico."
Rico's Ignominious Death
  • Rico painfully grabbed his sides and with a last gasp, moaned out his final words in a memorable death scene as he was lying sprawled on the ground; his final cry - his final epitaph - was: ("Mother of Mercy! Is this the end of Rico?"); the final shot dissolved into view. it contrasted the gritty scene of Rico's end behind the billboard with the front of the billboard, which extravagantly announced the escapist musical/dance show: "Tipsy Topsy Turvy"

Opening Diner Scene

Rico: Snarling, Hot-Headed, and "Quick on the Trigger"

Joe (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) with Olga (Glenda Farrell)

Vain "Little Caesar" Having Picture Taken

Rico to Rival Little Arnie Lorch: "I'm takin' over this territory"


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