Little Caesar: Gangster Life in New York City

analytical Essay
2304 words
2304 words

Film has evolved into one of the most popular forms of entertainment mediums in America today. Beginning from a “moving picture” that lasted no more than a few seconds, the industry has sprouted into a goldmine of technologically advanced major motion pictures. While Hollywood was still in an adolescent stage, a certain genre caught the eye of a United States eager for trendy entertainment: the “gangster” film. No film better defined the genre than Mervyn LeRoy’s Little Caesar. The movie was released in 1930 and largely due to the industries technological advancements the silent film had started a slide down the slippery slope to extinction as “talkies” were becoming all the rage. Although gangster films existed previous to the talkie era, there was something about the audible rat-tat-tat of machine guns and the stylized argot of tough guy talk that made an electrifying concoction. In addition, the gangster’s disregard for established society seemed fitting for a population who was beginning to lose its trust in institutions such as banks after being severely shaken by the depression (Giannetti 143). The circumstances were ideal for the rise of the gangster film. Little Caesar masterfully sculpted the defining parameters of the genre. Guns and cars are the tools. Women are nothing more than an outlet for either passion or rage. Lastly and most importantly, the plot details the rise and fall of Catholic immigrants recklessly ignoring or annihilating any obstacles that stand between them and fortune. The film introduces the famous cliches notorious to gangster life such as the poor Italian mother who wants her gangster son to go straight; the basically decent gangster is who turned off by the killings and the violence and who mee... ... middle of paper ... ...netti, Louis, and Scott Eyman. “The Talkie Era.” Flashback: A Brief History of Film. Ed. Leah Jewell. 4th ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2001. 140-145. Print. Jacobs, Lewis. “Refinements in Technique.” The Rise of the American Film. New York: Teachers College Press, 1974. 433-452. Print. Jones, Preston Neal. “Robinson, Edward G. (1893-1973).” St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 4. St. James Press, 2000. 229-230. Gale Biography in Context. Web. 16 Apr. 2011. Kuhns, William. “The Movie Columnists.” Movies in America. London: The Tantivy Press, 1975. 142-73. Print. “Little Caesar.” Magill’s Survey of Cinema (June 1995): n. pag. eLibrary Curriculum Edition. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. Sklar, Robert. “The Golden Age or Turbulence And The Golden Age of Order.” Movie-Made America. New York: Random House, 1975. 175-194. Print.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains the rise of the gangster film in the united states.
  • Analyzes how leroy used innovative technology, style, and the social scene of organized crime to delineate the "gangster" genre of film.
  • Explains that the goal of directors in the art of film is to deliver entertainment and information that an audience finds emotionally compelling. mervyn leroy pioneered the film industry into its historical "golden age."
  • Argues that the most polished technical aspect of little caesar was the introduction of synchronized recorded sound. the gangster genre was defined by films that were nothing more than visual depiction of the criminal underworld.
  • Describes how a "blimped camera" was introduced on the set of little caesar to eliminate unwanted low frequency noise. the blimp was supported by an elastic suspension and created soundless air around it.
  • Analyzes how mervyn leroy employed edward g. robinson as the leading role of rico "little caesar" bandello.
  • Analyzes how the gangster genre exhibits a similar structure seen in an ancient tragic. rico's greed is fueled by his dependence on his gun.
  • Analyzes how mervyn leroy uses a colloquial dialogue and jazz soundtrack to set the gangster film apart from other genres in the 1930's.
  • Analyzes how mervyn leroy's attempt to delineate the gangster genre needed to expose the social scene of organized crime.
  • Analyzes how clothes, cars, and other material possessions reflect a gangster's place in an underground society.
  • Analyzes how the gangster's tommy gun is the ultimate source of his power, and an instrument for self-expression through controlling various events and people through the rise to the top.
  • Analyzes how leroy's little caesar shows that the gangster is a man of the city.
  • Analyzes how meryvn leroy's use of technological advancements, style, and social scene of organized crime gave birth to a golden age of depression-era movies defined by fear and pleasure.
  • Cites cottrell, robert c., "mafia/ organized crime." st. james encyclopedia of popular culture.
  • Cites frontani, michael, and gabree, john. gangsters from little caesar to the godfater.
  • Cites jacobs, lewis, and jones, preston neal. robertson, edward g. (1893-1973), st. james encyclopedia of popular culture.
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