There are enough killings herein to fill the quota for an old time cowboy-Indian thriller. And one tough mugg, in the title part, who is tough all the way from the start, when he’s a bum with ambition, to the finish, when he’s a bum again, but a dead one.
For a performance as ‘Little Caesar’ no director could ask for more than Edward G. Robinson’s contribution. Here, no matter what he has to say, he’s entirely convincing.
Young Douglas Fairbanks is splendid as the gunman’s friend. Another junior, William Collier Jr. contributes real trouping to a part that seemed out of his line. There are no off-key performances in the picture.
No new twists to the gunman stuff [from the novel by W.R. Burnett] same formula and all the standard tricks, but Mervyn LeRoy, directing, had a good yarn to start with and gives it plenty of pace besides astute handling.
1930/31: Nomination: Best Adaptated Screenplay