Little Caesar, a 1931 Hollywood gangster classic, is viewed in revivals today with nearly as much audience enthusiasm as it enjoyed a half-century ago, in the depths of the Great Depression.
In general, the Hollywood film industry responded to the dark economic conditions of the 1930s with escapist and non-topical films. The fascinating exception was the gangster film, through which the studios joined in the debate over the spiritual and economic health of the nation. Little Caesar, considered by many to be an architype of the genre, is one of the most memorable dramatizations of the discontent and alienation, the deep anxiety and hostility shared by millions of Americans during those dark years.
About the Author
Gerald Peary is film critic for the Real Paper in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Formerly Assistant Professor of English and Film at Rutgers University, he is the author of several books on cinema.
Tino Balio, Professor in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is the author of United Artists: The Company Built by the Stars, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, and the editor of The American Film Industry as well as the 22 volume Wisconsin/Warner Bros. Screenplay series, all published by the University of Wisconsin Press. He directed the Wisconsin Center for Film and Theatre Research from 1966 to 1882.