"Listen, you crummy, flat-footed copper..."
Description: Edward G. Robinson as gangster Caesar Enrico Bandello in the motion picture Little Caesar (1931).
Caesar Enrico "Rico" Bandello (a.k.a. "Little Caesar") is an Italian-American who moves from the country ("sticks") to Chicago with his friend, Joe Massara (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) to make it big in world of crime.
While Rico joins a gang run by Sam Vettori (Stanley Fields), Joe partners with Olga Strassoff (Glenda Farrell), a dancer at the Bronze Peacock nightclub. He participates in some criminal activities but his heart is just not in it anymore. He just wants to dance.
Eventually, Rico takes over Vettori's operation at the Palermo Club, and runs rival gangster "Little Arnie" Lorch (Maurice Black) out of town after he tried to have Rico killed. Rico takes over his operation, and tells Arnie "If you ain't out of town by tomorrow morning, you won't never leave it except in a pine box. I'm taking over this territory. From now on, it's mine." The next day, a newspaper article read:
"Mr. Arnold Lorch of the North Side has just left for Detroit where he intends to spend the summer. He was accompanied by two of his Detroit friends who have been in this city for a short time."
Soon after, underworld kingpin "Big Boy" (Sidney Blackmer) tells Rico that big shot mobster Pete Montana is through and that Rico is now the new Boss of Chicago's North Side.
With all of his success, Rico tries to bring his friend Joe back into the fold, but Joe wants to shed his past life of speakeasy's and illegal gambling joints. But Rico just won't let Joe have it his way.
"You didn't quit. Nobody ever quit me. You're still in my gang. You got that? I don't care how many fancy skirts you have hanging on to you. That jane's made a softy out of you...You go back to that dame, and it's suicide...suicide for both of ya."
Rico can't take the chance of letting Joe squeal to the cops. He knows too much about his activities, including being a witness to the murder of crusading police crime commissioner Alvin McClure whom Rico gunned down during a New Year's Eve nightclub robbery where Joe worked as a dancer.
In fear of her life, and that of her love, Joe, Olga calls police Lt. Flaherty (Thomas E. Jackson) and makes a deal to spill the beans on Rico and his criminal empire.
Just before the police arrive, Rico shows up with fellow thug Otero (George E. Stone) to kill Joe. But when Rico looks into the eyes of his old friend, he just can't pull the trigger. Otero tries to do the job, but a now protective Rico blocks the gunfire which wounds Joe. Lt. Flaherty hears the gunshot and rushes to protect Joe and Olga. Otero is shot as he runs away, but Rico escapes from the police who soon begin to bring down his criminal organization.
While Rico hides out in a flophouse, he becomes upset when he hear a man read a newspaper article calling him a coward. Angry, Rico calls the police station and threatens the life of police Lt. Flaherty for all of his badmouthing.
|Flophouse resident #1 reading newspaper:||Little Caesar has never been found, according to the statement of Lt. Thomas Flaherty of the homicide Squad. Little Caesar, the once swaggering, braggart of the underworld wilted in the face of real danger and showed the world his cowardice. Flaherty stated further that Little Caesar has contradicted his oft repeated boast that he could dish it out and take it, too. When a real crisis arose, Rico couldn't take it. Flaherty ended his interview by remarking, "meteoric as was Rico's rise from the gutter, it was inevitable that he should return there."|
|Flophouse resident #2||Well, just the same, he was a real leader of that gang.|
Flophouse resident #1:
|Don't you believe it. He didn't have the nerve and he didn't have the brains. He was yellow, just like Flaherty said.|
|[Upset, Rico dresses and then phones the police.]|
[Mumbling] I'll show them trying to put that kind of stuff about me in the papers, huh. [He dials the phone in the hallway of a flophouse at 4th and Commercial and shouts]. Hello, I want Park 1000. Yeah. [Mumbling] I can't take it anymore, huh I'll tell that guy.... [Shouting] Hello Park 1000. Get me Flaherty and get him quick.
|Rico:||Yeah, This is Rico speaking. Rico R-I-C-O! Rico. Little Caesar that's who. Yeah, you're a big guy shooting your mouth in the papers. So I ran out when it got hot, huh? You think I can't take it no more. Well listen, you crummy flat-footed copper, I'll show you whether I lost my nerve and my brains…Funny guy ain't ya Flaherty. Well you ain't got much longer to laugh. I'm comin' after ya, see and I'm gonna put one in your dirty hyde for every lying crack you made about me in the paper, see. I'm gonna show you whose gonna finish up in the gutter….I'll show ya… All right. all right bigmouth. only you better get you hat and start running cause your all through. Call up the papers and tell that you rotten dirty, lying copper.|
|Detective:||The conceit of that guy.|
|Flaherty:||Yeah, they’ll have to build a special noose to get that swelled head of his threw.|
The police trace the phone line and come a running to gun Rico down. Rico refuses to give up to the coppers adn takes refuge behind a billboard that ironically features the images of Joe and Olga. Defiant to the end, Rico shouts, ”You want me, you’re going to have to come and get me!"
In the end, Lt. Flaherty fires his tommy gun ("chopper") through the billboard and mortally wounds Little Caesar. As he dies, Rico speaks his last words: "Mother of Mercy! Is this the end of Rico?"