Little Caesar (Warner Brothers - First National, 1931). One Sheet (27" X 41") Style B.. ...
In the 1930s, each studio had their specialty. Universal was known for their Gothic horror films, Paramount for their elegant and artistic European-styled pictures, while MGM was particularly noted for their lavish musicals. Warner Brothers found their niche with the "social problem" film, pictures about crime and criminals ripped from the headlines of the day. Largely lacking the sophistication of Paramount and the respectability of MGM, Warners' focused on films about the working class, and the problems of a nation held in the grip of a crippling depression. Quite naturally, then, Warner Brothers turned to the larger-than-life crime figures who had made a name for themselves during the Prohibition Era - figures like John Dillinger, Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson, and Pretty Boy Floyd - and used their stories as jumping off points for a cycle of films that celebrated the outlaw as a new type of tragic hero. It was a formula for instant success. Based on the novel of the same name by W.R. Burnett, Little Caesar, the first of Warner Brothers' gangster pictures, is the story of Caesar Enrico Bandello (Edward G. Robinson) who experiences a meteoric rise from two-bit hood to mob boss, followed by an epic fall as he is gunned down in the gutter by the forces of law and order. Originally, Robinson was wanted for the role of Otero, Bandello's right hand man, as the studio favored Clark Gable for the lead role. After a disappointing screen test by Gable, however, director Mervyn LeRoy gave the plum role to Robinson, a role based on the life and crimes of gangster Al Capone (according to some sources, rumors at the time that Capone had a spy on the set to keep track of the proceedings were absolutely true). Unlike James Cagney - whose star-making role in The Public Enemy, released later in 1931, helped solidify Warners' dominance in the "social problem" arena - Robinson was not a tough guy in real life. An avowed pacifist, he was uncomfortable handling firearms, and had to have his eyelids taped open in certain scenes as he had a tendency to blink when his gun fired. As well, in his final scene, in which Rico is gunned down by the police, steel plates were secured under Robinson's clothing around his midsection, plates at which expert marksman George Daly would fire with live machine gun rounds. Nervous and twitchy about the scene, Robinson moved more than he should have, and only survived due to Daly's expert marksmanship. Until now, collectors of vintage gangster material had to be satisfied with the occasional lobby or one of less than a handful of window cards for this film. Larger paper was always elusive to the point of being non-existent. As part of The Berwick Discovery of Lost Movie Posters, however, this lack has been at least partially addressed, as the beautiful Style B one sheet offered here, featuring stars Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Glenda Farrell (Joe Massara and Olga Stassof in the film), one of only two copies known to exist in the entire world, is offered for the first time to the collecting public. With its rich and vibrant image, the poster had one inch trimmed from the top of the large upper white border. Additionally, there were a couple of small holes in Farrell's cheek and in Fairbanks' shirt front, and there was touchup to several dark surface scuffs within the image. We also note a tear extending from the center horizontal fold into the "L" of "Little," and several small holes in the lower white border, as well as one extending into the credits. Finally, there were small pinholes within the artwork in three corners. All of these minor flaws have been carefully addressed by expert professional restoration, resulting in a poster that is a joy to behold. Extremely beautiful, exceedingly rare, and highly desirable... what more could you want from a vintage movie poster? From the Berwick Discovery. Fine+ on Linen.
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