Though it looks somewhat dated now, there's no denying the seminal importance of this classic adaptation of WR Burnett's novel. Robinson - vain, cruel, jealous and vicious - is superb as the ruthlessly ambitious mobster Rico Bandello, determined to gain sole control of the city's criminal empire, anxious that his dancing-gigolo sidekick Massara (Fairbanks) should not leave him for a woman, and ending in bland astonishment that death should have overtaken him ('Mother of God, is this the end of Rico?'), despite the cautionary opening title assuring one and all that those who live by the sword, etc. Like many early talkies, the film often in fact errs on the slow side, at least in terms of dialogue; but the parallels with Capone, Tony Gaudio's photography, and LeRoy's totally unrepentant tone ensure that it remains fascinating.
Cast and crew
Francis Edwards Faragoh
Ralph Ince Glenda Farrell Edward G Robinson Stanley Fields Douglas Fairbanks Jr William Collier Jr Sidney Blackmer