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The Little Giant
WarnerBrothers Gangster Pictures Collection Volume 4
Edward G. Robinson, Mary Astor, Russell Hopton
Directed by Roy Del Ruth
Black and white
Warner Brothers 1933
Warner Home Video 2008
The stereotypical Edward G. Robinson imitation is based on his Bugs Ahearn character in The Little Giant, a pre Hays Code Warner Brothers movie. The Little Giant is one of five films in the Warner Brothers Gangsters Collection Volume 4. It features the Night at the Movies extras such as a newsreel, a cartoon, and a short feature: all this to recreate the original movie house experience.
In The Little Giant mobster Bugs Ahearn (Robinson) decides the repeal of prohibition is a sign for him to move on to better and bigger things. He and his best crony Al (Russell Hopton) move to California where Bugs wishes to integrate haute society.
This gangster movie DVD is a fish out of water story. Though the print for The Little Giant is quite pristine, the comedy here has not aged that well. It is still there but the rube trying to fit in with the rich folks jokes that were funny a few years into the Great Depression have pretty much lost their zing. What is funny is Ahearn using all his faux knowledge to impress his pals and then the rich.
One bit of humor that has not aged is how immediately the rich California folks warm up to the Edward G. Robinson once they learn he’s got lots of money. That Bugs Ahearn will spare nothing to make an impression, or that he rents a 20 room, 14 bath house to fit it are more subtle bits of humor that work. Funnier is how Bugs tries to impress the woman who found him a house to rent (Mary Astor), “unawares” she is the actual owner of the property.
Ahearn eventually finds out the rich folks are as scheming as the gang he left behind.
The ending to this sort of gangster comedy is rushed. The Little Giant is still rather entertaining though serious fans of thirties and forties gangster movies will appreciate it more.
One of the extra features on this DVD is a commentary track by a couple of film experts. It’s the usual useful if you got insomnia stuff.