Five must binge Edward G. Robinson films on TCM including Little Caesar, Double Indemnity and Key Largo

Written by: Tami Goveia – May 4th, 2020 7:25pm pst

POPCORN TALK NETWORK: Classic Gems

Every one of us bears within him the possibility of all passions, all destinies of life in all its manifold forms. Nothing human is foreign to us.” ~ Edward G. Robinson

People’s life journeys fascinate me. When you realize that Edward G. Robinson was born in 1893 to a Romanian-Jewish family in Bucharest, Romania and went on to become one of Hollywood’s most revered actors you have to ask, what’s his story? 

With the increase of antisemitism and an attack on his brother by an antisemtic mob, his family left Bucharest and made the decision to emigrate to the United States. In 1904 they arrived in New York City.  “At Ellis Island I was born again”, he wrote. “Life for me began when I was 10 years old.”  This new life would lead him toward the path of becoming a criminal attorney until the allure of performing in the theatre while in college would forever change his life, and cinematic history. 

Though he would be known for his many gangster roles throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s, his range as an actor is undeniable. With over a 100 films to his credit, choosing these select few as binge worthy was a confounded task. Here is a flight of films to sample the smorgasbord of Edward G. Robinson delights.

Little Caesar 1930

“Some people have youth, some have beauty – I have menace.”

 ~ Edward G. Robinson

This pre-code Warner Brothers film took Robinson from an established theatre and film actor to stardom. His portrayal of the ruthless killer Caesar Enrico Bandello was all the more accentuated by the film’s novelty subject matter that gave 1930’s audiences a never before seen glimpse into the belly of the gangster underworld. See the rise of Rico Bandella as a small-time hoodlum to a powerful gangster (some say fashioned after Al Capone) and enjoy this exciting thriller.

Go to tcm.com for a film review and synopsis of Little Caesar  by movie critic Leonard Maltin.

Our Vines have Tender Grapes 1945

“I know I’m not much on face value, but when it comes to stage value, I’ll deliver for you.’ ~ Edward G. Robinson

This film was a much-loved departure for Robinson and the string of gangster films he had starred in over the years. Playing a kindly Norewegian farmer and father in a small town, this role showed his versatility as an actor, something which he constantly fought for when it came to working with the studios. 

Penned by Dalton Trumbo (A Guy Named Joe (1943) and the documentary style Thirty Seconds OverTokyo (1944)) and paired with the talented likes of child actress Margaret O’Brien and Agnes Moorehead, this film will leave you with all the warm feels it was designed to give.

Go to tcm.com for a film review and synopsis of Our Vines have Tender Grapes by movie critic Leonard Maltin.

Double Indemnity 1944

“They may think it’s twice as safe because there are two of them. But it isn’t twice as safe. It’s ten times twice as dangerous. They’ve committed a murder.” 

~ talking to Walter Neff

Edward G. Robinson as Barton Keyes

Directed by Billy Wilder and considered one of the all-time greatest film Noirs, 

Double Indemnity is led by Barbara Stanwyck as the femme fetale, Fred McMurray who is drawn into her web of deceit, and Edward G. Robinson, playing on the right side of the law this time, as an investigator who smells something dirty going on. 

Go to tcm.com for a film review and synopsis of Double Indemnity by movie critic Leonard Maltin.

Larceny, Inc. 1942

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“I didn’t play at collecting. No cigar anywhere was safe from me.”

Robinson relished the opportunity to take a stereotype and turn it inside out. Coming off the success of two previous comedies directed by Lloyd Bacon, Robinson was happy to take on this third that depicted the gangster world in an unusual comedic light. Toting his signature cigar, with heavy hitter character actors like Broderick Crawford and Anthony Quinn, you can add this to his list of well received comedies.

Go to tcm.com for a film review and synopsis of Larceny, Inc. by movie critic Leonard Maltin.

Key Largo 1948

“The journey down. No suspense to this. I didn’t even argue. Why not second billing? At fifty-three I was lucky to get any billing at all.” ~ Edward G. Robinson on getting second billing to Humphrey Bogart in Key Largo

Directed by John Huston with a cast that boasts Humphrey Bogart (the final of 5 films that Robinson and Bogart would work on together) Lauren Bacall, Claire Trevor (who would win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress) and the meteoric talent of Lionel Barrymore, this is one of those rainy day movies that will not disappoint. Playing another ruthless gangster, which at this point in his career he had grown to loathe, Robinson fortunately was tasked to play a multidimensional gangster on his way down from the heights of his power. This drama is a personal favorite because of its perfectly woven tension and suspense, and a must see for Edward G. Robinson and Humphrey Bogart and/or Bogie and Bacall fans. 

Go to tcm.com for a film review and synopsis of Key Largo by movie critic Leonard Maltin.

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About The Author:

Tami Goveia is a producer, writer and entertainment host for AfterbuzzTV. Classic film and television are her passion, napping is her indulgence and saving all rescues is her mission.

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