The year is 1930, the film is Little Caesar, and Hollywood begins its long and often irresponsible tradition of portraying the Italian-American male as gangster, thug, sociopath. The gangster genre has traditionally focused on male activities--men in groups, their rites of passage into underworld manhood, and their perverted American dreams of success achieved through community extortion, syndicated corruption, and blood murder. But hidden in the story of Caesar Enrico Bandello, who has justifiably been called our “archetypal” film gangster, we also discover fragmentary, but important, early portrayals of the Italian woman in America.

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