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Scarface (1932)

Passed | | Action, Crime, Drama | 9 April 1932 (USA)
An ambitious and near insanely violent gangster climbs the ladder of success in the mob, but his weaknesses prove to be his downfall.

Writers:

(novel), (screen story) | 6 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Osgood Perkins ...
...
Inspector Guarino
...
Rinaldo
Vince Barnett ...
Angelo
...
Purnell Pratt ...
Publisher
...
Managing Editor
Inez Palange ...
Tony's Mother
...
Detective Chief
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Storyline

Johnny Lovo rises to the head of the bootlegging crime syndicate on the south side of Chicago following the murder of former head, Big Louis Costillo. Johnny contracted Big Louis' bodyguard, Tony Camonte, to make the hit on his boss. Tony becomes Johnny's second in command. Johnny is not averse to killing anyone who gets in his and Johnny's way. As Tony is thinking bigger than Johnny and is not afraid of anyone or anything, Tony increasingly makes decisions on his own instead of following Johnny's orders, especially in not treading on the north side run by an Irish gang led by a man named O'Hara, of whom Johnny is afraid. Tony's murder spree increases, he taking out anyone who stands in his and Johnny's way of absolute control on the south side, and in Tony's view absolute control of the entire city. Tony's actions place an unspoken strain between Tony and Johnny to the point of the two knowing that they can't exist in their idealized world with the other. Tony's ultimate downfall may... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

police | mob | murder | gangster | beer | See All (138) »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

9 April 1932 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Scarface, the Shame of the Nation  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is one of the first films to feature the Thompson submachine gun, known to history as the "tommy gun." The characters never call it anything other than "machine gun," except when Poppy calls it a "bean shooter" and Tommy refers to the gun as a "typewriter" when he first sees one. Another name for a "tommy gun" was "Chicago typewriter." See more »

Goofs

Closeup of score sheet in bowling alley scene defies all rules of traditional scoring. See more »

Quotes

[Angelo is answering the phone for Tony]
Tony Camonte: Hey, hey. Get a name. Get a name.
Angelo: [speaking into telephone] What's your name? No, no, I no wanna know what's your brother's name, I wanna know what's your name.
[angrily]
Angelo: Oh, you do, huh? Listen, I come on over there, I smack you right in the teeth! I get you, you brother...
Tony Camonte: Hey! What's the matter? That's no way to talk. Talk nice. Tell him to state his business.
Angelo: Go state your business!
[hangs up phone]
See more »

Crazy Credits

"This picture is an indictment of gang rule in America and of the callous indifference of the government to this constantly increasing menace to our safety and our liberty. Every incident in this picture is the reproduction of an actual occurence, and the purpose of this picture is to demand of the government: "What are you going to do about it?". The government is your government. What are YOU going to do about it? See more »

Connections

Referenced in Paid in Full (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Sextet from 'Lucia di Lammermoor'
Music by Gaetano Donizetti
[Whistled by Paul Muni as Tony before he kills Costillo and Lovo]
See more »

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User Reviews

 
What a sensational film! What an actor Paul Muni!
22 March 2002 | by (Padova, Italy) – See all my reviews

One of the best directors ever makes one of the best films ever: Howard Hawks makes "Scarface". Everything is outstanding in this masterpiece of cinema, the exciting, neatly told story of the raise and fall of Tony Camonte (Al Capone's alter-ego). Powerful script, magnificent black and white photography, excellent camera-work, an important and courageous social message, just four years after the St. Valentine's massacre.

Great action and great psychological design of the characters are perfectly woven into the story. One brilliant, innovative idea follows another. An example is the not-shown-scene of the St. Valentine's massacre. Another beautiful intuition: a key-point of the story is the arrival on the scene of the machine guns, destined to bring the gang-wars to an unheard-of level of violence. Look at Tony's scaring bliss when he handles the terrible weapon for the first time... The montage is extraordinary. Take the celebrated bowling-hall scene: we have a dozen of distinct, splendid shots, perfectly tied together. "Scarface" has a pace impressive for intensity. Not a single second is wasted in its narration.

The cinematic language attains its highest level. Look how Guino Rinaldo (the great George Raft) is introduced. A man is reading a newspaper in a barber shop. The approaching siren of a police-car is heard. Without even leaving his chair, the man throws his gun in the basket of towels, and, impassive, he restarts to read. In few seconds we have got a precise hint of the personality of Guino: smart, cool-headed, laconic, professional. Soon we will see that in fact he is the cornerstone of Tony's power and success in crime.

Another gem of cinematic language. Tony and his boss Lovo in the chamber of Poppy, Lovo's girl-friend. Poppy is doing her make-up. Tony tries to chat with her. Poppy doesn't pay attention. She is even rude with him. Her dressing-gown has slipped, showing Poppy's legs. Tony peeps at them. Poppy clearly notes it and she DOES NOT fix the dressing-gown...

George Raft, Ann Dvorak, Karen Morley (Poppy), Osgood Perkins (the spine-less boss Lovo) make a fantastic job. And then there is Paul Muni as Tony Camonte... how good an actor he is could only be eye-witnessed, words can't describe the power of his performance. Tony is cruel, loathsome, brutal, hideous: we all hate him. Tony's clash with Lovo, with the sadistic suspense he deliberately creates, is a really ghastly scene. Nonetheless, Muni succeeds to be even touching, when Tony shows his childish enthusiasm for bad-taste "expensive" stuff, ties, silk shirts, luxury restaurants etc. Tony's final nervous breakdown is essential for the moral message of "Scarface", but it could have been a weakness of the film. Yet Muni is so great, so intense, that he can render Tony's disgusting sudden cowardice in a smooth, realistic way, and without provoking in the audience any sympathy for the gangster (an important aim for the film-makers).

A crucial theme of the movie is Tony's morbid affection (to say the least) toward his sister Cesca (Ann Dvorak). Well... "Scarface" would deserve a book, not just a comment. Let me skip this important motive of "brotherly love", which is extremely difficult to judge correctly, in my opinion.

How can a comic character like the illiterate "gangster-secretary", who never gets the name at the telephone, fit so well in the tragic, action-packed story of "Scarface"? The answer is: Hawks' artistic genius.

"Scarface", Muni, Hawks... That is great Art of Cinema.


47 of 60 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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