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, and 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 be...Written by
"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 »
Due to censorship requirements in several states, a second ending was shot after the film was finished, in which Camonte doesn't try an escape, but is sentenced to death and finally executed on the gallows. This alternate ending was shown only during the original 1932 theatrical run in certain states. All prints, home video, and television versions in current circulation use director Howard Hawks' ending, in which Camonte tries to escape and is shot down. The DVD includes the alternate ending as a bonus feature. See more »
Film chronicles the rise and fall of Tony Camonte (Paul Muni) an ugly, stupid and violent gangster.
This film was originally shot in 1930 but was held from release until 1932 because the censor demanded cuts. Watching it, I can only imagine how bad the missing material was. The film is full of shootouts and gun fights--they're quick, violent and just incredible. The body count has to be in the triple digits. The best scene has Boris Karloff as a gangster (!!!) shot to death in a bowling alley. As incredible as the violence is, the film condemns it--they make it clear that Scarface and his gang are cold-blooded killers and nothing more.
Also the film has PLENTY of sexual innuendo. Ann Dvorak plays Scarface's sister and it is made clear that she and her brother are VERY interested in each other. Also she does a very sexy dance in front of George Raft which is more than a little suggestive. I'm surprised that the censors let all this get by! The acting is superb. Muni plays Scarface as dumb, stupid, violent and ugly--and, in a way, very sexy. When he shoots down people it seems that he's actually getting a sexual charge from it! Also Muni, a very handsome man, was purposely made to look ugly. He looks more like an ape than human. George Raft as his best friend is also good--cold-blooded and heartless. Dvorak overplays it a bit but she is incredibly sexy. Hell, even Karloff is good as a gangster! The film is very well-directed by Hoaward Hawks--he pulls no punches. The script is quick and intelligent--it never stops moving.
After it was released (to great acclaim) in 1932 it was abruptly pulled--many people said glamorized gangsters (which is just ridiculous). It didn't surface until 1979 (Francis Ford Coppola helped get it re-released) and it was finally recognized for the classic it is.
Quite simply a GREAT film. Don't miss this one!
88 of 111 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this