Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Scarface (1932)

IMDB: 7.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 100%(critics), 82%(audience)

Stars: Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, Karen Morley
Written By: Armitage Trail(novel), Ben Hecht(screenplay)
Directed By: Howard Hawks, Richard Rosson

Produced By: Howard Hughes

Release Date: 9 April 1932
Described by IMDB as: "
An ambitious and near insanely violent gangster climbs the ladder of success in the mob, but his weaknesses prove to be his downfall."

Scarface marks the beginning of the gangster film genre, which has managed to create some of the greatest films of all time, such as; The Godfather, Casino, Goodfellas, etc. The film follows Tony(Paul Muni), a recent Italian immigrant, who lives with his mother and sister Cesca(Ann Dvorak), and who is starting his new gangster lifestyle. Head of the Italian mafia, Johnny Lovo(Osgood Perkins), hires Tony to kill Big Louis Costillo, the head crime boss of South side Chicago. Johnny then becomes the head boss and Tony quickly climbs the ladder in the mafia as Johnny's key lieutenant and is put in charge of selling illegal alcohol to speakeasies. Johnny warns Tony not to threaten or attack the Irish gangs who run the North Side, but he ignores Johnny's orders and attacks some bars that belong to O'Hara, the leader of the Irish gangs. Tony starts to seduce Johnny's girlfriend Poppy(Karen Morley) and Johnny starts to realize that Tony is out of control and dreams of becoming the head boss of Chicago.

Tony declares war on the North Side and sends his friend Guino Rinaldo(George Raft) to kill the Irish leader at his base. The Irish gang retaliates with machine guns, but Tony soon becomes captivated by the weapon and easily destroys the North Side gangs and takes over their market. Johnny realizes that his gang has been stolen by Tony and comes up with a plan to have him killed, but when his plan fails Tony and Guino kill him making Tony the crime boss of all of Chicago. The gang war that Tony created manages to get the attention of the police and the public and it becomes clear that they are closing in on him. He finds out that his sister Cesca, who he is very close with and seems to be extremely overprotective of, marries his friend Guino behind his back. When he finds them together he becomes enraged, and kills Guino before they have a chance to tell him that the are in love and engaged. Cesca goes to the police and tells them what Tony has done, giving them the information they have been waiting for. She goes to Tony’s house to kill him but changes her mind and decides to help him fight the police. She is killed in the shootout and Tony is left alone begging for his life, but when a police officer points out his cowardace he decides to make a run for it, only to be shot down by the police. The last shot we see is a sign on a building above Tony’s dead body saying “The World Is Yours” which seems to mock Tony in his final moments of life.

Overall I enjoyed the movie, I’m a big fan of gangster films so I was intruiged, especially since I wasn’t even aware that it exsisted. Surprisingly I haven’t seen the 1983 version either, so the fact that I haven’t really looked into it before now might explain my lack of knowledge of this movie. I still have some problems following along with storylines in movies from the 30s, I think it’s a combination of the lower sound quality and the pacing in some of them. I found that this film went very quickly, and that I missed some specific details sometimes because of it. The story was interesting, and the acting was great. After doing some research when I had finished watching I read that the film was based on a book which took inspiration from Al Capone’s life. Obviously its not a true representation of his life, but apparently Capone enjoyed the film so much that he owned his own copy.

I thought that because of the time that this film was made it was actually quite brave of Director Howard Hawks, and Producer Howard Hughes to make this film at all. At that time the mafia and gangs had a lot of power in certain cities, and the film not only showed the glamour of the crime industry, but also the dark, downside, with the ending being the worst possibly outcome for a crime boss.

I enjoyed the film, and I will definitely be checking out the 1983 remake in the next week or so to find out what I’ve been missing. I think anyone who enjoys gangster films would enjoy this movie, but I find a lot of people tend to shy away from black and white films, so I wouldn’t be surprised if some people didn’t take me up on my suggestion. I’d give it a 7.5/10, and I’m excited to see what the remake has to offer.

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