SCARFACE: THE SHAME OF THE NATION (BLACK AND WHITE, 1932)
Richard Rosson and Howard Hawks
Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, George Raft, Boris Karloff, Karen Morley and Osgood Perkins
10 and up
Tony Camonte (Muni) is a gangster who had just shot a famous Chicago gangster. As he rises above many with his insanely violent ways, he falls in love with Poppy (Morley). He and his mob (Raft, Karloff and Perkins are just the main ones) soon see that they will fall down, and the cops soon catch Tony even with his sister (Dvorak) by his side.
Why it’s good:
Because it is so filled with action, so filled with mystery, and just so tense. No film has ever been so violent and had so many censorship problems, and none shall ever be responsible for the dawn of gangster films than this film.
Yes, very little of today’s gangster films would be here today if not for Scarface. It was ‘a shame of the nation’, as mentioned in the tagline, but it is actually today ‘the birth of a nation’s film’.
No gangster film actually gets any better than this film nowadays, although James Cagney – actor of gangster – has a point to make.
Al Capone was rumored to have liked the film so much that he had his own copy of it. Film debut of George Raft, who didn't have to go far for inspiration on how to play a gangster in this film. He grew up in a New York City slum alongside gangsters Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Joe Adonis and Lucky Luciano. In an ironic twist, after the release of "Scarface", many of Raft's gangster pals would come to him for advice on how to dress, walk, talk, etc.
If you like this...:
Paul Muni’s other great film was I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, which was made the same year. It was about a criminal wrongly suspected of robbing a dinner, sent to a chain gang, and escaped. The Private Enemy (1931), Angels With Dirty Faces (1938) and White Heat (1949) are great Cagney gangster films.