Scarface Reviews

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August 28, 2015
I'll give this film five stories because one, this film is pretty well done by 1930's standards, and also, because this is a Howard Hawks classic that practically started to establish the whole gangster film genre, so kudos for that.
July 6, 2015
One of the greatest gangster pictures ever made, the 1932 Scarface is a brutal, violent masterpiece whose moral quandaries are nothing short of honest and its carnage nothing short of tragic.
½ November 24, 2012
A really good movie that would be great with a better star. I hate Paul Muni. He's all about accents and funny wigs ... a truly terrible actor. He sits at the center of this magnificent little gangster film and almost ruins it for me.
August 4, 2008
Scarface is a bold, pre-code gangster film which rarely pulls its punches. It is an interesting case because its critics accused it of glorifying the lifestyle, yet it begins with a not so subtle call to arms over gang warfare and that ideology is reinforced throughout the film. It is a compelling piece of work and in all likelihood its importance in prefiguring the modern crime film is somewhat understated.
January 1, 2012
This gangster film from 1932 is pretty badass. In my opinion Tony Camonte is a bigger badass than Tony Montana is. I've never been a huge fan of the 1983 remake, but the original is awesome... Tommy-Guns, Bootleggers, Gang Wars, Black and White Cinematography, and a more concise story...this movie is definitely the better picture. Its story, lead character, and some of the events are based on the real life events, most notably Al Capone. The movie is a classic, definitely worth a look, and superior in many ways to the remake starring Al Pacino.
½ February 12, 2015
Hawks is a true visionary. The remake is far superior, but the foundations that made it great came from Hawks.
February 7, 2015
Like most everyone I know, I saw the 1983 remake first, but I was thoroughly impressed with this original once I finally saw it. The remake actually stays fairly true to this one and for being made in the early 1930s, this one is still tough for today's audiences!
July 10, 2009
A strong indictment of the ubiquitous Chicago gangsters of the 1930s. Muni offers an excellent (if occasionally exaggerated) performance. Best Jewish imitation of an Italian I've seen since Estelle Getty in Golden Girls.

Not the most cogent or well-flowing story. Relies more on impact & isolated scenery. Seems in some way, choppy. Doesn't flow. Hard to follow. Like this paragraph.

The tirade from the wiser-than-thou reporter, who thought federal regulation was the answer to stopping crime, seemed out of place. Apparently, not much has changed in the media.

Anyway, it was extremely influential in the crime/gangster genre. There was some good pathos toward the end, but again, it ended up morphing into melodrama, & the ride there was pretty shaky.

It seems '30s women universally had bad posture.

However flawed, much better than the Pacino movie.
August 9, 2014
One of the seminal gangster films of the 1930s, along with Public Enemy and Little Caesar, stars Paul Muni as fast rising bootlegger Tony Cammante on Chicago's South Side. The role was obviously modeled after Al Capone. Scarface contained much more graphic screen violence than the other two films; so much so that director Howard Hughes had many battles with the Hollywood Production Code and was forced to tone down the violence.

Muni plays Cammante as a ferocious, contemptible thug, who lets his guns do the talking. Muni somehow makes Tony an appealing character, a guy who gets such a kick out of being a gangster that his enthusiasm spills off the screen (you can't help but smile at the scene where he first gets his hands on a Tommy Gun, acting as excited as a kid on Christmas morning). As far as the violence is concerned, director Howard Hawks rarely shows any on-screen killings, yet presents each murder in a manner that's just as poignant. When Boris Karloff's character, Gaffney, is gunned down in a bowling alley, we hear the shots that finish him off, but what we see is a bowling ball rolling down the lane, and a single pin toppling over, as if to signify the deed's been done.

Paul Muni gives a towering performance as the brutish and heartless Tony Camonte, making the character utterly despicable and leaving all likable traits at the door. Despite its relentless violence and perverse scenes involving Camonte and his sister (Ann Dvorak), there are some lighter scenes played to wondrous comic effect such as when Muni's secretary (Vince Barnett) fumbles with the telephone or when Muni returns to the theater after a hit to see how it ended.

Paul Muni delivers a near career best performance as Tony. He's the right amount or arrogant and his single minded goal drives his character to the edge several times. He wonderfully portrays nonchalance under fire and a conceited attitude towards the police. Despite being nominated for six Oscars, he was snubbed for this role. George Raft plays a quiet and reserved role but his coin flipping is scarily ominous. He plays a realistic character and is slightly underused in my opinion. Scarface is full of delicious imagery, like the "X" symbol that shows up whenever anyone is dead or as good as dead. Or the scene in which Camonte's men are roughing up a bootleg bartender. Hawks zeroes in not on the violence, but on the beer tap running over onto the floor. Or the scene that Truffaut immortalized, when rival gang leader Boris Karloff gets rubbed out while bowling, and a single pin remains spinning and standing for a second longer before falling.

The cinematography is notable for its 'X' motif. In many of the murder scenes, an overtly visible X is present on the screen. This takes the form of shadows, window lattices, iron railings and slithers of light but it's almost always present. It's a really interesting visual and matches the scar found on Tony's left cheek. Martin Scorsese paid homage to this idea in his Oscar winning The Departed, putting the same X on screen during his movie's death scenes. Overall the film looks very good. There are several fast paced action scenes which look expensive and the interior sets are well designed. The costumes too, look fantastic. Gangsters always look great on screen but Camonte and his cohort look incredibly well dressed. Likewise the female cast members are attired in stunning gowns and have excellent hair.

Ann Dvorak excels in the role of Tony's sister while Karen Morley is slightly more wooden, although her Poppy is merely window dressing than fully fledged character in the script. Osgood Perkins plays the downtrodden boss role very well and there's a small role for Boris Karloff.
½ November 23, 2014
Scarface has some great moments including the terrific ending, it's relevant, well-acted and has stellar direction from always great Howard Hawks, but the characters are nothing to write home about and the plot is neither memorable nor particularly entertaining.
October 30, 2013
This is the masterpiece of gangster genre, due to Howard Hughes as to Howard Hawks. (both directed in reality).
½ July 20, 2014
Muni's other great film next to "chain gang"
TheDudeLebowski65
Super Reviewer
August 19, 2014
One of the defining gangster films, this is a classic of the genre, one of the first films to really establish the gangster film and adding elements of visceral violence, which for its time was ahead of its time. Scarface is a phenomenal film, a film that is well acted, entertaining and well paced and manages to be a highly captivating film that is well worth your time if you enjoy the genre. The performances here are great and each actor brings something that elevates the film significantly. Plenty of gangster films have been released since then, but Scarface has a secured place as one of the finest examples of what a crime film should be. Simple, yet effective in its execution, this is a great film, a masterwork of cinema, one that showcases brilliant acting and storytelling that is never boring, and with that being said, it's quite impressive to see a film like this having been made during this period. The film is action packed with the right blend of drama and thrills to make it a worthwhile and memorable experience for viewers that enjoy a solidly paced gangster film. For its short run time, Scarface does a lot more than most genre films that are nearly three hours in length. This is filmmaking at its very best and it's a movie that is sure to appeal to any film buff that enjoys a well crafted picture. Scarface still holds quit well by today's standards, and it's one of the defining films that has helped shape the gangster genre.
½ March 8, 2014
The gangster film to define future gangster films, Scarface is truly an amazing film, with an incredible performance from Paul Muni and glorious violence, making this a must see for film lovers.
½ August 7, 2014
I've now finally seen the big three original gangster flicks of the early 1930s, which includes this, Edward G. Robinson in "Little Caesar" and James Cagney in "The Public Enemy." This is easily the best of the three, as well as being far superior to the gratuitously unpleasant 1983 "remake" which has little to do with this original other than the title.

Though Robinson and Cagney give two of the greatest and most iconic performances in their respective films, Paul Muni as Tony Camonte is more nuanced. And despite the fact that he is clearly a villain, he's surprisingly easy to root for; that is, when he's not slapping his sister around.

The only time the film drags at all is when it veers away from Camonte's criminal life to show the other side, the Law and the concerned citizenry. Luckily there is only one extended scene of that.

Otherwise, "Scarface" surprisingly keeps a quick pace and has visual style to spare--two things that are a breath of fresh air in the context of the time period--showing why Howard Hawks was one of the best film directors in the history of the medium. Even the two female characters, which are usually just around for eye candy and plot points in these films, are interesting, complex characters, thanks to good writing by Ben Hecht and crew and stand-out performances by Ann Dvorak and Karen Morley.

Easily one of the best gangster films of the cinema's nearly 90-year history in the genre.
July 22, 2014
You really shouldn't compare it to the De Palma remake, but it still plays as like a Cliff Notes version of the remake. Still, must've been shocking for its time.
February 25, 2014
gr8 pre-code gangsta pic directed by the gr8 howard hawks
June 18, 2009
Arguably more exciting and less seedy than its 1980s remake, this has some great action scenes, moody lighting and some amusing dialogue. In barely 90mins, it gets the 'power corrupts' message over very strongly. 8.25/10
December 25, 2013
solid film. I was very surprised to see how many things this movie had in common with the 80's remake. While the setting is completely different some of the major plot points are the same. Also a surprising amount of political and social commentary which unfortunately at times feels a little goofy or forced. Some solid old timey gangster talk.
½ December 9, 2013
Say Hello to the Original Scarred Madman--A Monster Who Whistles Opera Arias!!
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