Scarface - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Scarface Reviews

Page 1 of 44
½ September 17, 2016
Not the Al Pacino one, but an amazing movie regardless.
½ May 30, 2016
This early gangster movie was sort of based on Al Capone's life. The first half maybe but the second half is fiction. Al Capone was still running the mob in Chicago when this movie was made. The story is based on the bootleggers in Chicago and was considered controversial at the time. Compared to modern movies this movie is tame.
½ May 14, 2016
An early mob film which doesn't involve Jimmy Cagney, for a change. Obviously highly influential but still not too exciting. What's interesting is that the filmmakers make a point of stating that they are only showing all these atrocities as a protest to the government at the time as a demand for them to sort out the Mafia.
½ May 9, 2016
Featuring an unsettling performance by Paul Muni and surprisingly graphic violence for its time, "Scarface" did what few films before it had done; raised awareness about a contemporary issue. Though the film itself is somewhat bland, the fact that "Scarface" single-handedly started the gangster-film genre and its historical significance make it a classic and a must-see.
½ April 29, 2016
Because of films like this, we call the 30s, and 40s, the golden age.
½ February 16, 2016
I can't say I gravitate toward watching movies on organized crime, but this was one is excellent for its realism, critique (of government/law enforcement) and sharp dialogue. The story and characters are engaging from end to end and given the time period in which it was made, I am surprised by its provocativeness. The brother-sister scenes make me squirm! I would've liked better resolution for the Tony-Poppy dynamic. There's all this build up and then it abruptly drops off.
January 17, 2016
Good movie and a
great start to the gangster genre.
January 7, 2016
An anti gangster film, a classical too.
January 1, 2016
I really enjoyed this old classic gangster movie, the original Scarface. I watched it in Film class and gave a presentation on it.
October 17, 2015
The 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.
½ August 14, 2015
Solid, defining Gangster picture. Paul Muni sneers and mumbles his way to the top, but that can never last forever...
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 July 4, 2015
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.
April 25, 2015
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.
March 6, 2015
Boring, only bc I'm so used to modern day movies. However, I do own this original flick bc I have the Scarface Collector's Special Boxed Set.
February 18, 2015
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!
January 30, 2015
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.
December 29, 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.
Page 1 of 44