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 was the tenth most popular movie at the U.S. box office for 1932. See more »
In the alternate ending, Tony is sentenced to hang December 10, 1931. The method of execution in Illinois in 1931 was electrocution. The last judicial hanging in Illinois occurred in 1928. See more »
You know, Costillo was the last of the old fashioned style gang leaders. There is a new crew coming out. And every guy that's got money enough to buy a gun is going to try to step into his place, you see? They'll be shooting each other like rabbits for the control of the booze business!
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"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 »
I just watched "Scarface" for the 3rd or 4th time, and was surprised to find out that I no longer find it utterly perfect. Vince Barnett's vaudevillian comic bits are too long, and the constant underscoring of the film's anti-violence "message" is awkward. But I still think the film has a lot of great things in it, and I would definitely recommend it. As everyone else mentioned, Paul Muni is excellent as dopey gangster Tony Camonte, and this time I was knocked out by Karen Morley's performance as a no-nonsense moll; I hope I can find some other films of hers. I'm not sure the movie works as the anti-violence film it claims to be: Although Tony Camonte has a lot of faults, the non-gangster characters are mostly undeveloped and dull, if not downright problematic, like the police inspector who apparently likes to beat up arrestees. Edwin Maxwell's tough-talking Chief of Detectives has the right idea about the "lice" who shoot innocent bystanders during their crime sprees, but his character is a bit too one-note to compete with Paul Muni and George Raft. In fact, I think George Raft's character is subtly made into the hero of the film, despite all the illegal things he does. Interestingly, the film is probably just as violent as many modern pictures--there are an awful lot of gunshot victims--but because it's in black and white, and each killing goes by quickly, audiences of today might find it rather tame. But Hawks makes excellent use of sound to try and convey the horror of some of the crimes: a woman screams chillingly, a dog barks in the distance. Did this film help rouse the public against Prohibition-era gangsters, or did it just continue the public's romance with them?
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