The film is based on the story of Al Capone, the famous American gangster of the 1920s. However, due to legal restrictions and censorship, the character of Tony Camonte, played by Paul Muni, was created as a fictionalized version of Capone.
“Scarface” follows the story of Tony Camonte, an ambitious Italian immigrant who arrives in Chicago during the Prohibition era. Tony becomes a ruthless killer and makes his way into the world of organized crime, eliminating his rivals and trying to gain more and more power. The film explores themes such as violence, greed, corruption and the rise and fall of the criminal.
The film is known for its graphic and realistic violence, which was considered very audacious at the time. It was one of the first films to openly address the subject of organized crime and established many of the cinematic gangster archetypes we still see today.
Paul Muni’s performance as Tony Camonte was admired and praised. He brought a great intensity to the character and made Tony a complex and fascinating individual despite his criminal nature. The film also has a strong supporting cast, including George Raft as a rival gangster and Ann Dvorak as Tony’s sister.
Despite being a box office success and receiving good reviews from critics, ‘Scarface’ faced censorship issues due to its violent and morally ambiguous content. The film was even banned in several countries and underwent various changes to fit the censorship regulations of the time.
1932’s “Scarface” is a pioneering gangster film that set the standard for many subsequent films of the genre. Its history of criminal ambition and violence made the film a landmark in the cinematic landscape, and Paul Muni’s performance helped make Tony Camonte’s character memorable.
The plot of 1932’s “Scarface” revolves around Tony Camonte, an Italian immigrant who arrives in Chicago during the Prohibition era. Tony is an ambitious and ruthless individual who wants to move up the ladder of organized crime.
Tony is spotted by Johnny Lovo, a mob boss, who offers him a job at his alcohol racket. Tony demonstrates his prowess in mercilessly fighting and killing Lovo’s gang rivals, earning his trust and ascendancy in the criminal hierarchy.
Tony becomes increasingly powerful and controls the illicit alcohol market, using brutal methods to get rid of his opponents. Meanwhile, he begins an affair with Poppy, Lovo’s girlfriend, straining their relationship.
As his influence grows, Tony becomes increasingly obsessed with power and wealth. However, his desire for domination leads him to make fatal mistakes. His violent methods draw the attention of the police and Tony becomes a target for law enforcement.
Tensions rise when Tony’s rival gangster Gaffney tries to kill him. Tony manages to survive the attack and decides to take revenge, killing Gaffney and his men. This act provokes a reaction from the authorities, who intensify their efforts to capture Tony and put an end to his criminal reign.
The story of “Scarface” depicts the rise and fall of a ruthless criminal, showing the dangers of ambition and violence. The film explores the themes of corruption, greed and the inevitable consequences of the world of organized crime.
Here are some of the key characters in the 1932 film “Scarface”:
Tony Camonte (played by Paul Muni): He is the film’s protagonist, an ambitious and unscrupulous Italian immigrant who becomes a ruthless gangster in Chicago during the Prohibition era. Tony is determined to move up the ladder of organized crime, but his lust for power leads to his downfall.
Johnny Lovo (played by Osgood Perkins): He is a crime boss who takes Tony under his wing and offers him a job in the alcohol racketeering. Lovo is initially a mentor to Tony, but their relationship becomes complicated when Tony begins an affair with Poppy, Lovo’s girlfriend.
Poppy (played by Karen Morley): She is the girlfriend of Johnny Lovo and later becomes the lover of Tony Camonte. His presence in the world of organized crime creates tensions and rivalries between Tony and Lovo.
Cesca (portrayed by Ann Dvorak): She is Tony’s sister and has a complicated relationship with him. Cesca is protective of her brother, but disapproves of his violent actions and tries to distance herself from his criminal underworld.
Gaffney (played by Boris Karloff): He is a rival gangster of Tony who seeks to eliminate his gang and take control of the alcohol market. Gaffney becomes one of Tony’s main enemies, leading to violent clashes between the two factions.
These are just some of the main characters in the 1932 film ‘Scarface’. The film also features a variety of other supporting characters, such as policemen, gang members and figures from the criminal milieu, which contribute to the plot and atmosphere of the film.
The 1932 film “Scarface” was directed by Howard Hawks and produced by Howard Hughes through his production company, Hughes Productions.
The screenplay for the film was written by Ben Hecht, based on a novel by Armitage Trail called “Scarface” (which was itself inspired by the life of gangster Al Capone). The film was distributed by United Artists.
The film’s production faced some challenges, especially in relation to censorship. Due to its violent and morally ambiguous content, “Scarface” underwent several edits to fit the censorship regulations of the time. Some scenes have been cut or shortened, and changes have been made to the plot to tone down the negative and gritty tone of the protagonist. Despite these changes, the film still faced restrictions and bans in several countries.
The production of the film had a relatively modest budget, but managed to create an authentic representation of the Prohibition era, with detailed sets and careful costumes. The film is also notable for its use of location shooting in Chicago, which adds a sense of realism and setting to the story.
‘Scarface’ received good critical reception and was successful at the box office. Despite censorship restrictions, the film managed to leave a lasting impression on the cinematic landscape, becoming a classic of the gangster genre and influencing many subsequent films.
Importantly, in 1983, a new version of “Scarface” was made directed by Brian De Palma, with Al Pacino in the lead role. This makeover enjoyed great success and achieved the status of cult moviefurther fueling interest in the story of gangster Tony Montana.
Distribution and Reception
The 1932 film “Scarface” was released by United Artists. Upon its release, it received a mixed reaction from audiences and critics.
From the point of view of critical reception, “Scarface” has attracted intense debate due to its violent and gritty content. Some critics praised the film’s courage in revealing the world of organized crime unveiled, praising Howard Hawks’ direction and Paul Muni’s performance as Tony Camonte. However, other critics criticized the film’s graphic violence and morally ambiguous tone.
The film’s distribution experienced some difficulties due to the censorship restrictions of the time. “Scarface” was banned in several countries, and in many others it was cut or edited to fit local censorship rules. This affected the film’s international distribution and exposure.
Despite the controversies, ‘Scarface’ had some success at the box office. It attracted audiences interested in the gangster genre and helped establish many of the archetypes that still characterize organized crime cinema today.
As time went on, the film gained increasing recognition and reputation as a classic of the gangster genre. It has been recognized for its audacity and its influence on later cinema. Paul Muni’s performance was particularly praised and Tony Camonte’s character has become a cinematic icon.
Interestingly, while the 1932 version achieved moderate success, it was the 1983 version of “Scarface,” directed by Brian De Palma and starring Al Pacino, that achieved great critical and commercial success, becoming a cult film and helping to raise interest in the story of gangster Tony Montana.
The style of 1932’s “Scarface” is characterized by several distinctive features that make it a memorable and influential film in the gangster genre.
Gritty Realism: The film features gritty realism in its depiction of the violence and brutality of the world of organized crime. Shooting and murder scenes are presented in a straightforward and unfussy manner, creating an impression of stark authenticity.
Dark Atmosphere: “Scarface” employs a dark and tense atmosphere that permeates the entire film. The use of light and shadow, the dark environments and the sharp dialogues contribute to the atmosphere of danger and paranoia.
Intense Performances: The performances of the actors, especially that of Paul Muni as Tony Camonte, are characterized by extraordinary intensity and passion. Muni fully embodies his character’s ambition and violence, bringing remarkable energy and charisma to the screen.
Sharp Dialogues: Ben Hecht’s screenplay is known for its sharp and raw dialogues. The jokes are full of sarcasm, cynicism and harshness, reflecting the atmosphere of the criminal world and helping to define the characters.
Dynamic editing: The editing of the film is characterized by a dynamism which helps to maintain a fast pace. The action sequences are tightly mounted, creating a mounting tension and a sense of urgent danger.
Visual Iconography: “Scarface” features powerful visual iconography, with the use of iconic symbols and imagery that have influenced the gangster genre. The image of Tony Camonte with his scar on his face has become a recognizable icon of cinema.
These stylistic elements helped make “Scarface” a distinctive and influential film in the gangster genre. His gritty, realistic style, combined with powerful performances and sharp dialogue, set a benchmark for many subsequent films in the genre.
The director of 1932 “Scarface” is Howard Hawks. Hawks was a prolific and versatile filmmaker who worked across multiple film genres throughout his career. He is considered one of the great masters of cinema and has left a significant imprint on the cinematic landscape.
Howard Hawks was known for his ability to direct films with fast pace, fast dialogue and strong characters. His directorial style was characterized by great technical mastery, fluid storytelling and an ability to convey authenticity in his work.
‘Scarface’ was one of the first major films directed by Hawks, and is considered one of his masterpieces early. The film was an example of his talent for creating dark and realistic atmospheres, as well as directing intense performances from the actors.
Despite the controversy that surrounded “Scarface” due to its violent and morally ambiguous content, the film showed Hawks’ ability to tackle complex themes and present them in a raw and direct way. He also demonstrated his ability to direct dynamic and engaging action sequences.
Howard Hawks went on to direct several other blockbuster films throughout his career including ˜His Girl Friday’, ˜The Big Sleep’ and ˜Rio Bravo’. His contribution to cinema was significant and left a lasting imprint on the cinematic landscape, influencing many subsequent directors.