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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Shame of the Nation

Scarface (1932) on IMDb

Plot Overview

"The World is Yours," says the Cook's Tour neon sign outside the digs of upwardly (underworldly) mobile tough guy Tony Camonte (Paul Muni.) He with his hench­man buddy Guino Rinaldo (George Raft) take over the First Ward from the conveniently departed mob boss “Big Louie” Costillo (Harry J. Vejar) on behalf of their new boss Johnny Lovo (Osgood Perkins.) The news­paper head­line reads, "Costillo Slaying Starts Gang War." Tony is not loyal to Lovo. He puts the moves on Lovo's moll Poppy (Karen Morley.) He makes trouble by expanding into the North Side (“I'm gonna write my name all over this town … in big letters!”) with­out Lovo's blessing. He keeps a tight rein on his carousing 18-year-old (“I don't want any­one kissing my sister”) Cesca (Ann Dvorak.) He is full of him­self. When his shenanigans go south, the cops move in.


Mrs. Camonte (Inez Palange) already laments that she's lost her son Tony to a life of crime; she's worried, now, that Tony's influence (“Hey, Cesca, you and me, huh?”) will corrupt her daughter as well. The cautionary proverb (Prov. 1:10-19) reads:

My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood. Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird. And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives. So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.

Production Values

The gangster film, “Scarface” (1932) was produced by Howard Hughes and directed by Howard Hawks & Robert Rossen—it being arguably the first indie film. It was adapted from Armitage Trail's novel. It stars Paul Muni, Ann Dvorak, Karen Morley, C. Henry Gordon, George Raft, Vince Barnett, and Boris Karloff. Muni was quite good bringing his acting talent from the Jewish theater. A good supporting cast were all over­shadowed by Muni's tomfoolery. There is a little bit of period music in it, and the pace never lets up. When the movie rating system was developed, it got a PG. Watch for an on-screen ‘X’ when­ever a murder occurs.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I currently just read a Kate Wilhelm novel, Wrongful Death, part of the Barbara Holloway series following a female lawyer who practices law in the quiet town of Eugene, Oregon. The villains really come out of the wood­work when­ever she's around, with lots of intrigue. That makes it a nail-biting read, but it's not how I like to picture the peaceful town where I live. “Scar­face” similarly is stuffed to the gills with criminal mayhem, the object of which being to motivate the viewer (and his government) to crack down on crime. [The Soviet Union in the '70s used it as propa­ganda to depict life in America.] If you like shoot-'em-ups, well, you'll get it here. It's the grand­daddy of all gangster films having since sprouted many imitations in the genre.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Special effects: Well done special effects. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with parental guidance. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.