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Paul Muni , Ann Dvorak , Howard Hawks , Richard Rosson    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Howard Hawks's Scarface was one of the first "talkies" to reclaim the fluidity of the late-silent masterpieces, while also tapping into a feral new energy that came with talking smart and moving smarter on the motion picture screen. Outgunning such contemporaries as Little Caesar and The Public Enemy--in terms of both its ferocious death-dealing and dynamic style--the movie was interfered with by censors and kept out of circulation for decades thanks to its eccentric producer, Howard Hughes. It remains the gold standard among classic gangster pictures. Paul Muni's portrayal of Al Capone surrogate Tony Camonte etched a screen original: a merciless assassin who's not only reflexively criminal but pre-civilized, almost pre-evolutionary, a simian shadow ready to rub out the world if he can't have it for his own. This is still one of the greatest, darkest, most deeply exciting films American cinema has produced. Those demonically ubiquitous X's--starting with that titular scar gouged into Tony's cheek--rival "Rosebud" for resonance. --Richard T. Jameson

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Quintessential Gangster Film of The 30's! July 31 2000
Format:VHS Tape
A gritty, fast-paced gangster film that ranks among the best. Made with a purpose in 1932, take into consideration for example the complete title; 'Scarface: The Shame Of A Nation' and the beginning credits that ask you 'what are you going to do about it?', very straightforward but naïveté aside this is one of the best gangster films of all time. Paul Muni delivers a powerful performance, he is a driving force throughout the movie. Muni plays Tony Camonte, a character that is more than 'loosely' based on Al Capone. He easily dominates every scene he's in except one or two scenes that get stolen by Ann Dvorak as his sultry little sister. George Raft is equally impressive as Tony's best friend and partner in crime. Boris Karloff, fresh from the success of 'Frankenstein' just one year earlier, also appears as one of Tony's competitors. Ann Dvorak is excellent as Tony's sultry sister who is also in love (or is it lust?) with Tony's best friend (Raft). Scandalous at the time particularly because of the unhealthy relationship between Tony and his sister. Those hints of incest are still kind of shocking today. Some of the elements were taken from real life like the 'St. Valentine Day Massacre' for example and the name 'Scarface' is directed at Al Capone himself. The ending is a knockout. An intense and brutal gangster drama that's brilliantly directed by Hawks. A remake was attempted in the 80's with Brian DePalma and Al Pacino in the role of Tony Montana, but was much more graphic and violent not to mention overlong. This remains the best of the Scarface films. From a scale of 1-10 I give this film an 8!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very potent (anti)gangster film July 26 2010
By falcon TOP 1000 REVIEWER
this 1932 Gangster film is probably the Granddaddy of all Gangster film.but it really isn't a Gangster picture.it doesn't glorify organized crime/the mafia at all.in fact,it takes the opposite view.sometimes it's as if you're watching a public service announcement or a political campaign to rid the the city/state/country of the mob.it's as if the actors are actually speaking directly to the audience.and maybe they were.regardless,there's no question how powerful the movie is,and how much influence it has had on all films of the genre.the acting is first rate here.Paul Muni is mesmerizing as Antonio 'Tony' Camonte,the main character.but Anne Dvorak as Francesca 'Cesca' Camonte is also brilliant.of the three big films of this genre that came out around the same time(The Public Enemy starring James Cagney,(1931)and Little Caesar,Starring Edward G.Robinson(1931),in my mind this is by far the most powerful and influential.for me,Scarface(1932)is a 5/5
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LOOK OUT I'M GONNA SPIT!!!!! May 13 2004
Format:VHS Tape
i find it amazing to think of all of those scarface fans out there that haven't heard of or haven't seen the original. i know it's hard to get but if you can track it down watch this movie you will be glad you did.seeing the 1983 version first, the 1932 version seems condensed but it carries the same weight and the same great storyline.it is a film that definitely stands out from other films of that time period and a film that needs to be respected because it IS the original and it spawned the greatest movie of all time. A MUST SEE!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Dated but still a classic Aug. 22 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Prior to purchasing this, I've heard of its existence and through the years, many have referred to this movie as pivotal and influential to the mobster/mafia movie genre. Now having watched it, it is quite riveting with a passionate performance by Paul Muni. Noticed that most of the documentaries I've watched about the prohibition era and Al Capone used clips from this movie. The thing that pushed me to finally purchase this movie by Howard Hughes was after learning a little more about it from the movie Aviator. No regrets...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Shame of the Nation Dec 8 2003
By Noctem
Format:VHS Tape
Scarface. No, not the one with Al Pacino. This is the one from 1932. And it happens to be one of the most potent crime films ever made, as well as one of the most pioneering -- and most undervalued. As the gangster craze swept Hollywood, Howard Hawks, one of the most ground breaking yet unheralded directors in the history of film, forged Scarface in 1930, but because of its commitment to realism (that means lot's of killing), it was delayed for two years by the Production Code of Ethics. When it was finally released, the damage was done: it bombed, and this awesome, scary film would ultimately fall into obscurity. Amazing. The script was based on the 1930 novel by Armitage Trail, which was ultimately inspired by the exploits of Chicago's crimelord, the one and only Al Capone. Sadly, little of the original novel was kept except for the title. However, it must be said that the Big Man loved the film. Paul Muni plays the title role to perfection. His very presense is a threat.
Tony Camonte (Muni) is brutal, arrogant, stupid, and, dare I say, ape-like. He is a killer who revels in gaudy clothes and fast cars. But Tony is also insanely jealous of his slinky sister (Ann Dvorak), to the point where his feelings toward her are obliquely incestuous. Sick of working for middle level gangsters, Tony sets out to make a name for himself written in the (unseen!) blood of his enemies (including rival gangster, Boris Karloff!). Tony's boss Johnny Lovo (Osgood Perkins) not only has the power that Tony desires....but also the woman he wants, Poppy (Karen Morley). Among the film's inventiveness, a visual X motif appears throughout to signal that a murder is imminent. The X symbol takes such prolific forms as shadows, gown straps, wooden cross-beams, a facial scar, and a strike symbol on a bowling score sheet.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars X
Paul Muni the greatest character actor of all time. Paul never liked film acting, he loved the stage. Read more
Published on Oct. 17 2003 by Kevin
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Gangster Film
Howard Hawk's Scarface will always stand as the epitome of the early 1930's gangster film. The early talkie stars Paul Muni as Tony Camonte loosely based on the real life Al... Read more
Published on Oct. 7 2003 by Bryan A. Pfleeger
5.0 out of 5 stars Chilling gangster tale that still packs a punch
"Scarface", belongs to the trio of classic gangster films with "Public Enemy", and "Little Caesar", of the early thirties that defined forever what a gangster or crime tale should... Read more
Published on May 18 2003 by Simon Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars X Marks The Spot!
One of the greatest (if not THE greatest) gangster films of all time, Scarface outdistances the 80's remake as surely as Van Sant's PSYCHO is outshined by its predecessor. Read more
Published on April 3 2003 by Edward M. Erdelac
The life and death of a Chicago gangster in the twenties. Famous for it's silvery cinematography by Lee Garmes and it's unique stylish touches by director Howard Hawks, SCARFACE... Read more
Published on Nov. 11 2002 by "scotsladdie"
5.0 out of 5 stars crazysexycool
Crazysexycool is the best way I can describe Paul Muni's character in Scarface. Muni,as always is excellent. Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2002 by S. M. Rhyne
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT PERFORMANCE FOR 1932.
This movie was really very good. The acting was pure and realistic. Paul Muni was actually very handsome. Maybe it's because of the bad boy image. Read more
Published on Aug. 9 2002 by Evelyn O. Simon
1.0 out of 5 stars Stick with Brian De Palma's version.
Boy, does Scarface stink. It's badly acted, with inept direction from Howard Hawks, and features a musical score more fit for a comedy. Read more
Published on March 3 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the 30's gangster movies.
Although there were many movies similar to this one made in the 30's and 40's, I feel that this one stands out for it's realism and spark. Read more
Published on Aug. 29 2000 by Century
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