A film crew goes to a tropical island for an exotic location shoot and discovers a colossal ape who takes a shine to their female blonde star. He is then captured and brought back to New York City for public exhibition.
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
In the book this film is based on ("Scarface" by Armitage Trail), Antonio 'Tony' Camonte is born Antonio 'Tony' Guarino with his brother Ben Guarino. After several crimes the police are looking for him so he goes off to war, gets his scar, and when he returns he finds out he had been reported dead and no one recognizes him because of his scar. He becomes Antonio 'Tony' Camonte and starts a new life. This is where the film begins. That means if we're staying true to the book, Insp. Ben Guarino is his brother. 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 »
"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 »
A friend of mine was so incensed when he told me that the Al Pacino film Scarface was contemplating to be remade. 'Why do they want to spoil the classics?'
I told him that the the 1983 version that he loves so much was a remake!
Howard Hawks 1932 original is a pre Hays code version based on mobsters in Chicago at the time. Tony 'Scarface' Camonte (Paul Muni) is a bodyguard for a bootlegger Big Louis Costillo who he kills. The ambitious Tony wants a piece of the action, a step up the ladder and joins up with another mobster, Johnny Lovo who arranged the hit and got Tony out of police custody.
This is the beginning of the gang wars in Chicago as Lovo expands his operation, Tony who is more aggressive in taking out his rivals is aided by his coin flipping sidekick Guino Rinaldo (George Raft.)
Tony is attracted by Lovo's dame Poppy (Karen Morley) and plans to one day bump off Lovo. After all Tony thinks the world is his and there for the taking. However he also has an almost incestous obsession with his sister, the floozy Cesca who herself is attracted to Guino.
This is a violent gangster film, with some grisly dark humour. There is a tabloid feel to this picture. It starts of with some moralising that the government is doing nothing to stop the gang warfare, there is talk at one point of deporting these thugs, they are not even American citizens.
I was rather taken aback with how strong the violent action scenes would be for the audience of the time. Tony loves firing that machine gun. The film rattles along at quite a pace and yet also feels strangely offbeat.
It is noticeable how much of the fundamental story is later used by Brian De Palma for his updated version.
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