The 1920s and the 1930s saw the rise of organized crime and the creation of the Mafia in the United States… One of the things that helped the ‘mob’ was the prohibition era, due to their ability to mass produce and secretly deliver booze to speakeasy’s all over the country…
Since then though Hollywood has spent years romanticizing the mafia, and creating an almost mystique over it… A few examples of this would be movies such as, The Godfather series (This movie showed the closeness of the family, and in some cases (like Fredo) the harm that can come from betraying the family!
Now with all of this in mind, being a fan of mob movies like Casino (1995), Goodfellas (1990). etc… And what with the recent spate of really old movies that I have been watching. I figure it only natural that I get to some of the older classic mob movies, such as Scarface…
Written by: Ben Hecht (Stagecoach), Fred Pasley, Seton I. Miller (The Crowd Roars), John Lee Mahin (Tiger Shark) and W.R. Burnett (Dark Hazard). Co-Directed by: Howard Hawks (The Thing From Another World) and Richard Rosson (Today We Live). Starring: Paul Muni (Hudson’s Bay), Ann Dvorak (‘G’Men), Karen Morley (The Mask Of Fu Manchu), Osgood Perkins (Madame Du Barry) and Boris Karloff (Frankenstein)
Scarface tells the story of Tony Camonte (Muni), a mafia man who will do anything to get to the top in the Chicago mob…
What I mean by this is that in the beginning of the movie Tony’s old boss Louis Castillo (Played by: Harry J. Vejar) is having a meeting at a local restaurant. Now after this meeting is over with, Louis head in to the back where a man (whom we can’t see, but it is pretty safe to assume that it is Tony) walks up to Castillo and kills him…
After this Tony and his new boss Johnny Lovo (Perkins) who is Tony’s new boss, and the rest of his group head in to the 1st Ward Athletic club (Big Louis old joint) and takes it over. After this Johnny and Tony begin to quickly rise in the ranks muscling all of the local Speakeasy’s in the south side of Chicago in to taking their beer orders from them as opposed to other local Beer runners.
During this time, he gets Tony, (who is beginning to get aspirations of rising to the top) to begin to make inroads in to the Northside of Chicago…
He does this by pissing off a local mob boss, gun runner by the name of Gaffney (Karloff), by killing a man with some sort of mob ties in a flower shop.
With that said, as Camonte is making his rise to the top he will have to avoid the Police, his own boss is already beginning to overthrow), as well as stop Gaffney and his gang before his rise to power is his downfall!
With that said, what I like about this movie and what I truly believe makes this an awesome b movie is a couple of things:
1. When Brian DePalma made his version of Scarface in 1983, the intention was to make that version a remake of the 1932 Scarface, but unfortunately due to budget constraints at the time, both movies are stand alone films.
2. Reportedly, Chicago mobster Al Capone liked this movie so much that he at one point owned a copy of the movie!
3. In the movie there is a scene in which Tony is watching a play that he seems deeply interested but gets called away at the beginning of the last act… The play was W. Somerset Maugham’s, ‘Sadie Thompson’.
4. In 1994 this movie was selected by the U.S. Library of Congress to be preserved in the national film registry because of its being, ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.’
5. This movie is based on the novel by Armitage Trail, which is also titled, ‘Scarface’.
6. I also thought that I should mention that Osgood Perkins (who played Johnny Lovo) in this movie is the father of Psycho star, Anthony Perkins.
With that said folks, if you are looking for a classic mob movie, that is both entertaining and will keep you at the edge of your seat. Then this one is definitely a worthy one (I mean this is one of the films that started the mob movie craze that has lasted for several decades!)