Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Scarface (1932)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Scarface (1932) (aka Scarface, The Shame of the Nation)

In this brutally realistic crime-gangster film produced by Howard Hughes and directed by Howard Hawks (and a great screen story by Ben Hecht), with its many X images signifying an impending murder - it was one of the boldest, most potent, raw and violently-brutal gangster-crime films ever made, portraying scandal, violence, and 28 on-camera murders; the film was based on Al Capone's life, by chronicling the rise and fall of Roaring 20's tough Chicago gangster and bootlegger Tony Camonte - a brutish, primeval character:

  • the title character was reptilian, trigger-happy maniac gangster Tony Camonte (Paul Muni); in the opening dark and shadowy scene, although he was the bodyguard for "Big Louis (Louie)" Costillo (Harry J. Vejar), an old-style gangster/boss on "top of the world", the trigger-happy, strong-arm Tony murdered his boss
  • Tony was fully revealed in an early scene in a barber's chair with his face and body wrapped in a towel and sheet - when unwrapped, the sheet revealed an immigrant face, an ugly X-shaped scar on his left upper cheek, and slicked-back, pomaded oily hair - the X on his face identified him as the title character of Scarface; he was accompanied by his associate and right-hand man - the unflappable and dapper Guino Rinaldo (George Raft) (in his famous coin-flipping role)
  • Tony was notified about the murder, accused of the crime, and dragged away to the police station for questioning, but claimed he was innocent of turning traitor to murder Louis Costillo due to his solid alibi; it was considered suspicious since Camonte had now switched bosses and was allied with his new bootlegging gangster boss Johnny Lovo (Osgood Perkins, father of actor Anthony Perkins) (who had also "split" from Costillo)
  • Tony visited his new boss, bushy mustached Johnny Lovo at his garish apartment, and leered at Lovo's tall, slender, flat-chested blonde mistress Poppy (Karen Morley) wearing a satiny white dressing gown; she became his new infatuation and he vigorously pursued her away from Lovo
  • Lovo's strategy was to expand his bootlegging business into the South Side of town, but for the time being, they had to avoid a confrontation with Irish rival crime lord O'Hara ("too big a guy to buck now") on the North Side; with Guino, Tony campaigned through the South Side to increase customers for Johnny Lovo's booze with strong-arm tactics; however, Lovo became angered and furious that Camonte was overexpanding into the North Side, jeopardizing their entire bootlegging racket by encroaching into O'Hara's territory - and slowly (and ambitiously) wresting control
  • the film was considered controversial due to the role of his sexy, strong-willed headstrong sister Cesca (Ann Dvorak) with whom he had an overprotective, close and almost-incestuous relationship; when Tony returned to his immigrant home run by his peasant Italian mother (Inez Palange), he became passionately angry when he caught Cesca kissing a suitor - he was instinctively possessive of her honor and sexuality and wanted to control her; she would soon develop a romantic relationship with Tony's pal Guino
  • to eliminate their North Side rival O'Hara, Guino (off-screen) murdered O'Hara in a North Side flower shop; one of the last surviving and remaining members of O'Hara's gang was Gaffney (Boris Karloff as a gangsterish-like Frankenstein) who now sought revenge toward Camonte with 'bootlegged' tommy-gun weapons and his own gang
  • a drive-by ambush was planned at the Columbia Cafe-Restaurant, where Tony was sweet-talking his moll Poppy: "I'm not hungry - except for you. You got something I like...Say, I've been waiting a long time. I'm crazy about you...I've got everything BUT what I want. Ya understand?"; the two had to duck for cover as rival gangster O'Hara's slow-moving hearse followed by other black cars (in a fake funeral procession) drove by the window-fronted restaurant and sprayed it with gunfire from their repeating tommy guns
  • Tony became excited at acquiring one of the gang's tommy guns: "Hey Johnny, look what I got!...Lookit, Johnny, you can carry it around like a baby...We don't give 'em time. We go after them. We throw them micks up for grabs... There's only one thing that gets orders and give orders. (He tapped the gun) And this is it. That's how I got the South Side for ya and that's how I'm gonna get the North Side for ya. Some little typewriter, eh? I'm gonna write my name all over this town with it in big letters...Get outta my way, Johnny, I'm gonna spit!"; he grabbed the gun into his arms and emptied a steady round of 'spitting' bullets into the wall
  • Tony's henchmen waged all-out war against Gaffney's gang, resulting in many murder/massacre scenes; a reconstructed "St. Valentine's Day Massacre" scene was prefaced with a closeup of a trellis of seven X criss-crossed beams in the ceiling above the seven victims; the camera slowly panned down to black silhouettes of seven of Gaffney's gang members; it was clear to police authorities that Tony's trigger-happy obliteration of the O'Hara gang also meant that he threatened to displace Lovo as the crime boss
  • shortly later, Gaffney, the last remaining lethal rival, was executed by Tony's gang in a bowling alley (signified by a strike on a score sheet)
  • later, Tony's jealousy and overprotectiveness led to a raging argument with Cesca: "Yeah, runnin' around with the fellas, huh? Lettin' 'em hold ya like that. Lettin' 'em look at you. Dressin' up like that for the fellas to see, huh?" (He ripped her spaghetti shoulder strap, baring her bra and slip); Cesca screamed back: "What I do with fellas is MY business!" (He slapped her repeatedly)
  • by this time, Johnny Lovo realized that the ascendant Tony was taking possession of both his mistress Poppy and his operation, and made plans to assassinate Tony; Tony evaded the hit-attack and then, believing that Lovo betrayed him and set him up for murder, he ordered Guino to murder Lovo; Lovo begged for his life, offered money ("all the dough you want") and his girlfriend ("Poppy - I'll let you have her") while denying that he crossed Tony, but to no avail
  • now as the undisputed crime boss, Tony took possession of his murdered ex-boss Johnny Lovo's mistress, the icy-cold and scheming blonde Poppy - and pointed out to her the blinking THE WORLD IS YOURS sign outside the window to reinforce his current position at the top of the underworld: ("Hey. Come here. Look at that. Do you remember what I told ya?")
  • the insanely-jealous and possessive Tony committed a very misguided and cold-blooded murder of his best friend Guino at his apartment building's doorway where he and Cesca lived together; afterwards, Cesca revealed that they had recently secretly married each other - she cursed her brother for being a "murderer" and a "butcher" in the fratricidal killing: "Tony, it's my Guino. I love him. We were married yesterday, Tony...We were going to surprise you - weren't we, Guino? Oh, God. He's dead. He's dead. He loved me, really loved me. (She pushed Tony away.) Don't touch me. Don't come near me. (He staggered toward her.) Stay away from me. You're not my brother. Don't you think I know? Murderer! He kills people. He kills everybody. He kills everything. He's a butcher. That's what you are. You're a butcher. You're a butcher"
  • the police sought to arrest Tony for the murder of Guino; Tony fled to the second floor of his hide-out - a steel-fortified apartment; Cesca arrived with a gun to seek vengeance against Tony, but couldn't pull the trigger; she befriended her dazed brother and reunited with him for certain, violent death
  • during the climactic and prolonged final shootout sequence, there were two death scenes: first Cesca who was mortally-wounded when hit by a stray bullet in the mid-section: (Tony reacted: "I'll be here all alone. You can't leave me here all alone...Cesca! You're all I've got left...I'm no good without you, Cesca. I'm no good by myself. Cesca!"), and she died in his arms
  • and then Tony's was hit and made a stumbling, staggering descent down the stairs to the front door where he offered a cowardly plea for his life: ("Gimme a break, will ya? Don't shoot. You got me covered. I can't do nothin'"), but many police guns opened fire and riddled his body with hundreds of bullets when he made a break for it, and died in the street's filthy gutter
  • in the film's final ironic image, the camera moved up and away from Tony's sprawled body toward the flashing electric sign that promised Tony the world: "THE WORLD IS YOURS"
Cesca's and Tony's Death Scene

Tony Camonte (Paul Muni) (nicknamed Scarface) in Barber's Chair

Tony's Coin Flipping Buddy Guino (George Raft)

Tony's Sister Cesca (Ann Dvorak)

Gaffney's Drive-By Shooting at Tony in a Cafe

Tony's Excitement Over a Tommy Gun

X's in Film Signified Murder - Rival Gangster Gaffney Was Murdered in a Bowling Alley

Tony with Cesca - He Was Incestuous and Extremely Jealous of Her Male Associations

Tony's Misguided Murder of Guino (with X in background)


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