#68 Scarface: The Shame of the Nation (1932)

We’ve seen two successful gangster films already on this list- Little Caesar and The Public Enemy. Any films about the gangster life were always risky to make. Meet the riskiest, most violent one of all. Scarface: The Shame of the Nation is about watching a ruthless, maniacal gangster rise to the top during the Depression era with his emotions leading to his downfall.

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Paul Muni from I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang is back as Tony “Scarface” Camonte, the violent, raving, remorseless gangster who treats every murderous act like it’s business, trying his hardest to show no emotion and not letting anyone stop him. Each person he kills is like a game to him- a bunch of objects with targets on their heads. Taking out the opposing mob makes him feel like the winner. It’s not until someone close to him dies that lead to his downfall. The character of Scarface expresses his ideology many times in that he believes the world belong to him. If he runs the world, he is free to take anyone out. Despite the fact that there’s no gore throughout this film, I still consider Scarface to be more violent compared to the previous two considering you see bullets flying all around people, being thrown out of cars, drive bys, and even the sound of those machine guns gave me chills.

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This is another film where even though it was made during the Pre-Code era, it still was not allowed to glamorize gang violence. Worries came from the fact that the source material was based off of notorious gangster Al Capone so the film couldn’t be called “The Al Capone Story.” In fact, the film wasn’t allowed to just be called “Scarface” either. They had to add “The Shame of the Nation” in order to show the MPAA the negative consequences that the gang life could bring to the world. There’s even a title in the beginning of the film that asks the police what they will do about gang violence, giving audiences a strict message not become like these people. Despite these restrictions, it was still banned in many states and took over a year to show in Chicago. I loved the symbolism in the film with the Xs as a hint to when death is coming. Where were the Xs placed throughout the film? 

Watch United Artist’s ultimate gangster film and comment your reactions:

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One thought on “#68 Scarface: The Shame of the Nation (1932)

  1. Pingback: #111 The Life of Emile Zola (1937) – Oh, For the Love of 1001 Films!

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