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Completed in mid-1930, Scarface, based on Armitage Trail's novel of the same name, might have been the first of the great talkie gangster flicks, but it was held up for release until after that honor was jointly usurped by Little Caesar and Public Enemy. Paul Muni stars as prohibition-era mobster Tony Camonte, a character obviously patterned on Al Capone (whose nickname was "Scarface"). The homicidal Camonte ruthlessly wrests control of the bootlegging racket from his boss, Johnny Lovo (Osgood Perkins), and claims Lovo's mistress, Poppy (Karen Morley), in the bargain. But… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 100%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Scarface is one of best of the early gangster movies; its wit and building velocity speeds it past Little Caesar and keeps pace with Public Enemy."
‑ Mark Chalon Smith, Los Angeles Times
"Howard Hawks's 1932 masterpiece is a dark, brutal, exhilaratingly violent film, blending comedy and horror in a manner that suggests Chico Marx let loose with a live machine gun."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"The greatest gangster movie of the 1930s -- and that means the greatest ever."
‑ Adrian Turner, Radio Times
"Vivid gangster thriller with lurid characters and visual style."
‑ Michael E. Grost, Classic Film and Television
"Despite censorship problems and interference from producer Howard Hughes, Howard Hawks' early crime-gangster is a masterpiece and a seminal work in the genre's evolution, with a truly scary performanec from Paul Muni."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"By far the most visually inventive and tonally anarchic movie that Hawks made."
‑ Richard Brody, New Yorker
"Scarface contains more cruelty than any of its gangster picture predecessors, but there's a squarer for every killing. The blows are always softened by judicial preachments and sad endings for the sinners."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"[The police chief] endorses the myth of the west while conceiving the urban gangster as a rat-like menace."
‑ Matthew Sorrento, IdentityTheory
"Atmospheric, mesmerising and darkly humourous with a sizzling script and cast. This is a true classic of its genre."
‑ Kim Newman, Empire Magazine
"Paul Muni goes way over the top as Tony Camonte, painting a picture of a gangster who knows nothing but excess, and who will stop at nothing to get his way."
‑ Brian Webster, Apollo Guide
"A grisly, exciting gangster picture."
‑ , TIME Magazine
"Its seminal importance in the early gangster movie cycle outweighed only by its still exhilarating brilliance, this Howard Hughes production was the one unflawed classic the tycoon was involved with."
‑ Paul Taylor, Time Out
"Completely relevant: Citizens complain that access to technologically more efficient guns is partly to blame for the crime wave; they fret over illegal immigrants; they worry that the 'new breed' of criminal is more uncivilized than its predecessor..."
‑ John Beifuss, Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)
"The original Scarface, loosely but boldly based on the notorious life and legend of Al Capone, didn't invent the modern American gangster film. It blew it up."
‑ Sean Axmaker,
"A brilliantly wild narrative that had a lot of Capone and the Borgias in it."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
More reviews for Scarface on Rotten Tomatoes

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