Over 50 years before Al Pacino said hello to his little friend, there was a different Scarface in town. In Howard Hawks’ Scarface: The Shame of a Nation, the Scarface in question is Tony Camonte, a street level crook who makes his way up the underworld ranks with a little help from some murder and machine guns. From the very opening scene it is clear that this is a special film, with each death scene somehow being simultaneously brutal and thoughtful, as the people both in front of and behind the camera strive to present as compelling a look into the gang wars of the time as they can.
Based in part on the life and crimes of notorious gangster Al Capone, Scarface: The Shame of a Nation is a masterclass in storytelling, and a film that is every bit as engaging and laudable now as it was in the 30’s. Released only 5 years after the first feature length “talkie”, this is a remarkable achievement of a film, and deserves to be remembered as one of the most enthralling examples of the gangster genre.
The Podfather Score: 8.5/10