Scarface: The Shame of the Nation | Teen Ink

Scarface: The Shame of the Nation

September 30, 2019
By Anonymous

 Scarface: The Shame of the Nation is a 1932 gangster film that took place pre-Hays Code and utilizes gangsters and drama to create a classic from director Howard Hawks. The movie revolves around Tony Camonte, an ambitious gangster that aspires to take over the crime on the South Side of Chicago, which currently belongs to his boss Johnny Lovo. Tony wishes to mess with Irish gangs on the North Side, and it seems that he wants the whole world to be his. While Johnny is more cautious, understanding that this might result in a gang war that could kill all involved, including himself, Tony is far more daring. In fact, Tony goes as far as to launch an attack without Johnny's permission and soon results in Tony massacring all of the Irish gangsters in various ways, allowing Tony to make a grab for even more power. While Tony seems to be making strides towards becoming the head of crime in Chicago, Johnny is worried that Tony might aspire to take his position, leading him to send out a hit on Tony. However, this quickly backfires and Tony aspires for revenge, bringing him a few steps closer to becoming the top alpha in Chicago. 
 Scarface: The Shame of the Nation proved to be a popular film that pleased audiences across the world. For starters, gangster films were so popular because gangsters were a real problem during that time and there were more technological developments that helped make gangster films come across as more exciting, like the ability to portray machine guns, screeching tires and blazing sirens. This allowed these movies to come to life and embrace real issues, seeing as an America going through Prohibition resulted in many more feuds on the streets. Many were dying on these very streets, causing many to be fearful and make gangster films all the more relatable. 
 Scarface: The Shame of the Nation has plenty of political messages. In fact, the movie tries to act as a call for the government to actually do something about all of the gang fights going on in America. The movie blames the authorities for the rise in violent crime by basically saying that gangs have been threatening the streets, kids and people’s homes, but the government isn’t doing anything about this. This is also followed up by there being several instances throughout the movie that include characters directly saying that change needs to occur in a manner that feels slightly less than subtle. 
 Scarface: The Shame of the Nation relies heavily on the symbolism and representation of the letter "x" for death. If there's an "x", it means that the character is marked for death, which helps to result in plenty of creative scenes, like a massacre occurring at a bowling alley. Furthermore, the director, Howard Hawks, uses different lighting to elucidate different moods and tones, so when serious events are happening, like deaths, more dark lighting is included to act as a representation of the negativity going on, while the light is included during happier scenes, like when there’s comedic relief. Oddly enough, there's actually a significant amount of comedic relief that takes place, even during darker moments and strangely serious scenes. For some reason this was a staple of many gangster films during the time, which may help to create a tone lacking cohesion for some. 
 While Scarface: The Shame of the Nation may not still be a fan-favorite today, it was quite a hallmark back in the day. Rotten Tomatoes gave the movie a supremely impressive 100%, which is just as outstanding as it seems, and a whopping 91% of Google users liked the movie, showing that many still enjoy the film. The movie has a political message, plenty of action that's made even more cool by the fact that it took place in the 1930s, and an interesting character in Tony that helps to represent Al Capone. It's actually quite reasonable to believe Tony represents the famous Al Capone, because there were many events that mimicked ones that occurred in Capone's life, like how the Valentine’s Day Massacre is included in the film. For all of this, the movie proves to be a true classic that is certainly worth giving a shot. 


The author's comments:

"And this is it. That's how I got the south side for you, and that's how I'm gonna get the north side for you. It's a typewriter. I'm gonna write my name all over this town with it, in big letters." - Tony Camonte


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