Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Scarface- The Original

Scarface is a very interesting film. I'm talking about the original 1932 Scarface- not the recent DePalma version, which is also interesting in its own ways. First, it was one of the few Gangster films during the classical period of the Hollywood Gangster genre which had a gangster as its protagonist. This in itself raised some minor moral battles in America, which is covered in the reading. As a result, restrictions were placed on the genre which ultimately made it more work than it was worth to make the gangster of a film the protagonist. Instead, it became a switch to the more traditional law enforcement heroes with the gangsters serving as the 'heavies'

The start of the film is in fact indicative of the time period. A title card precedes the film calling out the audience to do something about the horrors prevented in the film- to stop them. This notion of a title card prefacing a Gangster film to attempt to deter further crime or glorification of crime is very dated and is no longer used anymore. 
Who'd want to be him?!

Stylistically speaking, the film helps create or aids in the cementation of a solid gangster type/look. All the gangsters wear their 'uniforms' of slick suits with pride and power. They are also fast talkers. Immediately, we jump into the end of a conversation and somebody's subsequent assassination. This helps show the audience what to expect with the movie from the very beginning in terms of style and tone. Another key element in the film is the use of the newspaper. The very second scene of the movie is in a newspaper office where they are discussing a potential headline about gang war based on recent mob related crimes. Newspapers and even a calendar come back later as themes within the movie. It helps create an outcry to the audience in my opinion.

The ending of the film is very indicative of the time. It needs to end bleakly. The righteous must win- even though the protagonist is not on their side. It has to end in bloodshed- in utter violence. A point is even made of this by having Scarface laugh all throughout this at the beginning. It only starts to hit him once his girl gets shot. Even afterwards, his monstrosity continues to an extent. He walks downstairs in a coughing- which sounds all too similar to a monstrous laugh. Unarmed and cornered, Scarface decides to make a run for it- only to be gunned down mercilessly outside by the cops. He falls like a dog in the street, then we pan up to the words "The World is Your's". Slowly, this message then begins to fade to black as the movie ends. It serves as a message to the American people that these men do in fact end up paying for their crimes and will be held accountable for their sins. 

1 comment:

  1. CLARIFY: I'm actually a bit confused by your opening - I don't exactly understand your main thesis or idea. Obviously the post will be about Scarface, and you point out it's the 1932 version, and you also point out that it's a classical gangster film, but you don't explain what was "covered in the reading" in terms of the themes it was exploring. What themes? And are you saying that gangster Tony is not the protagonist of the film - or that it was hard to make him a traditional protagonist because of the restrictions placed on the genre? So then is that your thesis? - I don't think so, you don't really prove that with your points. It seems more like your thesis is that the film Scarface is a example of a classic gangster film from the Production Code era and that one can see the effects of the production code in this film that is filled with bad guys and violence. You don't have a clear thesis that explains that idea, though I can glean it from much of your post. But by referencing reading that you don't explain, and being so confusing in your post, you make it very impossible for someone who is not familiar with the film or the assignment to follow your writing.

    "horrors prevented in the film" - do you mean "horrors presented in the film"?

    "it helps to create an outcry to the audience in my opinion" - I don't understand how the use of the calendar pages showing passage of time helps to create an outcry to the audience. I'm not even exactly sure what you mean by that. Do you mean it's meant to make the audience react in some way? Certainly you could conclude that the calendar pages flying off while the sound of gunfire would be symbolically showing how much violence is happening because of these gangster. But you do not explain your point at all.

    "in a coughing" - you mean he is coughing? He walks down in a coughing fit?

    VALUE: I think you have some really great points in here, and you even have some specific examples - particularly explaining where the film begins and how that jumps us into the action and world right away. Your description of the ending was also very specific and drawn out. Great ending to your post!

    I thought your choice of pictures were great.

    CONCERNS: Many of your points, though, do not have specific examples to back them up or don't go in depth enough with their explanations. Some of your examples are just confusing ("It only starts to hit him when his girl gets shot." - what do you mean by that? Do you mean his girlfriend or do you mean when his sister gets shot right in front of him?). I'm also concerned about your confusing opening paragraph (as I covered above in Clarify).

    You say the use of the title preface and the idea of trying to deter further crime or glorify crime is "dated" - I think it would make more sense to explain that the title and the script changes were made due to the production code. Now we don't have the code, but we still have a rating system that tries to suggest what films are appropriate. And there are still films out there that I say would try NOT to glorify violence. But there are certainly plenty that do glorify violence (at least arguably). What I'm trying to say is while it's a great point, I think you don't give it the attention and explanation that it deserves.