Scarface, is about one of the most visually and acoustically compelling films of the early 1930’s.
Expressive in it’s aesthetics and clever in the battle of silence and sound; the film provides an exposé into that specific era of American culture and does it with the creativity of Howard Hughes, Howard Hawks and Lee Garmes.
“Scarface remains simultaneously one of the most brutal and most funny of gangster films…”
The film is brutally truthful with enough humour to soften the blow. The Valentine’s Day Massacre and Cesca’s final scene are two of the most poignant of the violent scenes; not just for the violence, but for the emotive effects and compelling imagery. The earlier cafe scene, on the other hand, is one in which should, theoretically be full of terror, but in Hawks style, the scene is full of whimsical accents and rather charming humour.
One of the most irresistible qualities of Scarface, is the contrast of sound and silence. And not a soundtrack of emotive music, partnered with sharp sounds of gunfire, but a range of urban noise and other diegetic sounds; all for a dose of cinematic reality, off-screen space and emotive effect.
It is a film notable for an array of reasons, from cinematography, to dialogue and acting, but most notable of all, is how despite decades of gangster films and of course Brian De Palma’s Scarface (1983) starring Al Pacino, this classic, is standing the test of time.
Studio: United Artists
Director: Howard Hawks
Writer: Ben Hecht
Music: Adolph Tandler and Gus Arnheim