Scarface

It was the worst of times, it was the best of films: Scarface was to be the gangster film to end all gangsters, but instead it produced a genre, and perhaps a few mobsters, inspired by Howard Hawks's fun-lovin' criminals riding the crest of a Depression-ravaged nation's misery. Of course, they all meet their Maker, but killing them is like Buñuel's “one less fly”-it only makes room for more. That's the real energy behind Hawks's rat-a-tat-taut direction that weaves visual tics (like the ubiquitous image of the X) and humor into the tragic trajectory of Tony Camonte (Paul Muni), the original Italian Stallion doomed by his charged love for his own sister (Ann Dvorak). The film gave Muni his first big role and introduced George “Little Boy” Raft. Obviously, Hawks followed the gangster's credo: “Do it first . . . and keep on doin' it.”

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