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Author Topic: Scarface (1932) vs. Scarface (1983)  (Read 824 times)
Matt
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« on: December 08, 2016, 04:04:50 PM »

This is the place to post about the original Scarface (1932) and the remake Scarface (1983).  Tell us what you think of the films as you watch them, or wait until after Week 2 to do a comparison. Which do you like better? Strengths, weaknesses, or just talk about anything you want.
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Christopher
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« Reply #1 on: December 09, 2016, 09:10:53 AM »

I watched the 1932 Scarface yesterday. I got a DVD through the library that includes an introduction by Robert Osborne from Turner Classic Movies and it had an alternate ending. Osborne talks about why that alternate ending was done. The violence is pretty bleak for 1932, and even though it seemed obvious that they were trying to do the movie with a clear moral message (the very beginning makes that clear), Osborne mentioned that the new ending was done to try to make the message more anti-gangster. But the movie still had issues with censors, so the film was restored to the way it was before and released anyhow.

I enjoyed the movie. I've only seen a little bit of the 1983 movie, and honestly I stopped watching it because I wasn't sure if I could stomach Pacino's performance. I'll try it again. I liked Paul Muni's performance in this movie. I mentioned in the other thread that it was cool to see Boris Karloff's name listed in the cast. He was just one year after his performance in Frankenstein at this point.
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Christopher
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« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2016, 05:51:41 PM »

I happened to come across the information that December 9, 1983, was the release date of Scarface. :D
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Matt
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« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2016, 09:47:12 PM »

I happened to come across the information that December 9, 1983, was the release date of Scarface. :D

And I chose tonight to watch the 1932 version tonight for the first time.  8)

I love the 1983 Scarface, so I was looking forward to the original. Things moved along so quickly in the movie industry, that when you think about it, this was quite a big story to tell only five years after sound was introduced in films. So, I can't in any way say that it's not a great film for its time. But I can't help but compare Scarface to Public Enemy, White Heat, and Angels with Dirty Faces, and I do enjoy all of those films more.

I'm actually thinking that I wasn't able to really properly enjoy this film because I couldn't stop comparing it to the Cagney gangster films, and the 1983 DePalma remake. I'll probably need to watch it one more time, and why not?

I enjoyed seeing this famous message, which we'll see again in the 1983 version:



I'll have more to say after I watch the 1983 version again, which I will probably start doing tonight.
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KC
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« Reply #4 on: December 10, 2016, 02:24:09 AM »

If you can't get them from the library, Amazon has both films to rent for $3.99 each ... or buy for $4.99! (Streaming, not on DVD.)

https://www.amazon.com/s/?url=search-alias%3Damazontv&field-keywords=Scarface
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Christopher
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« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2016, 07:45:40 AM »

So, I can't in any way say that it's not a great film for its time. But I can't help but compare Scarface to Public Enemy, White Heat, and Angels with Dirty Faces, and I do enjoy all of those films more.
I haven't seen any of those other movies! I guess I really haven't seen a lot of classic gangster movies.
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Matt
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« Reply #6 on: December 10, 2016, 09:29:55 AM »

I haven't seen any of those other movies! I guess I really haven't seen a lot of classic gangster movies.

Wow, we have to get some Cagney films going in our next theme. As you know, he was Clint's favorite actor, and he really was great!
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Matt
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« Reply #7 on: December 11, 2016, 09:48:07 PM »

This has been a Scarface weekend for me. I watched the original twice now, and sandwiched the DePalma version between.  I did need the 2nd viewing of Scarface 1932 because I watched with subtitles the first time, and sometimes that takes away from me noticing some of the acting, expressions, and set. I enjoyed it more the second time.

Here's how the 1932 version starts:







I recognized one of those true scenes -- the St. Valentine's Day Massacre:




Both films tell the gangster rise and fall story in a way that was relevant to the time:  Tony Camonte's crime family prospers with the selling of bootleg beer, and Tony Montana's with transporting/selling cocaine. The stories are similar -- Tony starts out a small-time hood working for the boss, and has enough ambition to eventually try to run his boss's organization. The boss, knowing Tony had become a liability, puts a contract out on him. Tony survives it, realizes it was his boss who issued the contract, and has the boss killed, taking over his empire. In both films, Tony has his Achilles's heel, his sister. There's also the same story of wanting his ex-boss's girlfriend for himself, and he manages to do that in both films. But, as Tony puts it so well in the 1983 version "Is this all there is?" What happens when you get everything you ever wanted, and you're still unhappy?

Neither Tony is mentally stable by the end of either picture.  The last scene of the 1932 version has Tony facing the police after being shot out of his steel-enclosed fortress, he begs for his life.

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Cop:  I told you you'd show up this way. Get you in a jam without a gun, and you'd squeal like a yellow rat."



When Tony tries one last ditch effort to run, he's shot down by the cops.

Comparing these two films, that's the biggest difference in my view:  The 1932 Scarface has to show that the gangster is really "yellow". It reminds me of the end of Angels with Dirty Faces where James Cagney acts the same way, as he's being lead to execution. But in Angels with Dirty Faces, the audience never knows if he really was afraid, or if he did it for the children. That's one of the greatest strengths of that incredible film. Here, there's no doubt:  Tony went down squealing like a rat.

Jumping ahead nearly 50 years, the 1983 version opens with a crawl:

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In May 1980, Fidel Castro opened the harbor at Mariel, Cuba, with the apparent intention of letting some of his people join their relatives in the United States. Within seventy-two hours, 3,000 U.S. boats were headed for Cuba. It soon became evident that Castro was forcing the boat owners to carry back with them not only their relatives, but the dregs of his jails. Of the 125,000 refugees that landed in Florida, an estimated 25,000 had criminal records.

So, the set up is extremely timely, again. There's so much more to say, but I've been sick as a dog and I think this is enough for one post. :)
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KC
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2016, 09:56:08 PM »

I watched the original Scarface last night. I have a vague memory of having seen it before, many years ago, probably at one of the repertory theaters that used to flourish in New York. It certainly is a very stark and powerful piece. There are some great devices, for instance the whistling theme (from the sextet in Lucia di Lammermoor) that signals Tony is about to kill someone. The first time it's heard is also our introduction to Tony, but he's never seen except in silhouette in that scene, as he commits the first murder in the movie. So he gets not one but two great "entrances," first as a lethal, sinisterly whistling shadow, then second as a scarred mug emerging in closeup from beneath a barber's towel.

Tony is a guy with only one idea in his head and only one answer to every question: kill. Well, except for the brief interludes when we see him putting the moves on his boss's girlfriend, whom he eventually wins over—partly, I gather, because she is turned on by violence and Tony offers a more direct look at that than his boss, who prefers to delegate.

I found out this on Wikipedia about the alternate ending:

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The first version of the film (Version A) was completed on September 8, 1931, but censors would not allow its release because of concerns that it glorified the gangster lifestyle and showed too much violence. Several scenes had to be edited, the subtitle "The Shame of the Nation" as well as a text introduction had to be added, and the ending had to be modified.

The alternate ending (Version B) differs from the original ending in the manner that Tony is caught and in which he dies. Unlike the original ending in which Tony escapes the police and dies after getting shot several times, the alternate ending starts with Tony reluctantly handing himself over to the police. After the encounter, Tony's face is not shown again. A scene follows in which a judge is addressing Tony during sentencing. The next scene is the finale, in which Tony (seen from a bird's eye view) is brought to the gallows, where he is finally put to an end by being hanged.

However, Version B still did not pass the New York censors, so Howard Hughes disowned it and finally in 1932 released Version A—with the added text introduction—in states that lacked strict censors (Hughes also attempted to take the New York censors to court).

Matt, I wrote the above before I saw your last post ... just want to add that the text introduction you posted is one of the things the censors demanded.
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Matt
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« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2016, 02:06:39 PM »



Matt, I wrote the above before I saw your last post ... just want to add that the text introduction you posted is one of the things the censors demanded.

Interesting. I was going to say that the text intro is very close to the dialogue of one of the scenes, so it seemed to almost be overkill. Interesting that even though it's in the dialogue, they were forced to add more to pass the censors.

Here's dialogue from that scene, where concerned citizens meet with their newspaper's publisher Mr. Garston:

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MAN:  Our organizations are opposed to your policies, Mr. Garston. Your paper could be an influence against the gangster. Yet you keep right on, playing up his activities as front page news. Murder, gang wars, killing, that's all we read about. You're glorifying the gangster by giving him all this publicity.

GARSTON:  You're trying to tell me you can get rid of the gangster by ignoring him. By keeping him off the front page. That's ridiculous. You're playing right into his hands. Show him up! Run him out of the country! That'll keep them off the front page!

WOMAN:  In the meantime, you expect our children to read of nothing but outrage and murder?

GARSTON:  That's better than their being slaughtered. The city is full of machine guns. Gang war in the streets. Kids aren't even safe to go to school. You want that to go on?

MAN 2:  Certainly not. But what can private citizens do? Even our police force can't stop it.

GARSTON:  Don't blame the police! They can't stop machine guns from being run back and forth across state lines. They can't enforce laws that don't exist!

MAN:  Then it's up to the federal government to do something about it.

GARSTON:  You're the government! All of you! Instead of trying to hide the facts, you get busy and see that laws are passed that will do some good!

MAN 2:  For instance?

GARSTON:  Pass a federal law that puts a gun in the same class as drugs and white slavery. Put teeth in the deportation act. These gangsters don't belong in this country. Half of them aren't even citizens.

MAN 3:  That's true. They bring nothing but disgrace to my people.

GARSTON:  All right. I'll tell you what to do. Make laws and see that they're obeyed. If we have to have martial law to do it. The governor of New Mexico declared Martial Law to stop a bullfight. The governor of Oklahoma to regulate Oil Production. Surely gang rule and wholesale law defiance are more of a menace to the nation than the regulation of oil or a bullfight. The army will help. So will the American Legion. They offered their services over two years ago and nobody ever called on them. Let's get wise to ourselves. We're fighting organized murder!
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Matt
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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2016, 05:50:42 PM »

PS, doesn't it sound like Garston wants to make America great again?  ;D
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Matt
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« Reply #11 on: December 12, 2016, 06:18:37 PM »

One of the little touches that crossed between the films was that Tony Camonte's "gaudy" taste was handed down to Tony Montana.

In the 1932 film, Tony asks Poppy what she thinks of his place, and she replies "Kinda gaudy, isn't it?  And he mistakes that for a compliment, and beams, showing her around.

The similar scene in Scarface 1983 is when Tony Montana picks up the boss's lady in this:



"In that?" she deadpans.

Quote
Whatchoo talkin' about? It's a Cadillac!

 ;D

Showing my age here, I'll admit to seeing this in the theater the year I graduated High School. I'd never seen Michelle Pfeiffer before, and I remember thinking she was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen, and that she'd be a big star. That's funny to me now, when I watch this. Michelle Pfeiffer, of course, is one of cinema's most beautiful women. But, I want to say we didn't have a lot to drool over between Farrah and Scarface. I never forgot her, and when she got big shortly after this, I wasn't surprised.

I also remember thinking the shower scene was REALLY brutal. It doesn't bother me now as much as it did then, on the big screen, before I'd built up some immunity to movie violence. But, it's still a very powerful scene.

I guess Amadeus fans would recognize Salieri (F. Murray Abraham) here as Omar Suarez.

What does everyone think of Pacino's performance? I know he's been criticized for over-acting, but now that I've seen the original Scarface, I feel like he wanted to bring a bit of that personality to his Tony, and it was a bit over-the-top. But, that also comes with being a Cuban gangster or Italian mobster... they're typically not known to be subdued types.
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KC
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« Reply #12 on: December 13, 2016, 07:59:11 AM »

PS, doesn't it sound like Garston wants to make America great again?  ;D

Except for the gun control part, yeah. I was actually thinking that when I heard that bit.

It's possible that that particular scene was also added at the censors' behest.
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Matt
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« Reply #13 on: December 13, 2016, 08:58:10 AM »


It's possible that that particular scene was also added at the censors' behest.

And that, too, is a good point.

I found these reunion images, this one from 2003 (20 year anniversary) on IMDb -- the ladies look better than ever.



And Tony and Manny in 2011:

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Matt
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« Reply #14 on: December 23, 2016, 11:45:41 AM »

Has anyone watched the 1983 version yet? Care to comment?
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KC
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« Reply #15 on: December 23, 2016, 12:00:31 PM »

I enjoyed the original,  but I can't bring myself to watch three hours of Al Pacino in the remake. Sorry.
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Matt
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« Reply #16 on: December 23, 2016, 01:44:44 PM »

Man, I love Pacino's Tony Montana. I think he's great in this role. Does anyone else have anything to say about the 1983 version?
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Christopher
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« Reply #17 on: December 23, 2016, 05:53:14 PM »

I haven't had a chance to rent the 1983 version yet. Maybe next week I'll get to that.
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The Schofield Kid
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« Reply #18 on: December 26, 2016, 03:03:20 PM »

Scarface isn't as good as The Public Enemy or Little Caesar but it is a good gangster film for its time.

Paul Muni plays the lead well. I like how he would become psychotic at the sight of a man with his sister. Even his friends meets his demise being caught in the same room as her.

Ann Dvorak as Cesca spooked me a couple of times with her eyes. I didn't buy her change at the end when she's about to shoot her brother and after a hug, she's forgotten what he's done and starts shooting at the cops with him!!

Overall a good film. 3/5

I've seen the remake once years ago and I'm just wanting ti find the time to watch it again. I need to watch a film in one go. I can't watch a bit now and bit later.
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« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2017, 09:46:58 PM »

I started the 1932 version, but kept falling asleep. I'm waiting until the kids go back to school so I can have better streaming during the day. I haven't managed to get past the first 10 minutes.

I am having better success with the 1983 version, as I'm about 40 minutes into it. I'm not sure I can take nearly 3 hours of it, though.

The Miami location is interesting to me. I lived there for two years as a little kid, straight off a small farm in Michigan. It is such a mix of ordinary and extraordinary, rich and poor, safe and dangerous. We lived in an ordinary-looking neighborhood occupied by Cubans who came to Miami at the time as that portrayed in the film. They were all doctors, lawyers and other professionals who lived in ordinary houses that were gorgeous inside. Then there was our totally ordinary house, and that of the shrimp fisherman two doors down. Everyone's back yard was fenced in, but the front yards were open, except for one house with an automatic gate set in an 8 foot fence that surrounded the entire property. The occupant drove a black Mercedes with very dark tinted windows and never associated with any of the neighbors. They were somewhat higher up the ladder in the drug business. They used to film Miami Vice just a few blocks from our house. If they had gone a few streets the other way, they could have filmed it without staging or having to pay actors. Once we woke up in the middle of the night because a helicopter kept circling our neighborhood. It turned out that a fire had started somewhere in the back of the nightclub that was located next door to our local grocery store. It was so intense that the cans in the grocery store exploded and you could hear them from our house a mile away.

Back to the movie, I have a hard time having much interest in someone who's ambition is to get to the top of his "profession" by whatever means possible. It just doesn't appeal to me. I'll try to get some more watched. This definitely isn't one of those films that will get me started on a movie watching binge.
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