Filmsite Movie Review
Scarface: The Shame of the Nation (1932)
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Plot Synopsis (continued)

Meanwhile - in the hallway, seductive and tall eighteen year-old Cesca (wearing a thin, sexy black, bare-backed dress that resembles lingerie) has been coming on to Guino: "Why are you always high-hatting me?...I suppose you need an organ-grinder to work with...Wanna dance with me?..." As the dance music starts up with Some of These Days, the Jazz-Age youngster enticingly slinks her body in front of him in a slow and suggestive, hip-thrusting and tap-dancing solo while snapping her fingers. Guino stands dispassionately watching her, resisting her flirtatious, sensuous appeal because she's his boss' kid sister. When he refuses to dance with her, she accuses him of being afraid even though he "stood there and watched." She bids him a goodbye: "Someday, you'll find out you've been missing something." She leaves with the date she had abandoned earlier.

Taking Lovo's possession Poppy, Tony dances with her and "make(s) up for lost time." But he jealously sees Cesca dancing too closely to another man. Burrowing his way over through the crowd like King Kong, an overprotective and enraged Tony punches the gentleman and drags his sister - wearing an X-backed black dress - from the nightclub without his bodyguards ("I take her home myself").

In a powerful scene in their home, filmed in dark silhouette with bright back-lighting, Tony violently rages and argues with his sister, slaps her in the face, and even tears off the bodice of her dress from the shoulder down:

Cesca: You'll be sorry for this.
Tony: Next time I catch ya in a place like that again, I'll kill you.
Cesca: You're telling me what to do? I'll do what I want, the same as you, you understand?
Tony: (scolding) You listen to me!
Cesca: I HATE YOU!
Tony: Never mind what I do. It's all right. But you're gonna stay home. Do you understand?
Cesca: I'm no baby! I can take care of myself.
Tony: Yeah, runnin' around with the fellas, huh? Lettin' 'em hold ya like that. Lettin' 'em look at you. Dressin' up like that for the fellas to see, huh? (He rips her spaghetti shoulder strap, baring her bra and slip.)
Cesca: (screaming) What I do with fellas is MY business! (He slaps her repeatedly)

When her mother descends the stairs, Cesca flees to her for protection and comfort: "He hasn't any right to. Just because I'm his sister, he can't throw me around like that." Bitter, Tony's mother empathizes with how her offspring inflicts pain: "He hurt you. He hurt everybody."

As Tony leaves his home, bullets strafe the entryway behind him. He escapes in his car, but is pursued by a speeding automobile with hired thugs shooting at him. Driving parallel to each other in a noisy car chase, Tony miraculously escapes the hit-attempt and death and the cars eventually run off the road and crash. Having survived, Tony phones from the barber's shop for assistance from Rinaldo to seek retaliation against Lovo, who is suspected of ordering the hit. Tony finally tracks Guino (a reputed lover or "tomcat") to a woman's apartment. Wisps of cigarette smoke blow across the ringing phone, resting next to two icy glasses filled with alcohol. After speaking to Tony, Guino hurriedly and dutifully leaves his frustrated sexual girlfriend/partner as she harrumphs: "This is worse than being in love with a grasshopper."

Believing that Lovo betrayed him and set him up for murder, a menacing Tony (with smoke swirling around his head) confronts his boss in his office, with a cool-headed Rinaldo rhythmically and methodically flipping a coin on the sidelines. Cringing and nervous, Johnny is surprised to see Camonte alive and pours himself a drink. At ten minutes after two, a phone call betrays Lovo's guilt - as Tony calmly begins whistling the tune that preceded Big Louis' death in the film's first scene. When Tony snuffs his cigarette in an ashtray and smashes his fist bare-handed through the glass window to Lovo's office bearing the words "JOHN LOVE, PRIVATE," [the same action signified the end of Big Louis Costillo's reign], he determinedly decides Lovo's fate. Babbling frantically, Lovo begs for his life, offers money ("all the dough you want") and his girlfriend ("Poppy - I'll let you have her") and denies crossing Tony, but to no avail. Rinaldo is commissioned to kill Lovo, as Tony silently departs from the room and approaches the outer office door. The camera remains on Tony's back as he exits while the sounds of off-screen shots signify the justified execution of the crime boss.

At Lovo's apartment, Tony awakens Poppy - another scene filmed with back-lit silhouettes. He has immediately marched there to take possession of his ex-boss's mistress, and to order her to pack and go into hiding with him:

Poppy: What's happened? (Pause) (quivering) Where's Johnny?
Tony: (sneering) Where do ya think? (His eyes trace her night-gowned body and he raises his eyebrows.) Go pack your stuff.

The icy-cold blonde half-smiles with perversely gleaming eyes. Her lip arches upward - expressive of her craving for violence and her sexual longing for him. As she packs, he gazes out the window at the blinking THE WORLD IS YOURS sign to reinforce his position at the top of the underworld. As he reminds her that she is his prize ("Hey. Come here. Look at that. Do you remember what I told ya?"), she smiles gleefully - delighted to be possessed by him.

In the next scene, the office window in the Athletic Ward has been repainted to read: "ANTONIO CAMONTE, PRIVATE." But Tony is out of town (with Poppy) when Cesca visits and speaks to Tony's second lieutenant. He sits in the boss's seat with his feet up while cutting a string of paper dolls. Still scheming and interested in Guino and wanting to provoke his interest, Cesca opens up the identical-looking string of cut-outs [symbolic of Guino's many girlfriends]:

Cesca: Why did you hang up when I called yesterday?
Guino: Too busy.
Cesca: (She takes the paper and opens it up) The one on the end is kinda cute.
Guino: She ain't bad.
Cesca: I should think you'd want something more like -
Guino: - like what?
Cesca: Me.
Guino: Cut out that sort of talk. You're only a kid.
Cesca: I told you I had grown-up ideas.
Guino: You're like Tony when you go after something, eh? What would Tony say?
Cesca: He'll be away for a month. (The screen fades to black.)

During Tony's absence in Florida, Guino and Cesca become romantically involved, and reforms and changes have occurred in City Hall - as reported by the newspaper publisher and editor in their office:

Publisher: The big fellow's on his way from Florida.
Editor: Uh, huh. Well, he'd better watch his step. This town's entirely different than when he left it. That new crowd down at the City Hall is lookin' for him. The first crack he makes they'll climb all over him.

Upon Tony's return, he visits his mother who is slaving in the kitchen and asks about Cesca's whereabouts. She tearfully tells Tony that Cesca has a place of her own at 236 Central Street - but she is distressed that her daughter has left home and lives with a man. Tony's mother laments that Cesca has become like him: "See what you do. Once I have a son, I have a daughter." He leaves - insanely jealous and possessive, and suspicious of betrayal by his best friend Guino.

In her apartment, Cesca happily plays to her own accompaniment on the piano - to an unseen, off-screen individual that she shares her place with (smoke drifting toward her from an ashtray indicates that her mate is Guino). She tells him: "I'm so happy...You do love me, don't you, Guino?...Never stop telling me, will you? I'm not like all the others, am I?" He assures her that she is not like the other women he has been with: "You're up there all by yourself, sweetheart."

At the end of the hallway in her apartment building, Tony reaches the top of the stairs as he ominously whistles his familiar pre-murder tune. Rinaldo answers the doorbell - opening the door with their apartment number - a Roman numeral X. Behind Rinaldo is a white, shadowy X-cross on the wall. Without asking for an explanation about why his coin-flipping, best friend Guino is there, Tony is aghast and stands in shock. Cesca hesitates - and then screams: "Tony, don't! Tony!" as off-screen shots ring out. Cesca lets out a horrible shriek. Guino's coin-flipping hand misses catching the coin [the object that first linked Cesca and Guino] as gun-smoke fills the frame.

Slain with his eyes rolling upwards, Guino sinks slowly in the door-frame, looking at Tony with disbelief. Devastated and hysterical, Cesca bends over Guino's unresponsive body lying in the corridor, and then turns back toward an incoherent, stunned Tony with the revelation of their recent secret marriage. She curses him for being a "murderer" and a "butcher" in the fratricidal killing:

Tony, it's my Guino. I love him. We were married yesterday, Tony...We were going to surprise you - weren't we, Guino? Oh, God. He's dead. He's dead. He loved me, really loved me. (She pushes Tony away.) Don't touch me. Don't come near me. (He staggers toward her.) Stay away from me. You're not my brother. Don't you think I know? Murderer! He kills people. He kills everybody. He kills everything. He's a butcher. That's what you are. You're a butcher. You're a butcher.

The new political and police regime dispatches a bulletin: "PICK UP TONY CAMONTE FOR THE MURDER OF GUINO RINALDO." Upon his return to his steel-fortified apartment, Tony (walking in a stupor) and Angelo are pursued by a squad of policemen. Angelo closes and locks the hideout door behind them, but is shot in the stomach through the front door. With determined loyalty even though he's dying, he shuts the steel door to the secured, upstairs apartment and staggers to answer the phone - a morally dead and broken Tony doesn't even seem to notice his secretary's mortal wound as he correctly announces the caller - Poppy. With the phone half-dangling in his hand, Tony mumbles a few words and then drops the phone:

I didn't know. I didn't know.

The finale of the film has a prolonged shoot-out sequence. The police assemble to surround the fortress, block off the street, and "smoke him out away from his guns." Through the apartment's back stairway entrance, Cesca (with tears streaking her cheeks) arrives with a gun - to seek vengeance for her husband's/lover's murder. She points the gun at Tony, but can't pull the trigger when she hears police sirens approaching and vehicles surrounding the building, cordoning off the street and laying siege. She befriends her dazed brother [does she have reciprocal incestuous feelings for him?] and reunites with him for certain, violent death (consummating their illicit relationship in violence), realizing that her fate was sealed when born as a Camonte ("you're me and I'm you"):

Cesca: Tony, they're coming, the police...They're after you. They're gonna get you, Tony.
Tony: Why didn't you shoot, Cesca, huh? Why didn't you shoot?
Cesca: I don't know. Maybe it's because you're me and I'm you. It's always been that way. (They hug.)

They try to escape down the back stairs, but their path from the hideout is blocked by police. From his gun-rack arsenal of weapons, Tony chooses a rifle for Cesca. She bravely joins him to face and repel their common enemy: "Sure, I'll load 'em. I'm not afraid. I'm like you, Tony." Exhilarated by her devotion, he laughs maniacally after showering the cops below with repeating gunfire and daring them to kill him ("Hey - look at them monkeys there! They think they're gonna have Tony Camonte, ha!"). As he pulls shut the steel-shuttered window coverings, he boasts that the two of them - resembling desperate lovers - can last indefinitely through the siege:

Look, Cesca, see. Steel. All steel. Solid steel. No one can get in here! Ha, ha, ha, ha. Hey, Cesca - you and me, ha? We show 'em. We'll lick 'em all - the North Side, the South Side. We'll lick the whole world!

But their romantic possibilities as siblings are bluntly cut short - a response of bullet-fire from the street ricochets off one of the protective steel shutters as Tony is closing it - a stray bullet strikes Cesca in the mid-section and she collapses. He assists his mortally-wounded sister to lie down [there is a shadowy black X behind the sofa]. She courageously beats off death for a few moments, but she also notices his panic and fear as he turns beserk and cowardly:

Tony: Cesca, what is it? Where?
Cesca: It doesn't hurt - really. Just put your arms around me, Tony, just for a minute...I won't be able to help you now.
Tony: Oh, you can't go away, I won't let ya, ya understand, I won't let you.
Cesca: Tony, I'm dizzy. Hold me, Tony. Don't let me get scared.
Tony: Listen, you don't understand. I'll be here all alone. You can't leave me here all alone.
Cesca: Why Tony? You're afraid. Don't be afraid, Tony.
Tony: Cesca! You're all I've got left...I'm no good without you, Cesca. I'm no good by myself. Cesca! (Loud gunfire surprises them.) Cesca! They're out there. They want to get me. They're all there. Cesca, they won't give me a chance. Please! Cesca!
Cesca: Guino wasn't afraid.
Tony: Cesca, don't go, please, Cesca! I won't let you go. You hear, I won't let you. You understand? You gotta stay here, do you hear me?
Cesca: I don't want to stay. You're afraid. Guino! Guino!
Tony: Cesca, please, come back, you hear? Come back I say!

He shrieks at her, but she is dead. Tear gas is thrown into the window as he continues to call out her name. The chemical gas mushrooms throughout the room, causing him to choke and cough. As a forlorn, alone, lost, and pitiful figure, he cries out to her: "Cesca, I can't see! Cesca, angel!" Sweating, crying, and disoriented, he is forced to leave the apartment and stumble down the stairs to the front door, where the police have already broken through. Overpowered, he turns into a sniveling coward and pleads with Guarino to spare his life:

Tony: Don't shoot. Don't shoot, Guarino. Look it, Guarino. I'm all alone. I got no gun, see. Gimme a break, Guarino.
Guarino: Break? Who'd you ever give a break to?
Tony: Look, I got nobody. I'm all alone. A little boy's gun, Angelo's gun. My steel shutters - they don't work...Gimme a break, will ya? Don't shoot. You got me covered. I can't do nothin'.

Motivated by personal hate rather than concern for the public, Guarino taunts the wimpering, impotent Tony with what he had told him months earlier in the police station:

I told you you'd show up this way. Get you in a jam without a gun and you squeal like a yellow rat. Come on, climb into this [handcuffs].

Seeing a way to escape - in the face of death after murdering his best friend and losing his sister - Tony makes a break for it, but many police guns open fire and riddle his body with hundreds of bullets. He falls into the street's filthy gutter and expires - fulfilling the Chief of Detectives' earlier prophecy of an ignominious death ("And someday you're gonna stumble and fall down in the gutter, right where the horses have been standing, right where you belong"). The camera moves up and away from his sprawled body toward the flashing electric sign that ironically promised Tony the world: "THE WORLD IS YOURS."

The Tacked-On Alternate Epilogue:

[Note: Howard Hawks refused to direct this ending in which Tony turned cowardly. Tony survived the final shootout, only to stand trial and face execution. Muni was represented by an anonymous, stand-in extra filmed from a distance as a dark, silhouetted figure.]

Tony is escorted outside by Guarino. After a black fade-out, a judge reads his final sentencing [a camera remains on the judge throughout the entire scene] - denouncing Tony as a common criminal who deserves to die and atone for his crimes, because crime doesn't pay:

You have been tried by a jury of your peers in this court and the jury has found you guilty without recommendation of murder in the first degree. It is the judgment of the court that you are guilty as found. [The judge stops reading the formal sentence.] Antonio Camonte, I want to go on record as stating that you deserve this verdict more than any criminal who has come before me for sentence. You are convicted of one crime but you're guilty of hundreds. Until now, you've escaped by corruption, perjury, and vicious coercion of witnesses. Since your arrest, they've come forward the first time and told the truth. You've commercialized murder to satisfy your personal greed for power. You've killed innocent women and children with brutal indifference. You are ruthless, immoral, and vicious. There is no place in this country for your type. [The judge resumes the formal sentence.] This court hereby sentences you on the 10th day of December 1931 in the penitentiary of this state to be hanged by the neck until you are dead. [The judge looks up.] And may God have mercy on your soul.

The gallows hanging mechanism is tested - from a low-angle beneath the trap door of the floorboards. In the vicinity of the jail cell, another statement is read before the execution: "And said Tony Camonte suffer the penalty of death by hanging. Said execution to take place at the state prison on the 10th day of December 1931." [Note: In Illinois in 1922, hanging was replaced by electric chair executions.]

Filmed from a distance and from an angle looking down from above, Tony is led to the gallows for an ignoble death. In close-up, his wobbly, stockinged feet are strapped together - next to a giant hangman's noose. From Tony's point-of-view perspective, a guard (in extreme closeup) places a black hood over his head. The signal is given to activate the hanging mechanism. The film fades to black.

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