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Scarface Battles Censorship

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After watching the movie, Scarface,  I was actually struck by how censored it was. While it was in essence a classic “gangster” film, there was a legitimate attempt to point out that the actions taking place in this movie were wrong. In the beginning, where there were normally credits the viewer was greeted with these two panels: 1


It kind of reminds me of a pre- Uncle Sam “We want you!” Basically what this is trying to show is that the people have the power to make things like this not happen. It strikes at the core of Democracy in the US, especially by emphasizing in the movie that the people can make a difference. If that wasn’t enough, there was more censorship within the film itself!

It’s at about seven minutes in, where there is a random scene about the Newspapers publishing Tony Camonte’s (the main character, Scarface) dealings in the city. It shows the concerns of citizens, varying from the politician, police, journalist and even the Italians are represented. I am thinking for my next post I am going to look more into film censorship in the 1930′s, because I think it is something important to understand. Especially if it affected a movie production in such a dramatic way.

As for the movie representing the Mafia. Well it definitely did that.I can definitely see how later portrayals of the Mafia came largely from this film. First off, I am sure we all recognize this photo:

The typical Man in the Window photo, looking at this photo you know he is a shady character and you know what he is up to. For me, personally this is an image I definitely equate with the Mafia. Dealing with problems underground and through violence. Speaking of underground, the final photo I want to show is one where the new “Chief” is giving a speech about changes he will make in the gang.

This is yet another iconic Mafia shot because of the outfits, location, and general attitude of the picture. They deal with their business in back rooms, not in public places. And if anyone is curious the speech is about how he will reform the gangs so that it will run like a “business” and be more profitable for everyone involved. He is bribing everyone to listen to him through money. Typical Mafia, right? As for my personal opinion of the movie, if you have it (its instant on Netflix) and you have time I recommend watching it. Especially if you are into Mafia and organized crime films such as the Godfather.

Next post will be back to the history stuff! (Censorship!) Dr. McClurken gave me a long list of potential sources that I can sift through, so I am excited about that. I just wanted to share my thoughts on the movie before I completely lost track of them :D

  1. All of the images were screen shots that I took while watching the film.

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