Scarface contains more cruelty than any of its gangster picture predecessors, but there’s a squarer for every killing. The blows are always softened by judicial preachments and sad endings for the sinners.
There is none of the Public Enemy’s tracing the mug from boyhood to blame the environment for the cause this time. Paul Muni is a bad one in the first spin of the spindle, murdering a gent while he (Muni) is still just an introductory shadow on the wall. He whistles an operatic aria before shooting his cannon, which signalizes when he’s going to kill somebody from then on.
Plot traces the rise of Scarface from the position of bodyguard for an early district beer baron to the booze chief of the whole city. Along the way he overthrows his employer and later has him slain. He even cops the boss’ girl. She’s a wicked blonde with a love for gunmen and gunfire, and she of all the gang is left unpunished at the finish.
George Raft gets most of the sympathy for his Rinaldo. He talks little and habitually tosses a coin while doing most of his pal’s private gat work. Karen Morley has to fight an apparently natural air of refinement to get into the moll atmosphere, but she makes her part sit up and talk. Ann Dvorak is okay as Scarface’s kid sister.