Showing posts with label George Raft. Show all posts
Showing posts with label George Raft. Show all posts

Friday, 11 April 2014


Based on a 1929 novel and inspired by real events, 1932’s Scarface was one of a series of pre-code gangster pictures which shocked and enthralled its viewers. Opening with a written disclaimer, damming the government for their lack of action regarding the threat that modern gangsters pose, the film nonetheless glamorises the life of crime while shaking a stick in its vague direction. It follows the ascent of young arrogant Italian immigrant Tony Camonte (Paul Muni) as he rises through the Chicago underworld by bumping off bosses and rivals who stand in his way and intimidating speakeasy proprietors into taking his booze. Aided by his right hand man, the quiet coin flicking Guino Rinaldo (George Raft), Tony reaches the heights of underworld overlord but finds that being at the top is even more dangerous than the climb to the summit.

Arriving two years before the Hays Office began imposing much stricter censorship on Hollywood; Scarface was able to get away with a lot more than many films which followed it. Inside its ninety minutes you’ll find brutal murders, gunplay and revealing costumes worn by the female characters, things which just wouldn’t be permissible from 1934 onwards. Even still, the film troubled the censors and the ending was changed to suit their tastes. Overall the movie contains a ‘crime doesn’t pay’ theme, something which you expect from the opening credits disclaimer but it’s slow in coming. For the most part, the theme appears to be ‘crime gets you everything you want’ and it’s this which the censors must have taken issue with. The glorification of the central character is also something which the Hays Office was unhappy with. This is something which film makers and censors would lock horns over for the next forty years.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Some Like It Hot

A Hollywood remake of the 1935 French movie Fanfare d'Amour, Some Like It Hot is widely regarded as amongst the funniest and most cherished films in the history of cinema. Written, Produced and Directed by one of cinema’s finest, Billy Wilder, it stars Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as destitute musicians, eking out a living in prohibition era Chicago. Having accidentally witnessed the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, the two men go on the lamb and hop on a train to Florida. In order to go unnoticed by the Mob they disguise themselves as women and join an all female band heading to Miami. Amongst the band members is Sugar (Marilyn Monroe) who both men (obviously) fall for.

I’ve wanted to see Some Like It Hot for a long time and having finally got around to it last night, I can report that I wasn’t disappointed. Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond’s script is rich, saucy and hilarious while full of the sort of bawdy double entendre that would have been impossible to get passed censors in the years before. In fact, along with the likes of Hitchcock’s Psycho and Wilder’s own The Apartment, it was just this sort of movie which saw to the decline and eventually dismemberment of the dreaded Hays/Breen Code that had constricted Hollywood since the early 1930s.