Howard Hawks and Scarface
September 18, 2013•7 min
A complete retrospective of films directed by Howard Hawks is in progress at the Museum of the Moving Image, and as WNYC’s Sara Fishko tells us, from “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” to “Scarface,” Hawks gave it to you straight. Here is the next Fishko Files…
The Hawks retrospective continues at the Museum of the Moving Image through November 10th. Scarface screens this Saturday. For tickets and more information, visit The Museum of the Moving Image's website.
Jean-Luc Godard was the ultimate Howard Hawks fan. Godard has his own retrospective coming up this month at the Film Society at Lincoln Center. For more information, visit their website.
Howard Hawks' Scarface is subtitled "The Shame of the Nation." The film is preceded by text on screen warning viewers about the dangers of gangsterism. Ken Tucker went on to tell us how the subject matter caused the Hays Censorship board to add an additional scene to the end of the film.
The very end of the film was the subject of great debate by the repressive Hays office of Censorship, which pressured Howard Hawks to make sure that Tony was portrayed as a coward who was begging for his life. Which he did, he does at the end of the film. But the Hays office wanted him to go further. And Hawks refused to film an ending, a scene of Tony – a body double had to be used because Paul Muni refused to do it – being led to the gallows and hung. Even though no gangster had ever been hung from a gallows at that point ever. It was kind of a ridiculous thing. Theaters had the option to either run the movie with that ending or without it. And of course, most theaters ran it without that ending.
For more from the guests heard in this edition of Fishko Files...
Ken Tucker's book Scarface Nation: The Ultimate Gangster Movie and How it Changed America" is available here.
Jeanine Basinger's latest book, "I Do and I Don't: A History of Marriage in the Movies," is available here.
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