1932: Scarface - Defining the American Gangster Film

Cinema is littered with gangsters and organized crime; stylish anti-heroes that crave wealth and power, play by their own rules and stop at nothing to get what they want. Although crime has been a topic of films since its beginnings, the rules, conventions and ideology of the gangster film as a genre didn’t emerge until the beginning of the sound era. In this video essay One Hundred Years of Cinema takes a closer look at three films that helped solidify the gangster genre: Little Caesar (1931), The Public Enemy (1931), and Howard Hawks’ Scarface (1932), all influenced by real-world events like Prohibition, the wall street crash and the rise of gangsters like Al Capone.





Genre Style & Conventions

One Hundred Years of Cinema

Gangster & Mob

Howard Hawks