“Its seminal importance in the early gangster movie cycle outweighed only by its still exhilarating brilliance, this Howard Hughes production was the one unflawed classic the tycoon was involved with” - Time Out.
Howard Hawks’ fast, feisty, darkly funny gangster classic is also a subversive account of a ruthlessly ambitious punk’s pursuit of the American Dream. In charting the bloody career of boorish but street-smart hoodlum Tony Camonte (Muni, superb), Hawks and screenwriter Ben Hecht drew on the lives (and deaths) of Al Capone and other notorious figures – the Borgias included. So Tony, treacherously seducing his boss’s mistress, also harbours decidedly deeper feelings for his sister Cesca (Dvorak), who is herself after Tony’s sidekick Rinaldo (Raft). Meanwhile, Camonte’s other passion is power; he’ll risk anything to wrest it from the city’s crime lords. Taking the mobster movie to its moral and aesthetic limits, Hawks gleefully serves up virtuoso violence and carnage, sly innuendo, visual gags (‘X’ marks murders galore), and delicious verbal comedy demonstrating Camonte’s linguistic shortcomings. The mix of subtly imaginative details and fiery dramatic power makes for a masterpiece.