Howard Hughes bought Bartlett Cormack’s play The Racket, which had made Edward G. Robinson a star on Broadway. Hughes made it into a film twice. This article focuses on the first film version, a 1928 silent movie, starring Thomas Meighan with Louis Wolheim as the gangster.
In 1932 I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang followed Scarface at the Strand Theater in New York while Paul Muni was then starring live on Broadway in Counsellor-at-Law. A major star is realized out of a huge year of work.
A 1932 letter to the editors of Motion Picture Magazine takes issue with the censors and Howard Hughes’ Scarface. The writer calls the film “dainty” and says the censors are “making suckers out of all of us.”