- Scarface (1983 film)
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Brian De Palma Produced by Martin Bregman Written by Oliver Stone Starring Al Pacino
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio
F. Murray Abraham
Music by Giorgio Moroder Cinematography John A. Alonzo Editing by Gerald B. Greenberg
Studio Chapapa~ Distributed by Universal Pictures Release date(s) December 9, 1983 Running time 170 minutes Country United States Language English Budget $25,000,000 Box office $65,884,703
Scarface is a 1983 American epic crime drama movie directed by Brian De Palma, written by Oliver Stone, produced by Martin Bregman and starring Al Pacino as Tony Montana. A contemporary remake of the original 1932 film of the same name, the film tells the story of Tony Montana, a Cuban refugee who comes to Miami in 1980 as a result of the Mariel Boatlift, and becomes a drug cartel kingpin during the cocaine boom of the 1980s. The movie chronicles his rise to the top of Miami's cocaine empire. The film is dedicated to Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht, the director and principal screenwriter of the original 1932 film, respectively.
The initial critical response to Scarface was mixed, with the film receiving criticism for its violence and graphic language. The film was widely criticized by the Cuban community in Miami, who objected to various aspects of the film, and the fact Cubans in it were compared with criminals and drug traffickers. The film has since gathered a cult following and has become an important cultural icon (particularly in the hip hop community), inspiring posters, clothing, and many other references. The film's grainy black and white poster is a popular decoration and is still in production; as a result of its popularity it has been parodied many times.
In 1980, Tony Montana (Al Pacino), a Cuban refugee, arrives in Miami, Florida during the Mariel boatlift. He and his best friend, Manny Ribera (Steven Bauer), along with friends/associates Angel (Pepe Serna) and Chi-Chi (Ángel Salazar) are sent to a refugee camp, but Manny makes a deal with wealthy drug dealer Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia) to obtain green cards in return for killing a former Cuban government official. Following the assassination and their release, they agree to carry out a job for Frank's henchman Omar Suarez (F. Murray Abraham), to buy cocaine from Colombian dealers. The deal quickly goes bad, with the Columbians dismembering Angel with a chainsaw. Before they can do the same to Tony, Manny and Chi-Chi storm the apartment and kill the Colombians. Suspecting a set-up and distrusting Omar, Tony and Manny take the money and cocaine to Frank personally. Frank likes their style and hires Tony and Manny to work for him. This is when Tony first meets and develops a romantic interest in Frank's girlfriend, Elvira Hancock (Michelle Pfeiffer).
Months later, Tony visits his mother, Georgina (Míriam Colón), and younger sister, Gina (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), of whom he is fiercely protective. Gina is excited to see him again, but his mother is disgusted by his life of crime and throws him out. Manny, who is waiting in the car, comments about Gina's beauty, but Tony angrily warns him to steer clear.
Frank sends Tony and Omar to Bolivia to make a transaction with cocaine kingpin Alejandro Sosa (Paul Shenar). The tension between Tony and Omar peaks when Tony begins to make unauthorized deals on Franks' behalf. Omar agrees to head back home to talk with Frank personally, while Tony is asked to stay behind with Sosa. Shortly afterwards, Sosa discloses to Tony that Omar is a police informant, and has Tony witness Omar being pushed and hung from a helicopter. Tony states that he never liked or trusted Omar, but vouches for Frank. Sosa and Tony part ways with a business understanding, but Sosa warns Tony never to betray him. Upon returning to Miami, Frank is infuriated with Omar's demise and Tony's unauthorized deals, which cause the end of their business relationship. Tony establishes his own operations and openly pursues Elvira more aggressively, asking her to marry him.
At a local nightclub, Tony is shaken down by corrupt Miami detective Mel Bernstein (Harris Yulin), who proposes to "tax" Tony on his transactions in return for police protection and information. Tony sees Elvira, and sits with her to discuss his proposal, but Frank arrives and angrily demands Tony leave. But Tony insults Frank instead, causing Frank to leave with Elvira. Tony then sees Gina dancing with a drug dealer, and follows them to a restroom stall, where Gina is snorting cocaine. Tony throws the man out of the bathroom and slaps Gina after she angrily confronts him. Manny, sympathizing with Gina, takes her home. Gina reveals her attraction to Manny, but he wards her off, fearful of Tony's wrath should he catch them together. Back at the club, Tony is attacked and wounded by two gunmen but manages to escape, killing both of them in the process. Suspecting Frank sent Bernstein and the hitmen, Tony and Manny confront Frank at his office, finding him with Bernstein. A pre-arranged phone call at 3:00 AM explaining the hit failed sets up Frank, who then admits his involvement. Frank begs for his life before Manny shoots him dead on Tony's order. Tony then shoots and kills Bernstein. Tony, having consolidated power, takes over Frank's empire, marries Elvira, and becomes incredibly wealthy with Sosa as his supplier.
Over time, cracks in Tony's operation begin to form. Tony and Elvira become addicted to cocaine and drift apart, while Tony's increasing paranoia begins to take a toll on his friendship with Manny, who is unhappy with his role as "junior partner", entrusted only with security. Tony is eventually charged with money laundering and tax evasion after police stage a sting operation. Tony is arrested and makes bail, but his lawyer explains there will be a huge fine and up to three years in jail. Sosa flies Tony to Columbia, and offers him a way out. In exchange for the use of Sosa's government connections to keep him out of jail, Tony must fly to New York City with Sosa's henchman Alberto (Mark Margolis) to help assassinate a Bolivian journalist intent on exposing Sosa during a speech to the United Nations. During dinner at a fancy restuarant with a depressed and drunken Tony and a stoned Elvira, an already unhappy Manny is asked to stay behind and "run things" while Tony goes to New York. Tony then accuses Elvira of being a "junkie" whom he could never have children with, which results in a physical altercation and Elvira announcing that she is leaving Tony.
Tony arrives in NYC with Chi Chi, Ernie, and Alberto. They stake out the journalist's apartment and Alberto wires the man's car with a remote bomb. The next morning, upon seeing the journalist accompanied in the car by his family, Tony tries to call off the operation, horrified by the idea of killing the journalist's wife and children. Alberto states that Sosa's explicit instructions are to tail the journalist and blow up his car in front of the United Nations building, and refuses to call off the hit. Before Alberto can detonate the bomb, Tony shoots him in the head. Furious, Sosa calls Tony later that evening, and after a heated exchange, Sosa reminds Tony of their first conversation.
Tony then sets out to find Gina, who has been missing since he left for New York. Tony's mother tells him of an address in Coconut Grove she had followed Gina to one night. Tony arrives to a mansion at that address, and there finds Manny and Gina together. He kills Manny in a fit of rage, only for Gina to tell him the two had just married. Tony and his men take an extremely upset Gina back to Tony's mansion.
As Tony sits snorting a large pile of cocaine in his office, Sosa's men surround the mansion, heavily armed and quietly killing Tony's guards along the way (including Ernie). At this point, a heavily-drugged Gina enters Tony's office and accuses Tony of wanting her for himself, before shooting him in the leg. One of Sosa's gunmen bursts into the room and kills Gina. Tony kills the gunman and upon seeing Gina's corpse, falls into heavy rumination. Chi Chi is then killed when Tony fails to open the door to his pleas. Tony finally loses control and in a cocaine-fueled fury, he makes his last stand, using an M16 equipped with an under-barrel M203 grenade launcher, opening fire and killing dozens of Sosa's men. Tony takes several hits but remains standing, until he is fatally shot in the back by Sosa's personal assassin. Tony's body falls from the staircase into the fountain at the bottom, in front of the statue reading "The World is Yours."
- Al Pacino as Tony Montana
- Steven Bauer as Manny Ribera (Credits list as "Manny Ray")
- Michelle Pfeiffer as Elvira Hancock
- Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Gina Montana
- Robert Loggia as Frank Lopez
- F. Murray Abraham as Omar Suárez
- Harris Yulin as Mel Bernstein
- Paul Shenar as Alejandro Sosa
- Ángel Salazar as Chi Chi
- Michael P. Moran as Nick "The Pig"
- Pepe Serna as Angel Fernandez
- Míriam Colón as Georgina Montana
- Al Israel as Hector "The Toad"
- Michael Alldredge as George Sheffield
- Mark Margolis as Alberto "The Shadow"
- Geno Silva as "The Skull"
Scarface premiered on December 1, 1983 in New York City where it was initially greeted with mixed reaction. The film's two stars, Al Pacino and Steven Bauer, were joined in attendance by Burt and Diane Lane, Melanie Griffith, Raquel Welch, Joan Collins; her then-boyfriend Peter Holm and Eddie Murphy among others. According to AMC's "DVD TV: Much More Movie" airing, Cher loved it, Lucille Ball, who came with her family, hated it because of the graphic violence and language, and Dustin Hoffman was said to have fallen asleep. Writers Kurt Vonnegut and John Irving were among those who allegedly walked out in disgust after the notorious "chainsaw" scene. At the middle of the film, Martin Scorsese turned to Steven Bauer and told him, "You guys are great – but be prepared, because they're going to hate it in Hollywood ... because it's about them". Scarface, upon its first release, drew controversy regarding the violence and graphic language in the film, and received many negative reviews from movie critics. Despite this, the film grossed $65 million worldwide, and has since gathered a large following. On the two-disc Special Edition, the film's producer, Martin Bregman, said that the film was well received by only one notable critic, Vincent Canby of The New York Times. However, Roger Ebert rated it four stars out of four in his 1983 review and he later added it to his "Great Movies" list. Over the years, reviews for the film have changed from negative to favorably positive. Rotten tomatoes holds an average of 88% with a consensus of "Director Brian De Palma and star Al Pacino take it to the limit in this stylized, ultra-violent and eminently quotable gangster epic that walks a thin white line between moral drama and celebratory excess" Despite the film getting mixed to negative reviews upon its release, Scarface managed to gain more favorable positive reviews after its release in 1983.
Scarface was given an X rating three times (original, second, and third cuts) for extreme violence, frequent strong language and hard drug usage. Director Brian De Palma pulled in a panel of experts, including real narcotics officers, who stated that the film was an accurate portrayal of the real-life drug underworld and should be widely seen. This convinced the 20 members of the ratings board to give the third cut an "R" rating by a vote of 18 to 2. De Palma later asked the studio if he could release the original director's cut, but was told that he could not. However, since the studio executives did not know the differences among the three submitted cuts, De Palma released the director's cut to theaters anyway with an unapproved "R".
Scarface was released on December 9, 1983, in 997 theaters, grossing USD $4.6 million in its opening weekend. The film went on to make $45.4 million in North America and $20.5 million internationally for a worldwide total of $65.9 million (over $135 million, when adjusted for inflation, as of 2010).
Roger Ebert wrote "DePalma and his writer, Oliver Stone, have created a gallery of specific individuals, and one of the fascinations of the movie is that we aren't watching crime-movie clichés, we're watching people who are criminals". He later added it to his "Great Movies" list. Vincent Canby also praised the film in his review for the New York Times: "[T]he dominant mood of the film is...bleak and futile: What goes up must always come down. When it comes down in Scarface, the crash is as terrifying as it is vivid and arresting".
Leonard Maltin was among those critics who held a negative opinion towards Scarface. He gave the film 1 ½ stars out of four, stating that "...[Scarface] wallows in excess and unpleasantness for nearly three hours, and offers no new insights except that crime doesn't pay. At least the 1932 movie moved". In later editions of his annual movie guide, Maltin included an addendum to his review stating his surprise with the film's newfound popularity as a cult-classic.
In his review for Newsweek, David Ansen wrote, "If Scarface makes you shudder, it's from what you think you see and from the accumulated tension of this feral landscape. It's a grand, shallow, decadent entertainment, which like all good Hollywood gangster movies delivers the punch and counterpunch of glamour and disgust". Jay Scott, in his review for the Globe and Mail, writes, "For a while, Al Pacino is hypnotic as Montana. But the effort expended on the flawless Cuban accent and the attempts to flesh out a character cut from inch-thick cardboard are hopeless". In his review for the Washington Post, Gary Arnold wrote, "A movie that appeared intent on revealing an alarmingly contemporary criminal subculture gradually reverts to underworld cliche, covering its derivative tracks with outrageous decor and an apocalyptic, production number finale, ingeniously choreographed to leave the antihero floating face down in a literal bloodbath".
Pacino earned a nomination for Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama and Steven Bauer was nominated for Best Supporting Actor as well. However, DePalma was nominated for, but did not win, a Razzie Award for Worst Director.
In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "Ten Top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Scarface was acknowledged as the tenth best in the gangster film genre. The line "Say hello to my little friend!" (spoken by Montana of his M16A2's M203-grenade-launcher) took 61st place on AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes list. Entertainment Weekly ranked the film #8 on their list of "The Top 50 Cult Films", and Empire Magazine placed it among the top 500 films of all time. In 2010, VH1 rated the movie at number 5 in its list of 100 greatest movies of all time.
Scarface was initially released by MCA Home Video on VHS and Beta in the summer of 1984 – a two-tape set in 1.33:1 pan and scan ratio – and quickly became a bestseller, preluding its cult status. A 2.35:1 Widescreen VHS would follow years later in 1998 to coincide with the special edition DVD release. The last VHS release was in 2003 to counterpart the 20th anniversary edition DVD.
The TV version of Scarface premiered on ABC on October 25, 1987. 32 minutes were edited out, and much of the dialog, including the constant use of the word "fuck", which was muted after the beginning of f-. In addition, aside from being heavily cut for content and time, the following scenes were added in order to make up for anything that was cut:
- An extra Freedom Town scene, in which Tony is in a phone booth trying to call a young girl (presumably Gina), and then watches television with Manny and Chi Chi.
- At the Babylon Club, before Frank points to Tony El Gordo, he points to him Louis and Miguel Echevierra.
- While visiting his mother's house, Tony presents to her a gift. He then says "So here we are, the Three Musketeers" as he opens the champagne bottle, and makes a toast to America.
- A scene that shows Sosa talking to his fiancee, Gabriella Martini, on a white horse.
- A scene where Tony meets his lawyer for the first time.
- A scene in New York City where Tony is approached by police while planting a car-bomb, and pretends to be looking for his lost dog.
Some of these scenes appear as extras on DVD, but in a rough-cut fashion, as opposed to the versions that were seen on television.
Scarface has been released on DVD several times in the United States.
The first release was by Universal Studios Home Entertainment on the film's 15th anniversary in 1998 under the studio's "Collector's Edition" line. The DVD featured a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, a "Making of" documentary, outtakes, production notes and cast and crew biographies. This release was not successful, and many fans and reviewers complained about its unwatchable video transfer and muddled sound, describing it as "one of the worst big studio releases out there".
This DVD quickly went out of print, subsequently fetching outrageous prices on secondhand sites such as eBay. In 2003, Universal released a remastered two disc "Anniversary Edition" to coincide with the film's 20th anniversary re-release, featuring two documentaries — one re-edited from the last release to include new interviews with Steven Bauer (Manny Ray) and another produced by Def Jam Recordings featuring interviews with various rappers on the film's cult success in the hip-hop world and other extras ported over from the previous DVD. New to this edition was a 2.35:1 Anamorphic widescreen transfer and 5.1 surround sound in both Dolby Digital and DTS. An alternate, 1.33:1 pan and scan version of the DVD was also made available.
The limited, 20th anniversary theatrical re-release in 2003 also boasted a remastered soundtrack with enhanced sound effects and music but the DVD's 5.1 tracks were mixed from the film's original four-track stereo audio, resulting in noticeably limited frequency and surround effects. A limited edition box set was also released featuring a gold money clip embossed with the "Tony Montana" monogram, production stills, lobby cards, and a DVD of the original Scarface. In 2005, Universal released a single disc 'movie only' version of the Anniversary Edition with the deleted scenes as the sole bonus feature.
In the fall of 2006, Universal released the movie in a two-disc "Platinum Edition" featuring the remastered audio from the theatrical re-release in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround. Most of the extras (with the exception of the Def Jam documentary, production notes, and cast and crew biographies) from the Anniversary Edition were also included. New features to this edition were two featurettes relating to the new video game and the criminal and cultural world of Miami in the 1980s, and a "Scarface Scorecard", which kept track of the number of bullets fired and "F-bombs" throughout the film.
Universal Studios released Scarface on Blu-ray on September 6, 2011 in a two-disc, limited edition, steelbox package. The set contains a remastered, 1080p widescreen transfer of the film in 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio surround sound, as well as a digital copy. Disc two is a DVD of the 1932 Scarface, featuring a TMC-produced introduction by Robert Osborne and an alternate ending. Bonus features for the 1983 Scarface are ported over from prior editions, including the deleted scenes, The Making of Scarface documentary, the Scarface: The Video Game featurette, and a new retrospective documentary: The Scarface Phenomenon. The Blu-ray also features BD-Live, Pocket-Blu app access, and "U-control"; featuring the "Scarface Scoreboard" from the 2006 Platinum Edition DVD, and picture-in-picture cast and crew interviews along with celebrity fan retrospectives, outtakes, and scene comparisons between the 1932 and 1983 versions, and the 1987 television edit.
A special gift set, limited to 1,000 copies, features the Blu-ray set housed in a cigar humidor, designed by world-renowned humidor craftsman Daniel Marshall. The humidor box set retails for an MSRP of $999.99.
Universal also launched a "National Fan Art Contest" via Facebook. The top 25 submissions selected by Universal were entered in a poll where fans voted on their 10 favorite works to be featured as art cards in the Blu-ray set. The Grand-Prize winner had their artwork featured on a billboard in a major US city in order to promote the release. To celebrate the release of Scarface on Blu- ray, Universal Studios and Fathom Events have teamed up to make a Scarface Special Event. This event includes Scarface coming back to selected theaters nation wide for one night only on Wednesday, August 31, 2011. The event will be at 7:30. Fans that go to the showing will also see a twenty minute documentary on how the film impacted the world today. [NOTE: NEEDS UPDATING, AUGUST 31 HAS PASSED)
When released in Spain, the film was titled El Precio del Poder (The Price of Power). The US and Latin American editions of the DVD feature a Spanish language track, but give the title as Caracortada (Spanish for "Cutface"; a literal translation of "Scarface" into Spanish is "Cara de cicatriz"). Hector `The Toad` calls Tony Montana `Cara de cicatriz` whilst he is being chained in the shower after Angel has been killed.
The music in Scarface was produced by Academy Award-winning Italian record producer Giorgio Moroder. Reflecting Moroder's style, the soundtrack consists mostly of synthesized new wave, electronic music.
The electronic band Unkle sampled the scene in which Tony meets with Frank at the club and the infamous restaurant scene on their mix album Edit Music for a Film: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Reconstruction, as well as the music from the DVD menu.
The Lonely Island released the song "Jack Sparrow" in 2011, which features ballad singer Michael Bolton singing about Tony Montana. The Lonely Island's song "Trouble On Dookie Island" during the intro, Al Pacino as "Scarface" can be heard saying "all I have in this world is my balls and my word, and I don't break 'em for no one".
American rapper Future released the song "Tony Montana" in 2011, featuring raps inspired by Al Pacino's character. The song also features a verse from the popular Canadian rapper, Drake.
The Rap group Geto Boys, included a member named "Scarface" and used various samplings from the movie, in their album "Geto Boys". Under the track "Scarface", the sampling mixed with beats uses the phrases "All I have in this world, is balls and my word", "I buried the cockroaches" and the ever famous "Say hello to my little friend".
A licensed video game, Scarface: The World Is Yours, was released in September and October 2006, followed by an update in June 2007. It was developed by Radical Entertainment and published by Vivendi Universal Games. The game is a quasi-sequel based on the premise that Tony survived the raid on his mansion at the end of the film - however, he lost his criminal empire, and the player's goal is to rebuild it. Wii, PS2, Xbox, and PC versions have been released.
Radical and Vivendi also released a second licensed video game, Scarface: Money, Power, Respect, in October 2006. The game is much like Scarface: The World is Yours, but deals more with the controlling of drugs and managing of the Montana cocaine empire and turf, whereas Money, Power, Respect is mostly focused on getting rid of gangs, gaining respect and overall reconstruction of the empire. To date, only a PSP version of this game has been released.
The hit game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City also has some homages to Scarface, such as an area with the famous bloody bathroom in an empty apartment, along with a chainsaw that can be used as a weapon. The Malibu Club is also very similar to the Babylon Club. Other similarities include a drugs deal that goes wrong, a mission to kill a cocaine-dealing boss similar to Tony and Manny's killing of Frank, and a mansion featuring an office and hall very similar to those of Tony's mansion in the movie. Furthermore, the protagonist Tommy Vercetti is heavily based upon Tony Montana. The final mission in which Tommy must fend off dozens of armed men as they storm the mansion parallels the bloodbath ending in the film.
The soundtrack to Scarface can also be heard in Grand Theft Auto III, as the songs are featured on the car radio station Flashback FM.
In Global Operations on the Columbia map, the Drug Lord's office is nearly identical to Tony Montana's and the rest of the mansion is very similar to Tony Montana's.
Books and comics
IDW publishing released a limited series called Scarface: Scarred For Life. It starts with corrupt police officers finding Tony has survived the final mansion showdown.
Television and film
Animated show The Simpsons parodies the film in the episode Lisa's Rival when Homer acquires a large pile of sugar. While guarding the pile, Homer drifts off to sleep murmuring "In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women" in a faux-Cuban accent, echoing Tony's sentiments about how to win over American women.
In 2001, plans were set into motion for hip hop artist Cuban Link to write and star in a sequel to Scarface entitled Son of Tony. The plans for a prospective sequel drew both praise as well as criticism, and after several years Cuban Link indicated that he may no longer be involved with the project as the result of movie rights issues and creative control.
The South Park episode Medicinal Fried Chicken is a parody of events that take place in the movie, where Eric Cartman suffers from KFC withdrawal syndrome after the fast food products have been effectively outlawed in Colorado, so he and his friend work out a deal with Colonel Sanders. Eric's excessive consumption of the product is an impediment to Colonel's plans and his inability to carry out a murder of Jamie Oliver as the Colonel's utmost critic finds Sanders outraged, seeking for vengeance, emulating the Sosa-Tony situation. Sanders is quoted as saying "Don't ever try to fuck me, Eric", directly paraphrasing Sosa's minatory remarks to Tony not long after they had met for the first time.
Universal announced in 2011 that the studio is developing a new version of Scarface. The studio claims that the new film is neither a sequel or a remake, but will take elements from both this version and its 1932 predecessor, including the basic premise: a man who becomes a kingpin in his quest for the American Dream. Martin Bregman, who produced the 1983 remake, will produce this version.
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- Scarface at Rotten Tomatoes
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