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Scarface is a 1983 American crime film directed by Brian De Palma, written by Oliver Stone, produced by Martin Bregman, and starring Al Pacino as Tony Montana. The film is a remake of the 1932 film of the same name, which in turn was based on the 1929 novel by Armitage Trail. The film tells the story of a Cuban refugee who comes to Miami in 1980 with the Mariel Boatlift, and becomes a drug cartel kingpin during the cocaine boom of the 1980s. The film is dedicated to Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht, the director and principal screenwriter, respectively, of the original film.

The initial critical response to Scarface was mixed, with criticism over excessive violence and graphic language. Some Cuban expatriates in Miami objected to the film's portrayal of Cubans as criminals and drug traffickers. Later reviews were more positive. It is now considered a classic within the mob film genre.

ContentsEdit

 [hide*1 Plot

Plot[edit]Edit

In 1980, Cuban refugee Tony Montana (Al Pacino) arrives in Miami during the Mariel boatlift. He, along with his best friend Manny Ribera (Steven Bauer), and their friends and associates Angel (Pepe Serna) and Chi-Chi (Ángel Salazar), are sent to "Freedom Town," a refugee camp. In exchange for killing a former Cuban government official at the request of wealthy drug dealer Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia), the group are released from Freedom Town and given green cards. On the outside, they are offered a deal by Frank's henchman Omar Suarez (F. Murray Abraham) to buy cocaine from Colombian dealers. The deal falls through and Angel is dismembered with a chainsaw by the Colombians. Manny and Chi-Chi storm the apartment before the same fate befalls Tony, and the Colombians are killed. Suspecting that Omar betrayed them, Tony and Manny insist on personally taking to Frank the money and drugs retrieved from the deal. Impressed, Frank hires Tony and Manny. During their meeting, Tony meets, and is instantly attracted to, Elvira Hancock (Michelle Pfeiffer), Frank's girlfriend.

Months later, Tony visits his mother Georgina (Míriam Colón), and younger sister, Gina (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), of whom he is fiercely protective. His mother is disgusted by his life of crime and throws him out. As Tony gets in his waiting car, Manny comments on Gina's beauty before being warned by Tony to stay away from her.

Frank sends Tony and Omar to Bolivia to meet with cocaine kingpin Alejandro Sosa (Paul Shenar). Tony agrees to a deal with Sosa without Frank's approval, and Omar leaves to contact Frank. Sosa discloses that Omar is a police informant and then has Tony witness as a beaten Omar is pushed to his death from a helicopter. Tony vouches for the rest of his organization and Frank, and Sosa agrees to the deal, parting with a warning that Tony should never betray him. In Miami, Frank is infuriated by Omar's demise and the unauthorized deal struck by Tony. The relationship between Tony and Frank dissolves, and Tony establishes his own organization and informs Elvira of his intentions toward her.

At a nightclub, Tony is shaken down by corrupt detective Mel Bernstein (Harris Yulin), who proposes to "tax" Tony's business dealings in return for police protection and information. Tony angers Frank further by openly pursuing Elvira in the club. Tony sees Gina dancing with a drug dealer. He throws the dealer out, and following a heated exchange he slaps Gina before Manny takes her home. Hitmen attempt to assassinate Tony, but he escapes. Suspecting that his former boss sent both Bernstein and the hitmen, Tony, Manny and Chi-Chi go to Frank's office, where they find him with Bernstein. When a planned phone call by one of Tony's henchmen sets up Frank's involvement, Manny kills Frank and Tony kills Bernstein. Tony takes Elvira and seizes Frank's empire.

With Sosa's supplies, Tony builds a multi-million-dollar empire, and he later marries Elvira. However, the operation struggles as Tony and Elvira excessively use cocaine, Tony's money launderer demands more pay, and Manny grows resentful as Tony takes all credit for their success. Eventually, Tony is charged with money laundering and tax evasion after a police sting operation. Sosa offers to use his government connections to keep Tony out of jail if Tony assassinates a Bolivian journalist intending to expose Sosa during a speech to the United Nations. Later, Tony further pushes Manny and Elvira away by blaming his friend for his arrest and accusing his wife of being infertile because of her drug use. After a fight, Elvira leaves Tony.

In New York City, Tony, Chi-Chi and Sosa's henchman Alberto (Mark Margolis) prepare for the assassination. Alberto plants a bomb on the journalist's car, but when he is unexpectedly accompanied by his family, Tony calls off the mission. Alberto insists on continuing, forcing Tony to kill him. Later, Tony learns that Manny and Gina have been missing for several days. Returning home, Tony is contacted by a furious Sosa over the mission's failure. Sosa ends their business relationship and reminds Tony that he should not have betrayed him.

In search of Gina, Tony goes to his mother's house. She gives him an address in Coconut Grove. At the address, Manny opens the door wearing a bathrobe. When Tony also sees Gina in a robe, he kills Manny. Gina tells Tony that she and Manny had just gotten married the day before and were planning to surprise him.

Tony and his men take Gina to Tony's mansion. Tony declares war on Sosa before burying his face in a large mound of cocaine. Meanwhile, Sosa's men begin assaulting the mansion and killing Tony's men. A drugged Gina accuses Tony of wanting her himself, before shooting him in the leg. One of Sosa's men shoots and kills Gina. Tony kills the man and becomes distraught at the sight of Gina's corpse. Chi-Chi is also killed by Sosa's assassins. In a cocaine-fueled fury, Tony uses a grenade-launcher-equipped rifle to assault Sosa's men. Tony is repeatedly shot, but continues to fight until he is shot in the back. Tony's corpse falls into a fountain below, in front of a statue reading, "The World is Yours."

Cast[edit]Edit

Reaction[edit]Edit

Scarface premiered on December 1, 1983 in New York City, where it was initially greeted with mixed to positive reaction. The film's two stars, Al Pacino and Steven Bauer, were joined in attendance by Burt and Diane LaneMelanie GriffithRaquel WelchJoan Collins, her then-boyfriend Peter Holm and Eddie Murphy among others.[2] 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."[3]

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.[4] Over the years, reviews for the film have changed from negative to positive. Some stated that editing was a problem in the movie. In one case, where Omar Suarez is hanging from the helicopter, his shoe falls off randomly and it seems as if he is dancing while hanging from the helicopter.

Rating[edit]Edit

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."[5]

Box office[edit]Edit

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).

Critical reception[edit]Edit

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."[6]He later added it to his "Great Movies" list.[7] Vincent Canby also praised the film in 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."[8]

Site "Reviews and The City" gave four out five stars. The site Commented that the film is "really “fun”. Nevertheless, isn’t necessarily the same thing as great film" and criticized some elements of Oliver Stone script (such as simplicity of some things); also criticized Al Pacino performance. However, the rating was very good[9]

Leonard Maltin was also among those critics who held a negative opinion of Scarface. He gave the film 1½ 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.[10]

In his review for NewsweekDavid 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".[11] 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."[12] 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."[13]

At Rotten Tomatoes holds an average "fresh" rating of 89% 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."[14] Metacritic gives it an average score of 65/100.

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. DePalma was nominated for, but did not win, a Razzie Award for Worst Director.

Legacy[edit]Edit

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.[15] The line "Say hello to my little friend!" (spoken by Montana of his M16A1'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,"[16] and Empire Magazine placed it among the top 500 films of all time, at #284.[17] In 2010, VH1 rated the movie at number 5 in its list of 100 greatest movies of all time. Scarface was the first film in which the expletive "fuck" is used over 200 times.

American Film Institute recognition[edit]Edit

Releases[edit]Edit

VHS[edit]Edit

Scarface was initially released by MCA Home Video on VHSCED VideodiscLaserdisc, 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.[18] 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.

TV version[edit]Edit

The TV version of Scarface premiered on ABC on January 7, 1989.[19] 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-" or replaced with less offensive alternatives. 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 Luis and Miguel Echevierra.
  • While visiting his mother's house, Tony presents her with 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.

DVD[edit]Edit

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".[20]

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 status in the hip hop world and other extras ported over from the previous DVD. New to this edition was a 2.35:1Anamorphic 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.

Blu-ray[edit]Edit

Universal Studios released Scarface on Blu-ray on September 6, 2011 in a two-disc, limited edition, steelbox package.[21] 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 1989 television edit.[22]

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.[23]

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 teamed up to make a Scarface Special Event. The event included Scarface coming back to select theatres nationwide for one night only on Wednesday, August 31, 2011. A twenty-minute documentary on how the film impacted the world today also featured.

A single-disc version, featuring only the first disc of the film and special features in standard Blu-ray packaging was released on October 11 of the same year.

Spanish-language version[edit]Edit

When released in Spain, the film was titled El Precio del Poder (The Price of Power).[24][25] 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 cicatrizada"). Hector `The Toad` calls Tony Montana 'Cara de cicatriz' while he is being chained in the shower after Angel has been killed.

Other media[edit]Edit

Books and comics[edit]Edit

  • Dark Horse Comicsimprint DH Press released a novel called Scarface: The Beginning by L. A. Banks.[26][27]
  • 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. Similar to the game The World Is Yours, Tony works at rebuilding his criminal empire.[28]

Soundtrack[edit]Edit

Main article: Scarface (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

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 waveelectronic music. De Palma says that he has repeatedly denied Universal's requests to release the film with a "rap score" because he feels Moroder's score is already perfect.[29]

Television and film[edit]Edit

  • In 2001, plans were made for hip hop artist Cuban Link to write and star in a sequel to Scarface, titled Son of Tony.[30] The plans drew both praise and 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.[31]
  • 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 nor 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,[32] with a screenplay by David Ayer[33] and David Yates in talks to direct the film.

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