A tale of greed, deception, money, power, and murder occur between two best friends: a mafia enforcer and a casino executive, compete against each other over a gambling empire, and over a fast living and fast loving socialite.
A mentally unstable veteran works as a nighttime taxi driver in New York City, where the perceived decadence and sleaze fuels his urge for violent action by attempting to liberate a presidential campaign worker and an underage prostitute.
Robert De Niro,
Tony Montana manages to leave Cuba during the Mariel exodus of 1980. He finds himself in a Florida refugee camp but his friend Manny has a way out for them: undertake a contract killing and arrangements will be made to get a green card. He's soon working for drug dealer Frank Lopez and shows his mettle when a deal with Colombian drug dealers goes bad. He also brings a new level of violence to Miami. Tony is protective of his younger sister but his mother knows what he does for a living and disowns him. Tony is impatient and wants it all however, including Frank's empire and his mistress Elvira Hancock. Once at the top however, Tony's outrageous actions make him a target and everything comes crumbling down.Written by
In creating the Freedom Town sequence, Brian De Palma and visual consultant Ferdinando Scarfiotti researched actual events and found that in 1980, newly arrived Marielitos were housed in a hastily constructed camp beneath a Miami freeway. For the movie, the camp was erected in Los Angeles, beneath the intersection of the Santa Monica and Harbour freeways. The final riot in Freedom town called for some linguistic agility, as many of the six hundred extras spoke Spanish; thus safety required careful translation prior to each set-up. See more »
As Tony is watching the Goodyear blimp go by, the reflection on the window shows him with a cigarette already in his mouth. The very next shot shows him placing the cigarette in his mouth. See more »
...los que no se adapten... al esfuerzo y al heroísmo de una revolución... ¡No los queremos! ¡No los necesitamos!
[in subtitles: They are unwilling to adapt to the spirit of our revolution. We don't want them! We don't need them!]
[Translation word-for-word:... the ones that won't adapt... to the effort and heroism of a revolution... We don't want them! We don't need them!]
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In the opening we see a crawl text (with narrator) that reads: "In May of 1980, Fidel Castro in an effort to normalize relations with the Carter Administration opened the harbor at Mariel, Cuba with the apparent intention of letting some of his people join their relatives in the United States. Within seventy-two hours, 3,000 U.S. boats were headed for Cuba. In the next few weeks, it became evident that Castro was forcing the boat owners to carry back with them not only their relatives but the dregs of his jail population. By the time the port was closed 125,000 'Marielitos' had landed in Florida. An estimated 25,000 had criminal records. This is the story of that minority those they call 'Los Bandidos'." See more »
Network TV version deletes or edits all violent scenes for censorship reasons and adds some extra footage:
the introduction text about Cubans fleeing from Mariel is slightly different from the text shown in the theatrical version (a disclaimer stating that the events are fictitious has been added);
extended Freedom Town section: Tony in a phone booth trying to call his sister Gina; Angel looking in a phone book for his brother Pablo; extended conversation between Tony and Manny about getting out of Freedom Town; Tony and Manny watching television.
Tony's first visit to his mother's house is longer. Tony opens a bottle of champagne and makes a toast to America.
before Tony's first visit to Sosa, the onscreen text has been changed from "Cochabamba, Bolivia" to "South America";
during that visit Tony is introduced to Sosa's girlfriend Gabriela;
Tony's first meeting with his lawyer George;
when Alberto is planting the bomb under the car in N.Y., Tony sees cops nearby and distracts them by pretending to be looking for his missing dog.
Every great gangster movie has under-currents of human drama. Don't expect an emotional story of guilt, retribution and despair from "Scarface". This is a tale of ferocious greed, corruption, and power. The darker side of the fabled "American Dream".
Anybody complaining about the "cheesiness" of this film is missing the point. The superficial characters, cheesy music, and dated fashions further fuel the criticism of this life of diabolical excess. Nothing in the lives of these characters really matter, not on any human level at least. In fact the film practically borderlines satire, ironic considering all the gangsta rappers that were positively inspired by the lifestyle of Tony Montana.
This isn't Brian DePalma's strongest directorial effort, it is occasionally excellent and well-handled (particularly the memorable finale), but frequently sinks to sloppy and misled. Thankfully, it is supported by a very strong script by Oliver Stone (probably good therapy for him, considering the coke habit he was tackling at the time). The themes are consistent, with the focus primarily on the life of Tony Montana, and the evolution of his character as he is consumed by greed and power. The dialogue is also excellent, see-sawing comfortably between humour and drama. There are many stand-out lines, which have since wormed their way into popular culture in one form or another.
The cast help make it what it is as well, but this is really Pacino's film. One of his earlier less subtle performances (something much more common from him nowadays), this is a world entirely separate from Michael Corleone and Frank Serpico. Yet he is as watchable here as ever, in very entertaining (and intentionally over-the-top) form. It is hard to imagine another Tony Montana after seeing this film, in possibly one of the most mimicked performances ever. Pfeiffer stood out as dull and uncomfortable on first viewing, but I've come to realize how she plays out the part of the bored little wife. Not an exceptional effort, but unfairly misjudged. The supporting players are very good too, particularly Paul Shenar as the suave Alejandro Sosa.
Powerful, occasionally humorous, sometimes shocking, and continually controversial. "Scarface" is one of the films of the eighties (whatever that might mean to you). An essential and accessible gangster flick, and a pop-culture landmark. 9/10
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