Scarface – The Al Pacino Show

Scarface – The Al Pacino Show

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
  1. "Say hello to my little friend!"  Everyone knows that line from Brian De Palma’s 1983 gangster flick Scarface.  What everyone doesn’t know, though, is that it is a remake of a 1932 film-noir style gangster flick co-directed by Howard Hawks (His Girl Friday and The Big Sleep) and Richard Rosson.  Also, that 1932 film was based on a novel by Armitage Trail.  So the classic gangster film that everyone knows is actually based on a movie that is based on a book.  The reason few people realize this could be that the novel was published in 1929 with the original film being released in 1932… more than 50 years before the Scarfacethat stars Al Pacino.  Whatever the reason, everyone knows at least a little bit about Scarface and it was even nominated for 3 Golden Globes including Best Original Score, Best Actor – Drama (Al Pacino) and Best Supporting Actor (Steven Bauer who plays Manny).

    What is it about?

    The film runs just 10 minutes shy of three hours so, a summary of the entire plot would probably be something you don’t want to read.  Because of that, I will stick to the basic story line without including the B, C, and even D-stories that are woven into the epic narrative.

    Tony Montana (Al Pacino) came to the USA with the "Cuban crime wave" as they called it.  He started out in "freedom town" which is basically a place to keep all the immigrants before they get their green cards.  Tony and his buddy Manny (Steven Bauer) speed up the process of getting their papers by killing a political figure for some powerful people.  Once they get out of "freedom town," they get a job at a crappy little food stand; but they want so much more.

    They get a little more when they pick up their first gig in the drug game.  They have to make an exchange for some cocaine with a couple of new people.  That exchange goes horribly wrong leading to the death of one of Tony’s friends; but Tony ends up with the cocaine and the money.  This gets him in the good graces of kingpin Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia) who brings Tony and Manny in on bigger things.  Eventually Tony gains the trust of Bolivian cocaine distributor Alejandro Sosa (Paul Shenar) and wants to expand.  Lopez doesn’t share Tony’s desire to expand so Tony moves on and starts his own operation… which gets bigger and more lucrative than Lopez’s.

    As Tony gets more and more powerful he has people try and kill him, has to pay off federal agents, kills Lopez, steals Lopez’s woman, and buys a tiger… cool, right?  He becomes the most powerful drug kingpin in all of Miami and possibly the USA.  He ends up in some hot legal water, though, when Manny sets up a deal that turns out to be a setup.  Sosa and some other powerful friends are able to get Tony out of it if he agrees to help them assassinate a journalist that threatens to expose Sosa and others.  Tony doesn’t follow through on this, though, because to kill the journalist, he would also have to kill the journalist’s wife and kids.

    From there, all hell breaks loose and Tony goes to war with Sosa and his powerful friends.  Basically everyone in the cocaine business other than Tony, comes after Tony.  They kill him in an epic gun battle at his mansion.  Other intricacies of the story include Tony’s relationship with his sister who ends up dating Manny, Tony’s decaying relationship with his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer), Tony’s tumultuous relationship with Manny, and Tony’s increasing drug use.  

    Is it any good?

    It would be easy to say that Scarface is too long seeing as how it runs two hours and fifty minutes; however, it’s hard to pick any scenes that could be removed.  All of the storylines interweave so nicely that without one, the film wouldn’t be as powerful.  You could suggest starting into the narrative later, but that would take away some of the character development that allows you to connect with this ultra-violent gangster.  And that is the beauty of this film.  While very few people that watch Scarface are drug kingpins, most people can connect with Tony because he is a guy that comes from nothing and achieves his hopes and dreams.  He reaches his version of the American dream… albeit a twisted version of that dream.  But he does get money and power.  It’s Capitalism at its core.

    While Al Pacino is a great actor, few of his roles are as memorable as his turn as Tony "Scarface" Montana.  People immitate his accent, quote him, have posters of him, wear t-shirts with him, and rappers even rap about him.  It’s hard to think of Al Pacino and not think of Scarface because he is so fantastic in this role.  He brings a passion to the role that few others could.  It’s tough to bring passion and heart to this kind of role, but Pacino does it spectacularly.  He even makes you laugh at times.  His charm and charisma make you kind of want to hang out with him… until you see how insanely violent he is.  No matter what you think of the brutal violence, drug use, and constant barrage of vulgar language in Scarface, you can’t argue that Al Pacino doesn’t put on one heck of a good show.

    Nolan’s Grade:  A

    Follow Nolan on Twitter for more reviews:  @Nol_Col

    ‘Like’ Nolan on Facebook to stay up to date:  FilmCritic – Nolan

Leave a Reply