Scarface (1983)

 

Hello Little Friend! Or should I call you Sir?
Hello Little Friend! Or should I call you Sir?

Genre: Gangster Crime Drama

Starring: Al Pacino (The Panic in Needle Park  Serpico), Michelle Pfeiffer (Dangerous Liaisons  Batman Returns) 

Directed By: Brian De Palma (Carrie The Untouchables) 

Overview: Loosely based on Howard Hawks' Scarface (1932), Tony Montana is one of the thousands of Cuban Criminal refugees that land on American soil. His ambitious goals in the cocaine-flowing heyday days of 80s Miami look like they'll be taking him right to the top.

 

In May 1980, Fidel Castro 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. It soon became evident that Castro was forcing the boat owners to carry back with them not only their relatives, but the dregs of his jails. Of the 125,000 refugees that landed in Florida an estimated 25,000 had criminal records. - Opening Title Card


We open on the life of Tony Montana as a lowly uneducated boat-person refugee. His first act criminal act on American soil is getting a green card through assassination in his refugee camp. The job that kill earns him is as a lowly uneducated boat-person refugee dishwasher. Already Tony is unimpressed with his lot in Miami, though we learn rather quickly that his balls are made of brass and that he's willing to take a lot of risk to gain the power and respect he knows he deserves. Even those who haven't seen Scarface know what happens next. Tony swears his way to the middle and kills his way to the top of the Miami cocaine empire, culminating in our introduction to Tony Montana's little friend, who, as you all know, is a standard M-16 rifle with an extended clip and an M-203 grenade launcher.
 
Scarface is a classic. It's Pacino's most popular role of the 80s and depending on your demographic, the baddest-ass of any of his roles... including Cruisin'. Thousands of sideways sequined baseball caps and wack oversized puffy wigga jackets with Montana's angry scar prove it. When you're at the mall and some urban buffoon's pants fall down and Pacino's mad-puckered mug stares up at you from the poser's stylish butt-pockets, well that speaks to a particular brand of awesome to me. I mean, it's a no-brainer.
Putting the 'ouch' in Douche
Putting the 'ouch' in Douche
 
Timeless? Well that's another story altogether. When we consider De Palma's choice of settings and costumes, it was with overzealous over-the-topness, and when you fly on the gimmicky fad, it tends to not age well. If this, the nigh-"Miami Vice" look of the film, isn't your cup of tea, well you missed the window of appreciation that existed when it was first released. But there really is still a lot going for Scarface today.  The dynamic Tony has with virtually everyone he meets is entirely different than then with the last, and through it all his big brass pair. There's the famous, brutal gory bathtub chainsaw scene that shows Tony how rough this American life he's entering into really is, there's the excess of his extravagant lifestyle and there's the ambition that was clearly inspired by the Italian mobster in Howard Hawks' 1932 version.
 
In short, Scarface is the story of a violent mouthy Cuban who gets too big for his britches, and the tale of his downfall is as fun to watch as his ascent into the life he knows he's entitled to. Today it may be dated, but it's dated enough to appreciate it as 'a time before'.
And of course Michelle does an EXCELLENT job of playing a coked-up, entitled little bitch. I believe she used 'The Method'
And of course Michelle does an EXCELLENT job of playing a coked-up, entitled little bitch. I believe she used 'The Method'
.
 

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 8 Script: 7 Plot: 7 Mood: 8

Overall Rating: 76% (Sure! Say 'Hello' To Hees Leettle Frend!)
Aftertaste:

Reading the lukewarm reception this film got from the 1001 Club this month, one can see that many critics remembered this film far more fondly than in this recent viewing. I was surprised at this reaction. I mean I've seen this film 3 or 4 times and always found it exciting and interesting, regardless of the year I was watching it. To each his own I suppose. Me, I'm a fan of Sin City and Irreversible, so violence for  violence's sake, as long as I consider it art, well I got no issue. Let us draw the line at Saw CCMXXXVVVIII and Hostel, shall we?

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