All about the movie "Scarface"

Scarface a 1983 motion picture starring Al Pacino about Tony Montana, a fictional Cuban refugee who comes to Florida in 1980 as a result of the Mariel Boatlift. Kicked out of Cuba for being an assassin, Tony becomes a gangster against the backdrop of the 1980s cocaine boom; the movie chronicles his meteoric rise to the top of Miami's criminal underworld and subsequent downfall. The film is loosely based on the 1932 pseudo-Al Capone biopic, Scarface.

In 1980, young Cuban hit man Tony Montana, the son of a Cuban woman and an American man, is kicked out of his country during the infamous Mariel boatlift, in which Cuban president Fidel Castro exiled thousands of his deadliest prisoners to Florida. There, Tony and several of his old prison friends, including his partner-in-crime, Manny, find themselves being held in a detention camp beneath a highway while the U.S. government attempts to figure out what to do with the fugitives. Luck comes for them when they are hired by a Miami drug lord, Frank Lopez, to murder a former Castro loyalist who has since fallen from favor. In exchange for carrying out the assassination, Lopez promises to obtain US immigration green cards for Manny, Tony, and another associate named Angel. They eagerly agree and stab the man to death during a detention camp riot.

They go to work washing dishes at a Cuban food stand in Miami and, in the midst of daydreaming about being cocaine dealers, are approached by Lopez henchman Omar Suarez to unload a boatload of Marijuana. Tony thinks his offer is insulting, so the pair is then offered $5,000 to complete a drug deal with a Colombian couple. The deal goes sour. Tony and one of his crew, Angel, are ambushed by the Colombians, who want to steal the buy money and keep the drugs for themselves. Tony is forced to watch while Angel is dismembered limb by limb with a chainsaw. Just as Tony is about to suffer the same fate, Manny bursts in to save him, killing one of the Colombians. Tony chases the other one outside and kills him in the middle of a crowded South Beach street. It's Tony's lucky day. Not only does he survive the slaughterhouse hotel room, he now has possession of the cocaine and the buy money he was to use for its purchase. He turns both the cash and the "yeyo" cocaine over to Lopez, who, seeing that Tony has a knack for completing the dirty work, immediately hires Tony and Manny as enforcers in his criminal hierarchy. Tony thus begins his meteoric rise up through the ranks of the Miami cocaine underworld in bloody fashion. He re-establishes contact with his sister, Gina, who eventually begins seeing Manny against Tony's wishes.

While accompanying Omar to Bolivia, Tony begins to show his defiance to Lopez's authority when he nearly makes a deal with Bolivian drug lord Alejandro Sosa. The full-blown conflict between Lopez and Tony over this matter results in Lopez's attempted assassination of Tony; however, it fails and in rapid fashion Tony kills Lopez and his other heirs in a coup, taking over Lopez's business and girlfriend, Elvira, for his wife. In control of most of Miami's cocaine ring, his deal with Sosa allows "Montana, Co." to expand across the nation and bring in millions of dollars monthly. Tony buys "the world" as he stated earlier to Manny, getting a huge new mansion, new cars, new security, new clothes, and so on. However, his addiction to his own product, his questionable love for Gina and his careless neglect of Lopez's earlier advice of "playing straight" ensure that his period on top is short-lived. His criticism of his wife's addiction rather than trying to help her clean up results in the destruction of his marriage. His overbearing protection of Gina results in his murder of Manny when it is revealed the two secretly got married.

While exchanging $1+ million in cash into checks, Miami police inform him it was a sting operation, resulting in his arrest and future trial for tax evasion. No matter how much money Tony throws in the face of his lawyer and the justice system, he can't buy his way out of the inevitable. Sosa and several other Bolivian elites come to Tony and offer to help him out through their connections in Washington D.C. In exchange, Tony must help them rid themselves of their own problem, a Latin-American journalist who is planning to expose to the American public the extent of corruption in Bolivia, which includes Sosa and his comrades. While on the assassination mission to set and detonate a car bomb, Tony gets cold feet when the journalist's wife and two little girls enter the car with him. After Tony refuses to allow the detonation of the car bomb and kills Sosa's aide, Sosa promises to get back at Tony. While Tony is high on cocaine at his mansion and not watching his security cameras one night, Sosa's army arrives and breaks into Tony's mansion. Tony's security and his famous M16 rifle with a M203 Grenade Launcher attachment is no match for the Sosan Army.

In the end, Tony's own power destroys himself, his sister, his friend, and his marriage, just as his mother predicted ("Why do you have to destroy everything you touch?"). Tony became a victim of his own lust for power and the famous saying "Those who have power only want more."

Production and Controversy

Scarface was directed by Brian De Palma, and written by now famed director Oliver Stone while the latter battled a cocaine addiction. Stone consulted the Miami police and the Drug Enforcement Agency while writing the film, incorporating many true crimes into the film (one set of crime scene photos Stone was shown depicted a man who had been dismembered with a chainsaw and stuffed into an aluminum trashcan).

The film was originally to be filmed in Miami but it received criticism from the Cuban community, which objected to their representation in the film as murderous drug dealers. Leaders in the Cuban community wanted Stone and the movie's producers to include scenes which would show Anti-Castro activity in Miami as part of the movie's plot. After protracted negotiations over the script, the producers ultimately refused to give in to their demands, saying that the film was about cocaine and not the politics of Castro's Cuba. As a result, the exception being obvious exterior shots, the movie was filmed in and around Los Angeles.

When the film was submitted to the MPAA, it was rated X for the graphic language and violence. DePalma would re-edit the film two additional times, toning down the violence but still getting an X-rating from the MPAA. After the film was rejected for a third time, DePalma, when he appealed the MPAA's decision, convinced the MPAA with help from a panel of various real life police officers and narcotics officers, who told the MPAA that the violence in DePalma's films was an accurate portrayal of real life drug dealers and that the film should be released with its violence intact so as to show and educate to viewer towards how violent the drug trade was. After a vote of 18 to 2, the MPAA agreed to give the third cut of the film an R-rating. But DePalma, who felt that there were no real differences between the two "clean" cuts he put together and the original director's cut version, arranged to have his original "X" cut released to theaters with an R-rating.

For the remainder of the 1980s, Scarface held the record for the movie containing the most uses of the word "fuck." (A popular Internet rumor states that the group Blink 182 got their name from a mis-count of how many times Tony says "fuck" in the film.) It lost this title in 1990 to Goodfellas.

Scarface and pop culture

Scarface has had a prominent effect on pop culture. It is often called "one of the most quoted films of all time," a claim that would seem to be verifiable by numerous references to the film's more memorable lines in such other movies as Jane Austen's Mafia!, TheSimpsons, and South Park. Tony Montana's style of dress (along with that of Don Johnson's Sonny Crockett character on Miami Vice) became synonymous with both the cool and sleazy aspects of 1980s pop culture.

Scarface is also notable for its extensive popularity with many hip hop artists and fans, in particular those affiliated with gangsta rap. A number of rappers single out Tony Montana as a role model for his transition from poverty to wealth. Many Latino and Hispanic rappers dress like characters from the film, though they only opt to emulate the "street clothes" Tony's crew wears in the beginning of the movie, neglecting the flashy suits which he wears for the majority of the film. It has also become very popular to embroider or emboss images of Tony onto leather jackets and pants. Lines from the film are also frequently sampled on hip-hop songs; the Houston-based Geto Boys was one of the earliest rap groups to sample the lines and dialogue. Music from the movie has also been sampled in the instrumentals for hip-hop songs such as Mobb Deep's "It's Mine". Nas recorded a song "The World is Yours" based on the motto Tony Montana lived by. One hip-hop artist - Brad Jordan (later a member of the Geto Boys) has even gone so far as to name himself Scarface after the film, and another goes by the name Tony Montana.

In 2003, in preparation for the release of Scarface on DVD, there were controversial plans to have modern hip-hop artists record an entirely new musical score for the film, which would take the place of the original 1980s New Wave soundtrack. The move was supported by hip-hop fans and artists, but decried by the true purists and original fans of the film's 80s nostalgic qualities. In the end, the latter group won out when DePalma, who had a contractual final cut on the film, refused to edit it.

Rockstar North, the creators of the Grand Theft Auto video games are evidently quite fond of the film; Grand Theft Auto III features nearly the entire soundtrack as one of the ingame radio stations, and the sequel Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a reimagining of the film, even featuring a replica of Tony Montana's lavish mansion with such precise details as reproductions of the security cameras' views on a group of tiny screens. There is also a hidden bloody room with a chainsaw pick-up as a sort of re-enactment of the chainsaw torture scene.

The imagery and symbolism from Scarface has also found itself as a shorthand form of expressing the gansta rap lifestyle or "thug life". When a cartoon adaptation of the daily comic The Boondocks debuted in 2005, the opening credits presented a montage portraying its lead characters in scenes that reflected their personality. Riley Freeman, the 8-year-old striving to be a hardcore gangster, is portrayed as the Pacino character in the stylized black and white seen in the popular movie poster.

A licensed video game, Scarface: The World is Yours is currently being developed by Radical Entertainment and is scheduled to be released by Vivendi Universal Games sometime in 2006. The game is reported to be a pseudo-sequel, and concerns Tony's attempt to rebuild his cocaine empire after the events of the film.

The song "Scarface (Push It To The Limit)" that is played when the movie shows Tony's wealth and success, is also used in one of the South Park episodes depicting Cartman training to win a disabled olympics.

Quotes

  • "Don't fuck me, Tony. Don't you ever try to fuck me" - Sosa, to Tony Montana, at their first meeting.
  • "I never fucked anybody over in my life who didn't have it comin' to him, you got that? All I have in this world is my balls and my word, and I don't break 'em for no one, you understand?" - Tony Montana, when he assures Alejandro Sosa after Omar Suarez is killed.
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  • "SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND"! - Tony Montana, as he begins to shoot a large automatic rifle during the final shootout against Sosa's assassins. Perhaps the most famous quote from the film. With the thick accent that Pacino affected as Montana, it is most recognizable to the general public when pronounced, "SAY 'ELLO TO MY LEELE FREN'!"
  • "Who you think you fucking with man? I'm Tony Montana. You fuck with me, you fucking with the best." - Tony Montana.
  • "Is this it? Is this what it's all about, Manny? Eating, drinking, fucking, sucking, snorting. Then what? Tell me, then what? You're 50? You got a bag for a belly? You got tits. You got a liver, they got spots on it and you're eatin' dis fuckin' shit, looking like those rich fucking mummies in here....Is this what I work for?. Look at that. A junkie. I got a fuckin' junkie for a wife. Don't eat nothin', sleeps all day, with dem black shades on. Wakes up with a qualude, and who won't fuck me 'cause she's in a coma. I can't even have a kid with her Manny. Her womb is so polluted; I can't even have a fucking little baby with her!" - Tony Montana, in Miami restaurant.

"What you lookin' at? You're all a bunch of fuckin' assholes. You know why? You don't have the guts to be what you wanna be? You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin' fingers and say, "That's the bad guy." So...what that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don't have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. This is the last time you're gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There's a bad guy comin' through! Better get outta his way!" - Tony Montana, in Miami restaurant.

Cast

  • Al Pacino - Tony Montana
  • Steven Bauer - Manny Ribera
  • Michelle Pfeiffer - Elvira
  • Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio - Gina
  • Robert Loggia - Frank Lopez
  • Miriam Colon - Mama Montana
  • F. Murray Abraham - Omar Suarez
  • Paul Shenar - Alejandro Sosa
  • Harris Yulin - Mel Bernstein
  • Ángel Salazar - Chi Chi
  • Arnaldo Santana - Ernie
  • Pepe Serna - Angel
  • Michael P. Moran - Nick The Pig
  • Al Israel - Hector The Toad

 

 
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