Scarface (1983)

scarface poster 1983 movie al pacino
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting : 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Cult movie filled with over-the-top performances and violence

Not as classic as Pacino's other gangster role as Michael Corleone

Movie Info

Movie Name: Scarface

Studio: Universal Pictures

Genre(s): Drama/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): December 9, 1983

MPAA Rating: R

scarface al pacino steve bauer tony montana

We can rule this town…after we finish our fancy drinks

When Fidel Castro opens the borders of Cuba in 1980, a flood of Cuban immigrants head to Florida…including some of Cuba’s most dangerous criminals.  Tony Montana (Al Pacino) is one of those men.    Is a climber and sees America as a world of opportunity.  When he hooks up with drug trafficker Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia), Tony sees a means to gain wealth and power.  First Tony must make his mark, and the wealth and power will follow.  As Tony works to seduce Frank’s wife Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer) as his own, he also tries to protect his kid sister Gina (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio).  Crime does pay, but the cost of it might be too much for even Tony to pay.

Directed by Brian De Palma, Scarface is crime action thriller.  The film is loosely based on Al Capone and the Howard Hawks 1932 movie along with the 1929 Armitage Trail novel as well.  The film received mixed reviews from critics, and De Palma was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Director.  The film faced rating challenges but became a blockbuster and quickly became a cult classic.

scarface gina tony montana al pacino mary elizabeth mastrantonio

You’re my sister…I decide who you can sleep with!

I like Scarface, but I was never in the cult of Scarface.  As a gangster film it is good, but I prefer classic New York City type gangsters.   Pacino gave one of the premiere performances as a gangster in Michael Corleone…and Tony Montana is second.

Al Pacino’s Tony does have a moral code…no matter how warped and the sliding scale he has.  He won’t kill a mother and children and he fiercely protects his sister…but he has no problem gunning down anyone else.  This code of honor and his warped perception of the American dream fuels him as he seeks to get everything he’s always wanted.  He works for it, but wants too much too fast (which really is his downfall).  It isn’t as tragic as someone like Michael Corleone.

Pacino chews up the scenery as Tony with his thick (and over-the-top) accent.  He is joined by Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Steven Bauer as the main players.  They are backed up by a great bunch of supporting actors like Robert Loggia, F. Murray Abraham, Richard Belzer, and Mark Margolis among others.

scarface tony montana al pacino say hello to my little friend

Say Hello to My Little Friend!

The movie’s visuals were excessively violent especially for the time.  While directors and writers who followed Scarface seemed to amplify this (like Tarantino and Rodriguez).  The blood flows easily in this movie.  The movie is set in Miami but a lot of it was shot in California and it would have been nice to have more of a Miami feel at points.

It is easy to see why Scarface is iconic.  There are tons of great one liners, snappy directing by De Palma, and an iconic performance by Pacino…plus the excess of the 1980s which was not something dealt with in older gangster films.  I just have a hard time not (unfairly) comparing it to Pacino’s work on The Godfather.  Both movies are stylistically different films, but feature moral decay.  Compared to The Godfather, the decay of Tony is from dead to rotting instead of Michael’s from good to bad.  Both are worthy and both are valid…I just enjoy one more than the other.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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