The early life and career of Vito Corleone in 1920s New York is portrayed while his son, Michael, expands and tightens his grip on his crime syndicate stretching from Lake Tahoe, Nevada to pre-revolution 1958 Cuba.
A mentally unstable Vietnam war veteran works as a night-time taxi driver in New York City where the perceived decadence and sleaze feeds his urge for violent action, attempting to save a preadolescent prostitute in the process.
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 Columbian 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
When Tony and Manny are at the beach, talking and having drinks, Tony has perspiration mostly under the right armpit. Several shots when talking to the girl reveal no perspiration under his armpit. 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 »
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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