When director Brian De Palma submitted the film to the MPAA, they gave it an "X rating". He then made some cuts and resubmitted it a second time; again the film was given an "X rating" (one of the reasons apparently being that Octavio the clown was shot too many times). He yet again made some further cuts and submitted it a third time; yet again it was given an "X". De Palma refused to cut the film any further to qualify it for an R. He and producer Martin Bregman arranged a hearing with the MPAA. They brought in a panel of experts, including real narcotics officers, who stated that the film was an accurate portrayal of real life in the drug underworld and should be widely seen. This convinced the 20 members of the ratings board to give the third submitted cut of the film an "R rating" by a vote of 18-2. However, De Palma surmised that if the third cut of the film was judged an "R" than the very first cut should have been an "R" as well. He asked the studio if he could release the first cut but was told that he couldn't. However since the Studio execs really didn't know the differences between the different cuts that had been submitted, De Palma released the first cut of the film to theaters anyway. It wasn't until the film had been released on videocassette months later that he confessed that he had released his first unedited and intended version of the film.
The picture of Gen. Cocombre that the cocaine investigator shows during his interview that Sosa shows to Tony and the rest of his guests, is in fact of Col. Luis Arce Gómez, who was an actual member of the infamous "Cocaine Coup" that ran Bolivia from 1981-82.
The cocaine used throughout the shooting of the film was supposed to be dried milk, but that couldn't be used because it didn't fit well when the scene was shot. Director Brian De Palma refuses to admit what substance was ultimately used for cocaine out of fear that it would destroy the illusion of realism.
During filming F. Murray Abraham was notified that he had won the part of Antonio Salieri in Amadeus (1984) by director Milos Forman. Abraham later noted that he immediately noticed that he immediately began being treated with a great deal of respect by the crew on "Scarface" because it was a highly coveted part for which many top actors had auditioned.
Gina Montana (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) actually makes her first appearance during the beach scene. At around 44 minutes, Manny Ribera (Steven Bauer) is seen observing a woman from behind. That women is Gina Montana. Director Brian De Palma states that the appearance is supposed to be the first indication of Gina's promiscuity.
There was a huge controversy in the city of Miami during the making of the film over whether the producers should be allowed to shoot in the city. The Miami Tourist Board decided not to allow filming, as they were afraid the movie would discourage tourism to Miami, particuarly as it showed Miami's latest Cuban immigrants as gangsters and drug dealers.
In the opening sequence with Tony Montana (Al Pacino) and the immigration officers, Charles Durning's voice has clearly been used to overdub an actor playing one of the officers. Another of the officers is dubbed by Brian De Palma's regular Dennis Franz. If you listen carefully, Al Pacino also had to overdub his own voice at three or four different points in the same scene.
The word "yeyo" is used by Tony Montana (Al Pacino) as a slang word for cocaine. This word was not in the script, and was ad-libbed by Pacino during the first drug deal scene (chainsaw scene), and Brian De Palma liked it enough to keep using it throughout the film. Pacino learned the word while learning the Cuban accent.
A majority of the film was shot in Los Angeles, California, standing in for Miami, Florida. This was done because production would have been endangered by protests from angry Cuban-Americans over the film's reported subject matter. Streets and buildings used for shooting were redressed by the art directors to have the "feel" of Miami.
The prop firearms were equipped with electronic synchronizing devices so that they would only fire when the camera shutter was open. The result was that the guns' muzzle flashes are much more visible and consistent than in most movies.
The signed picture of former U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew in Lopez's office is one that was commonly sent to the general public that requested one during his tenure. Very common in the collector's world, they usually sell for $20.00 or less.
Producer Martin Bregman, in the book 'Scarface Nation', revealed that Glenn Close was the original choice for the role of Elvira, but he was dissatisfied because he thought she would be "only half a hooker".
In the scene at the Sun Ray where Tony Montana meets the Colombians, there is the trademark multi-colored bag of Mothers Cookies on the dresser. Mother's cookies eventually was acquired by the Kellogg Co. and this product placement is now noted on the Mother's Cookies website.
This film has been an influence on hip-hop culture and rap music since the late 1980s. The Houston-area rap group The Geto Boys sampled several lines into their rap songs, and one rapper (Brad Jordan aka Scarface, now the CEO of Def Jam South) in the group took the name of this film as his stage name. Many rappers, including Sean Combs claim this is their favorite film.
According to producer Martin Bregman, the only shot removed from the "chainsaw scene" was that of a dismembered arm hanging from the shower curtain rod as the camera pans over to Hector, thereby establishing his line "And now the leg, huh?" The arm is visible in a production photo of actor Al Israel (Hector).
The beer that one of the two assassins drinks in the Babylon Club before the shootout is Bavarian Löwenbräu. The brewery is located in Munich, Germany, and was founded around 1383. Also, the box seen in the money-counting scene, where Tony Montana wants the money to be counted a second time, is a Löwenbräu box. Löwenbräu translates into English as "lion's brew".