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Scarface (1983) Poster

(1983)

Trivia

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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 not only was the film an accurate portrayal of real life in the drug underworld, but ultimately it was an anti-drug film, and should be widely seen. This convinced the arbitrators that the third submitted cut of the film deserved 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" then 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.
When Scarface (1983) was re-released in theaters in 2003, the studio wanted Brian De Palma to change the soundtrack so that rap songs inspired by the movie could be used. De Palma refused.
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Tony Montana uses "yeyo" as slang for cocaine. Al Pacino learned the word while learning the Cuban accent, and ad-libbed it during the chainsaw scene). Brian De Palma liked it enough to keep using it throughout the film.
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Al Pacino reportedly stated that Tony Montana was one of his favorites of all the characters he's played.
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During the scene where Tony and Elvira are sitting in the Cadillac at the car dealership, Al Pacino surreptitiously slips on the hat that Michelle Pfeiffer was wearing while she was looking away, which was not scripted. When she turns back and sees him wearing it, her amused reaction was genuine and to her credit, she stayed in character and ad-libbed a line. Brian De Palma decided to keep that unscripted exchange in the movie to show Elvira's gradual warming up to Montana.
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In order to create the most accurate picture possible, Oliver Stone spent time in Florida and the Caribbean interviewing people on both sides of the law for research. "It got hairy," Stone admitted of the research process. "It gave me all this color. I wanted to do a sun-drenched, tropical Third World gangster, cigar, sexy Miami movie." Unfortunately, while penning the screenplay, Stone was also dealing with his own cocaine habit, which gave him an insight into what the drug can do to users. Stone actually tried to kick his habit by leaving the country to complete the script so he could be far away from his access to the drug. "I moved to Paris and got out of the cocaine world too because that was another problem for me," he said. "I was doing coke at the time, and I really regretted it. I got into a habit of it and I was an addictive personality. I did it, not to an extreme or to a place where I was as destructive as some people, but certainly to where I was going stale mentally. I moved out of L.A. with my wife at the time and moved back to France to try and get into another world and see the world differently. And I wrote the script totally fucking cold sober."
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Though there has long been a myth that Pacino snorted real cocaine on camera, the "cocaine" used in the movie was supposedly powdered milk (even if De Palma has never officially stated what the crew used as a drug stand-in). But whatever it was, it created problems for Pacino's nasal passages. "For years after, I have had things up in there," Pacino said in 2015. "I don't know what happened to my nose, but it's changed."
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In the scene where Tony is in the bathtub watching TV, he says to Manny, "Look at dem pelicangs fly." This line was what Al Pacino practiced with a language coach to get the Cuban accent right.
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Steven Spielberg and De Palma had been friends since the two began making studio movies in the mid-1970s, and they made a habit of visiting each other's sets. Spielberg was on hand for one of the days of shooting the Colombians' initial attack on Tony Montana's house at the end of the movie, so De Palma let Spielberg direct the low-angle shot where the attackers first enter the house.
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To help stay in character, Al Pacino asked director of photography John A. Alonzo to speak to him only in Spanish.
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Despite the title, Tony Montana is called "Scarface" only once throughout the movie, and in Spanish at that ("Cara de cicatriz").
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The international corporation set up by Saddam Hussein to launder money from his various enterprises was called Montana Management after the Scarface (1983) main character.
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In the final shootout sequence, Al Pacino grabs the gun by the barrel. Although only blanks were used, his hand was badly burned, and production had to be shut down for a few weeks. The production used that time to film the final gun battle sequence from numerous angles using numerous cameras.
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Tony's "little friend" is a M16 assault rifle with an M203 40mm grenade launcher attached to the barrel.
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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.
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Steven Bauer got his role without even auditioning. During the audition process, casting director Alixe Gordin saw Bauer and instantly noted that he was right for the role of Manny, a judgment with which both Brian De Palma and Martin Bregman agreed.
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Miriam Colon, who plays Tony's mother, was only 4 years older than Al Pacino.
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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.
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Oliver Stone named Tony Montana after his favorite football player, Joe Montana.
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Brian De Palma liked the script so much that he dropped out of directing Flashdance (1983) to direct this film.
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According to the Family Media Guide, which monitors profanity, sexual content, and violence in movies, Scarface (1983) features 207 uses of the "F" word, which works out to about 1.21 F-bombs per minute. At the time of the films' release, this was the most of any movie in history.
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This film is dedicated to Ben Hecht and Howard Hawks, the writer and director of the original Scarface (1932). Brian De Palma's Scarface is a loose remake of the 1932 movie, which is also about the rise and fall of an American immigrant gangster. The producer of the 1983 version, Martin Bregman, saw the original on late night TV and thought the idea could be modernized and still pay respect to the original film. De Palma's flick is dedicated to the original film's director, Howard Hawks, and screenwriter, Ben Hecht.
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Scarface was actually a nickname of Al Capone who was an Italian-American gangster.
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Michelle Pfeiffer accidentally cut Al Pacino's face during production.
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Although Tony Montana is supposed to be Cuban, making his first language Spanish, he only speaks one line of Spanish during the entire movie.
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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, particularly as it showed Miami's latest Cuban immigrants as gangsters and drug dealers.
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Steven Bauer is the only real-life Cuban in the principal cast. Al Pacino, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Robert Loggia are Italian-American. Miriam Colon is Puerto Rican. F. Murray Abraham, whose character is of unspecified Latino descent, is Assyrian and Italian-American. Angel Salazar, who plays Chi-Chi, is Cuban-American. Bauer and Salazar were often consulted by their co-stars and director Brian De Palma for advice on Cuban attitudes and culture.
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Tammy Lynn Leppert, who played the blonde girl in the blue bikini during the chainsaw sequence, disappeared on 6th July 1983 under suspicious circumstances and has never been heard from again. While working on this movie, Leppert had a breakdown on the set while watching a violent scene. After being taken to her trailer, she expressed to a family friend fears about alleged money laundering and people supposedly wanting to kill her. Tammy quit the film shortly afterwards. She vanished on 6th July 1983, slightly over five months before this movie was released to movie theaters in the United States. Leppert's disappearance was featured on Unsolved Mysteries: Episode #5.1 (1992) on 16th September 1992. Tammy's mother was interviewed for the segment; she died a few years later but Tammy's sister is still searching for her.
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According to producer Martin Bregman, the only shot removed from the "chainsaw scene" was a dismembered arm hanging from the shower curtain rod as the camera pans over to Hector, establishing his line "And now the leg, huh?" The arm is visible in a production photo of actor Al Israel.
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According to AMC's "DVD TV: Much More Movie" airing, Cher loved the film; Lucille Ball came with her family and hated it because of the graphic violence and language; and Dustin Hoffman was said to have fallen asleep. Writers Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and John Irving were among those who allegedly walked out in disgust after the notorious chainsaw scene. At the middle of the film, Martin Scorsese turned to Steven Bauer and told him, "You guys are great - but be prepared, because they're going to hate it in Hollywood... because it's about them."[24]
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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.
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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.
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Tony Montana's frequent epithet "maricón" is a homophobic slur, equal to "faggot" in English.
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Body count: 42.
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Al Pacino worked with experts in knife combat, trainers, and boxer Roberto Duran to attain the body type that he wanted for his role. Duran also helped inspire the character, who had "a certain lion in him", according to Pacino. Steven Bauer and a dialect coach helped him learn aspects of the Cuban Spanish language and pronunciation
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Ranked #10 on the American Film Institute's list of the 10 greatest films in the genre "Gangster". Scarface (1932), the version starring Paul Muni, was ranked #6 in June 2008.
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Producer Bregman offered relative newcomer Oliver Stone a chance to overhaul the screenplay, but Stone - who was still reeling from the box office disappointment of his film, The Hand (1981), wasn't interested.

"I didn't like the original movie that much," Stone told Creative Screenwriting. "It didn't really hit me at all and I had no desire to make another Italian gangster picture because so many had been done so well, there would be no point to it.

The origin of it, according to Martin Bregman, [was that] Al had seen the '30s version on television, he loved it and expressed to Marty as his long-time mentor/partner that he'd like to do a role like that. So Marty presented it to me and I had no interest in doing a period piece." Sidney Lumet was the first choice to direct this film, and it was his idea to make the characters Cuban and to include the 1980 Mariel harbor boat lift in the story.

"Sidney Lumet came up with the idea of what's happening today in Miami, and it inspired Bregman," Pacino told Empire Magazine. "He and Oliver Stone got together and produced a script that had a lot of energy and was very well written. Stone was writing about stuff that was touching on things that were going on in the world, he was in touch with that energy and that rage and that underbelly."

"Sidney Lumet had stepped into the deal," Stone said. "Sidney had a great idea to take the 1930s American prohibition gangster movie and make it into a modern immigrant gangster movie dealing with the same problems that we had then, that we're prohibiting drugs instead of alcohol. There's a prohibition against drugs that's created the same criminal class as (prohibition of alcohol) created the Mafia. It was a remarkable idea."

Although Lumet's involvement was what lured Stone into the project, when Bregman contacted Stone again about the project later, his opinion changed. According to Stone: "Sidney Lumet hated my script. I don't know if he'd say that in public himself, I sound like a petulant screenwriter saying that, I'd rather not say that word. Let me say that Sidney did not understand my script, whereas Bregman wanted to continue in that direction with Al."
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The picture was shot for 24 weeks from November 22, 1982 to May 6, 1983.
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At 1hr 57mins one of Tony's men brags about once working with Marlon Brando on a movie. This is an obvious allusion to The Godfather, in which Al Pacino played Brando's son, Michael Corleone.
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The original idea was to make this film a remake of Scarface (1932), which took place in Chicago, but this proved to be impossible due to budget constraints.
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Lana Clarkson is credited as one of the women in the Babylon Club scene, which features an intense gunfight. Twenty years later in 2003, she would be shot to death by legendary music producer Phil Spector at his home in Los Angeles. Al Pacino portrayed Spector in Phil Spector (2013).
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In creating the Freedom Town sequence, Brian De Palma and visual consultant Ferdinando Scarfiotti researched actual events and found that in 1980, newly arrived Marielitos were housed in a hastily constructed camp beneath a Miami freeway. For the movie, the camp was erected in Los Angeles, beneath the intersection of the Santa Monica and Harbour freeways. The final riot in Freedom town called for some linguistic agility, as many of the six hundred extras spoke Spanish; thus safety required careful translation prior to each set-up.
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Al Pacino used Meryl Streep's portrayal of an immigrant in Sophie's Choice (1982) as inspiration for his portrayal of Tony.
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The entertainment industry initially hated the film, with Liza Minnelli asking Al Pacino what he had done to leave the insiders subdued at a post-screening meal. (Minnelli had not seen the film at the time.) However, during the meal, Eddie Murphy told Pacino that he loved the film.
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The film is a major influence behind the Grand Theft Auto (1997) (Video Game) franchise and in particular Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002).
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In the film, Tony buys a Porsche to impress Elvira. In the original script, he buys a red Jaguar.
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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.
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The Spanish title of the film, "El Precio del Poder", literally translates to "The Price of Power".
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Al Pacino wanted Glenn Close to play Elvira, but the producers didn't think she was sexy enough.
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One of the last four-track magnetic stereo releases (if not the last).
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Steven Bauer and Mark Margolis both also star in Breaking Bad (2008) and Better Call Saul (2015).
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One of the incorrect stories regarding the film's battle with the MPAA over the initial X rating it received and the (ultimately successful) effort to be given an R rating instead is that the infamous "chainsaw scene" had to be heavily edited because it was the major focus of the ratings board's issues over the film's violence and gore. In fact, Brian De Palma had always directed that scene to hint at a great deal more carnage than he actually showed (he once said that the shower scene in Psycho (1960) was a main inspiration for this) and the only matter the MPAA cited was a very brief shot of a severed arm. In fact, De Palma hadn't intended for that image to be in the movie and made removing it his first cut when preparing the movie for its ratings appeal.
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This was the sixteenth highest-grossing film of 1983.
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Two of the songs played in the film--"Shake it Up" and "I'm Hot Tonight"--are performed by then-21-year-old Elizabeth Daily.
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Reportedly, John Travolta met with Al Pacino in New York in 1981 about appearing in this movie.
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David Rabe wrote an early draft of the script which was closer to the original film Scarface (1932).
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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 'Diddy' Combs and Eminem, claim this is their favorite film.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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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. Richard Nixon did in fact own the property next door to where Lopez' mansion was filmed.
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The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Al Pacino and F. Murray Abraham; and four Oscar nominees: Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia and Charles Durning.
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Tony Montana's Porsche is an early 928. Porsche produced various versions of the 928 from 1976 to 1995.
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In The Simpsons (1989) (TV Series) Homer Simpson quotes Tony Montana's famous "Money, Power, Women" speech when Marge Simpson goes into the backyard and finds Homer guarding a mountain of sugar with a baseball bat.
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Ranked #8 in Entertainment Weekly's "Top 50 Cult Films of All-Time."
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Lillian Michelson, an uncredited movie researcher from the 1960s to the early 2000s, did research for the drug gangs for the movie. She interviewed a retired drug boss, and a DEA agent, and one day visited with both at the same time, and neither knew anything about the other. She spoke with a drug lord who she described as 'a nice Jewish boy', who offered to send her his private jet and bring her down to Bolivia for some hands on experience in the drug world. Lillian went home and excitedly told her husband, Hollywood art director and production designer, Harold Michelson, 'Harold, I'm going to Bolivia!' The two had a heated fight, ending with Harold asking her, 'Don't you have an obligation to your children to stay alive?' She finally agreed not to go.
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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.
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In the bathtub scene, after Manny and Elvira leave, Tony says "Fly away pelican". Which, on the TV, are clearly flamingos.
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John Travolta was considered for the role of Manny Ribera (Tony Montana's pal).
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When Omar is being summarily executed by Sosa, you can see F. Murray Abraham's shoe falling off his foot from the helicopter.
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Tony breaks all the rules Frank tells him at the Babylon Club.
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The film is included on Roger Ebert's "Great Movies" list.
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While filming the final shootout scene at Tony's Mansion, Brian De Palma invited Steven Spielberg to the set. Having wanted to collaborate with Spielberg on a project for years, De Palma allowed him to co-direct the climax sequence. Spielberg ultimately choose to be uncredited as he wanted 'Scarface' to be solely De Palma's vision.
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In the opening interrogation scene, Tony is interviewed by an actor whose voice is heavily dubbed by Charles Durning, who played opposite Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon (1975).
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Alejandro Sosa is based on Roberto Suarez (1933 - 2000) a real life Bolivian drug lord and trafficker who played a major role in the expansion of cocaine trafficking in Bolivia.
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The film stayed number one at the British box-office for three consecutive weeks from February 11, 1984 until March 3, 1984 and became the 15th highest-grossing film in Britain in 1984.
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During the scene in Elvira's condo, and after Frank Lopez's failed assassination attempt on Tony, he looks up at a blimp which reads "the world is yours . . . Pan Am airlines". It should be noted that Scarface (1932) was produced by Howard Hughes who was majority shareholder and investor of Transworld Airlines, a notable competitor of Pan Am.
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Edward James Olmos turned down a role.
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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".
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Kristy McNichol reportedly wanted the role of Elvira, but Brian De Palma turned her down.
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The song "Dance Dance Dance" was performed by Beth Anderson, who later provided the background vocals for the theme from The NeverEnding Story (1984), which was also composed by Giorgio Moroder.
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In the scene outside the Porsche boutique, as Tony enters in the Cadillac, moving from a medium shot to a close up, there's a reverse dolly zoom shot in the transition; you can tell from the more compressed car in the background.
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Ben Key was approached for a role, but he turned it down. Key has later stated that it was the worst mistake of his career.
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The pro wrestler Eddie Guerrero had a T-shirt that was modeled on the poster. On the front it said "Latino Heat" (Guerrero's nickname) and on the back it said, "Addicted To The Heat."
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The first of two movies where Steven Bauer plays a drug dealer. He would do so again in Traffic (2000).
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To help with his portrayal, Al Pacino asked Director of Photography John A. Alonzo (who spend part of childhood in Mexico) to speak to him only in Spanish.
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More than 35 years after this film's release, posters and images from the film are still available for sale at U.S. retailers.
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The rapper Young Bleed titled his 1991 album "My Balls & My Word" after the line, "All I have in this world is my balls and my word, and I don't break 'em for no one."
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F. Murray Abraham and Al Pacino also starred in Serpico (1973)
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In the narrative behind why Tony didn't kill the 2 children: Tony lives by a code and he doesn't kill innocent people because it would look bad on his reputation and he likes children and he doesn't want the blood of innocent children on his conscience and that the unjust murders of innocent people goes way too far for him and he didn't want to be a heartless child killer. Tony only kills those who mess with him and kills those who he is hired to kill.
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The rapper Scarface sampled the line "All I have in this world" for the song "Mr. Scarface" from his 1991 album "Mr. Scarface Is Back." A variation of the song was released with the Geto Boys 1989 album Grip It! On That Other Level and the 1990 Geto Boys album released by Def American when Scarface was signed to the Geto Boys with its members Willie D and Bushwick Bill.
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A recreation of the painting of Tony and Elvira which is unveiled in the "Push It To The Limit" sequence and is also briefly shown in the final shootout scene between Tony and Sosa's hitmen towards the end of the movie, is shown in an episode of season #2 of the multi-season "narconovela", "El Senor De Los Cielos"(The Lord of the Skies) which has been shown on Telemundo for the past few years. Instead of Tony and Elvira in the painting, it's of Victor Casillas "La Chacorta" who is the brother and underboss of Aurelio Casillas (Rafael Amaya) and who is portrayed by Mexican actor Raul Mendez (Narcos, La Viuda Negra II) and his wife Matilde who is portrayed by Colombian actress Sara Corrales (El Clon, Despertar Contigo). Just like the original painting in Scarface, this version of the painting in this series is briefly shown as well.
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[1:44:19]The location for Montana Management Co. was also shown in the background of a car chase scene in Armed and Dangerous (1986). Both movies starred Robert Loggia.
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Tony's reference to "my little friend" when describing his tricked-out assault-weapon is also a reference to his drug-addiction --- this term is often used to refer to a bad habit, personal weakness, or irritating problem/situation; it is often jokingly described as an "invisible friend", just as the famous "little man upon the stair" refers to the poet's having mood/concentration-altering hypoglycemia. Or for another "classic" example, if a machine has an intermittent malfunction and/or sometimes produces an inexplicable noise/vibration/odor, the operators will say, "Our little friend is back" whenever the issue occurs.
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The first name actor who plays Chi-Chi (Ángel Salazar) is the same as the character played by Pepe Serna: Ángel.
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Glenn Close was the original choice for the role, while others were also considered, including Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher, Kelly McGillis, Sylvia Kristel, Sharon Stone, and Sigourney Weaver.
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Al Pacino and F. Murray Abraham previously costarred in "Serpico" ten years earlier.
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Certain elements of Giorgio Moroder's selection of songs on the soundtrack, sound extremely similar to some of the songs used in his soundtrack for the following years' Virgin Films title "Electric Dreams" (1984), now part of the ("new") post-1986 MGM film library.
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Michael (Nick The Pig ) Moran lived for another 20 years 9 weeks and 2 days (2/4/2004) after the December 1, 1983 premire of Scarface.
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This first of two movies with Harris Yulin (Bernstein, the crooked cop) about drug trafficking. He would do so again in Clear and Present Danger (1994). It was also his first of two movies about police corruption. He would do so again in Training Day (2001).
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Everything that Frank tells Tony about Sosa turns out to be true.
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There's one shot near the end of the movie of a henchman tossing a grappling hook onto the top of Tony's mansion. Believe it or not, that one shot was actually directed by Steven Spielberg, who was visiting the set at the time.
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The only main characters who survive the film are all enemies of Tony Montana, except Elvira and Tony's mother, mama Montana.
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When Tony Montana dies, the globe says, "The World is Yours", which is what flashed on a billboard when Tony Camonte (Paul Muni) died in the original Scarface (1932), as well as what the blimp displays in a previous scene.
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For all the love and desire that Tony professes to have for Elvira, you never actually see them kiss or have any type of physical intimacy. He tries to forcibly kiss her in the car, where she stops him and backs him off. Then, even during their wedding ceremony, you don't actually see them kiss, although it is simulated and obscured by her veil and a fake "Hollywood movie kiss". That's about as close as they get to any resemblance of intimacy.
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There was a video game based on the movie that was released in 2007 entitled "Scarface: The World is Yours". The game is a sequel to the film which Tony Montana survives the mansion shootout with Sosa's army of hitmen and he sets out to rebuild his cocaine empire and seek revenge upon Sosa.
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The narrative behind Tony killing Manny: Manny broke the promise that he made to Tony, that he wouldn't mess around or get sexually involved with Gina. Tony wanted a better life for his sister, and was fiercely protective of her. It had not occurred to Manny that Tony's disapproval would include his marrying Gina, which in itself was a far more respectful relationship than Tony imagined Manny wanting.
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Frank telling Tony that Sosa will send a hit squad to kill him in the scene which Tony tells Frank about their new deal with Sosa foreshadows the movie's ending.
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See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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