“Me, I want what’s coming to me.”
“Well, what’s coming to you Tony?”
“The world Chico…and everything in it”
Upon its release in 1983, Scarface was hailed by some and reviled by many. The violence, profanity, drug use, and themes were shocking at the time and almost caused the film to be slapped with an X rating. Like other films far ahead of their time, it took a few years for Scarface to find its place within our cultural iconography, but when it did, it was clear that writer Oliver Stone and director Brian De Palma had remade a classic gangster movie into a widely-influential modern crime classic as well as a commentary on capitalism and the American Dream.
Cuban immigrants Tony Montana (Al Pacino) and Manolo “Manny” Rivera (Steven Bauer) come to Miami with the hope of fulfilling the American Dream. Taken under the wing of drug kingpin Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia) they begin to make a name for themselves in the drug trade, selling and trafficking cocaine. As Tony gains the money and the power he’s always desired, his greed starts to destroy everything else in his life. His friendship with Manny, his marriage to Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer), his relationship with his sister Gina (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) and any business partnerships he’s built all suffer greatly. As Tony’s greed grows, it spreads and infects all those around him and the tragic consequences play out as a Shakespearian crime drama.
The genius of Scarface is multilayered. Stone’s script, De Palma’s direction and the performances all play a part in the movie’s greatness. But perhaps it’s the function of the movie as a satire of capitalism and greed as well as the American Dream that bumps Scarface into all-time classic status.
The hyper-realistic story of Tony Montana, his meteoric rise to both power and excess, and his disastrously astounding self-destructive fall, play out as shocking, tragic, and at times funny. We watch as his money and power grow along with his greed, eventually Tony becomes totally and utterly consumed by this insatiable greed, losing any sense of why he wanted the money and power in the first place.
Pacino delivers one of his absolute classic performances. The satirical and hyper-real nature of the story allows him to swing for the fences and make Tony Montana a larger-than-life character. To this day Tony Montana is one of the most memorable and fascinating characters in cinema history. Bauer brings balance to Tony’s world as the calm and cool Manny. The more paranoid Tony gets, the more even-keeled Manny seems to be, in many ways he’s Tony’s better half. Pfeiffer, Mastrantonio, and Loggia all deliver strong memorable performances. F. Murray Abraham, Mark Margolis, Harris Yulin, Miriam Colon, Paul Shenar, and Angel Salazar are also all given moments to shine in supporting roles.
Scarface ranks as one of the more quotable films in existence. Stone’s script combined with Pacino’s delivery has made for a number of classic scenes and lines. From the hilarious over-sized bubble-bath scene where Tony demands Manny to “look at this, pelicans fly, c’mon pelicans” (they’re watching flamingos) to lines that give us great insight into Tony’s character and code, and of course the famous line that has been parodied to death over the years (“Say hello to my little friend!”).
It’s De Palma’s deft handling of both the over-the-top, violent sequences as well as the quieter, character-driven moments that help build the tension and suspense throughout the film, helping to create these classic movie scenes.
Over the years, much has been said and written about Tony’s thirst for excess, his feeling that he never has enough is what ends up being his downfall. This is of course true, but when you look at it, in the end it’s actually Tony’s last shred of humanity and integrity that ultimately seals his fate. By showing care for others and refusing to break his own code (as warped as it may be) Tony ends up signing his own death warrant. It’s this stroke of story-telling genius that slides in under all the excess and gives Scarface that extra tragic twist, creating a film that has become even more of a classic than the 1932 original it’s based upon. Scarface has been influencing artists, from filmmakers to hip-hop, for almost thirty years, with this excellent new Blu-Ray release, it’s clear that it is a film that will continue it’s reign of influence for a long time to come.
The HD transfer on this Blu-Ray makes for a better looking version of Scarface than we’ve ever seen before. Details like Tony’s scar are much more prominent in HD. The transfer is so good in fact that it has made some mistakes stand out more. When Tony is arguing with Gina and his mother in the kitchen, watch for the very visible shadow of a wandering crew member pass along the bottom right corner.
Scarface is a must-own classic for any film fan and this Blu-Ray release is a worthy addition to your movie collection.
Blu-Ray Special Features
- Limited Edition SteelBook Packaging
- Digital Copy
- The original 1932 Scarface on DVD
- The Scarface Phenomenon- A three part documentary on the film’s production, release, and cultural influence.
- Deleted Scenes
- The World of Tony Montana
- The Creating
- The Rebirth
- The Acting
- Scarface: The TV Version (Allows viewers to watch the Edited for TV version of scenes)
- U-Control Features and BD-Live Functionality
“Say good-night to the bad guy!”