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Scarface, Directed by Brian De Palma

Universal Pictures, December 9, 1983 (US)

Screenplay: Oliver Stone

Starring: Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, F. Murray Abraham, and Robert Loggia

Welcome to Miami. A straight shot from Castro’s control to the palm tree Mojito promise of a better life.

Tony Montana (Al Pacino): Are you a communist? How would you like it if they tell you what to do, what to think, what to feel?

Welcome to freedom.

Tony: I kill communists for fun. But for a green card, I’ll carve him up real nice.

Welcome to the rise and the fall. It begins with that first taste. Lick those lips. Whet the appetite. The floodgates burst open letting in a raging sea of green.

Manny Ribera (Steven Bauer): That’s style. Flash. Pizzazz … the look of money never hurt nobody.

Starving, you reach out for your piece.

Tony: You gotta make the money. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, you get the girl.

Welcome to the American Dream, Cuban style. A puff of the cigar, a tap to flick away the ashes. Gotta start somewhere, so how about dishwashing for a buck under the pink and green neon glow of ghetto fabulous? It’s okay. It’s a start. Only the beginning. Land of the free. Land of options. You won’t be a bottom feeder long if you can keep your head on semi-straight and play by a few tried and true rules.

Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia): Lesson number one: Don’t underestimate the other guy’s greed.

Elvira Hancock (Michelle Pfeiffer): Lesson number two: Don’t get high on your own supply.

Welcome to the De Palma experience. It starts with his indelible imprint, that deliciously absorbing look and feel that lets the viewer watch a story develop from overview to detail via long tracking shots that slither through scene-by-suspense-building-scene. The style is an homage to Hitchcock, but De Palma is no copycat. This is not emulation but rather a celebration. It is big. As in HUGE. And here it is an epic rags to riches story that commands every last inch of the screen as De Palma films routinely do. It hijacks the theater in a machine gun, chainsaw-revving fury. Front and center is a riveting performance by Al Pacino, as mind-blowing as a midnight eight-ball. Spread it on the gums and feel it real good.

Tony: You be happy. Me, I want what’s coming to me.

Manny: Yeah, what’s coming to you Tony.

Tony: The world, Chico. And everything in it.

You can’t go back now, baby. Power breeds power. The world is yours. As it should be. There is nothing you can’t do. Nothing you can’t have. Nothing.

Elvira: Who, why, when, and how I fuck is none of your business, okay?

Tony: Now you’re talking to me baby, the way I like. Keep it coming.

Elvira: Don’t call me your ‘baby.’ I’m not your ‘baby.’

Tony: Not yet, man. You gotta give me some time.

Elvira: Even if I were blind, desperate, starved, and stoned, begging for it on a desert island, you’d be the last thing I fucked.


Tony: She likes me.

Manny : She likes you? How do you know?

Tony: How do I know? The eyes. They never lie.

Welcome to the intoxicating, unbreakable spirit of a lowly street thug with a pocketful of Cuban pride and a creed to live by. A man’s word is golden. Beyond that, anything goes.

Tony: What are you looking at? What are you lookin’ at? You’re all a bunch of fucking assholes. You know why? You don’t have the guts to be what you want to be. You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fucking fingers and say, ‘that’s the bad guy.’ So what does that make you? Good? You’re not good. You just know how to hide a lie. Me? I don’t have that card. Me? I always tell the truth … even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy.

Welcome to the carnival. Wow, what a fucking ride! Top of the world, Ma, Salt & Pepper Shaker style! Oh, the glory of it all. To be Top Dog. Towering over an impervious empire. Before the laws of gravity make their play. Before everything changes. What goes up must come down. An inevitable descent into heaping white piles of demon powder and tweaked-out greed. Down, down, down, in a blaze of fucked-up glory. Say hello to my little friend. Let it come down!

Okay, okay, so what is so inspiring or redeeming about a film that celebrates the life of a greedy, petty criminal-turned-dope-fiend-drug lord?

Well, we’re all human after all, and in the end, who the hell doesn’t enjoy rooting for the underdog?

Welcome to reality.