Switching booze for cocaine and transposing the action from Chicago to Miami, Scarface updates the Howard Hawks/Howard Hughes gangster movie from 1932 and delivers an iconic piece of cinema which has now surpassed the original in terms of legacy.
Written by Oliver Stone, directed by Brian De Palma, and starring Al Pacino, the 1983 film follows Cuban refugee Tony Montana as he rises to the top of the illegal drugs industry in Miami during the early 1980s. It’s a story – and a film filled with excess. The general belief is that remakes are a very bad thing but Scarface proves that sometimes you can get great results if you spruce-up something old.
You were always going to get a bombastic movie once you combined De Palma, Stone and Al Pacino and Scarface doesn’t disappoint. It’s an epic piece of filmmaking, filled with energy and fulled with an excess which could only have been made at a certain juncture in time. Pacino is on energetic form, giving Tony Montana a swagger and paranoia that few could muster, while Michelle Pfeiffer also delivers in her break-out performance.
De Palma directs with his usual flair and bombast, using sweeping camera takes to deliver an operatic and glorious looking film which helped inspire the visual style Michael Mann’s Miami Vice. Giorgio Moroder’s sumptuous synth score perfectly complements the brilliant cinematography by John A. Alonzo – Scarface is filled with true cinematic artistry.
This image shows Brian De Palma directing Al Pacino during the film’s climatic moments – which features the iconic line – “Say hello to my little friend!”
Scarface grossed $45.5 million at the US box office and $66 million globally on its release in 1983.