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Scarface is a 1983 epic crime drama film directed by Brian De Palma, written by Oliver Stone, and starring Al Pacino as Tony Montana. Based on Howard Hawks' original 1932 film of the same name, the film tells the story of a fictional Cubanmarker refugee who comes to Floridamarker in 1980 as a result of the Mariel Boatlift. Montana becomes a gangster against the backdrop of the 1980s cocaine boom. The film chronicles his rise to the top of Miamimarker's criminal underworld and subsequent downfall in tragic Greek fashion.

The film is dedicated to Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht, who were the writers of the original 1932 film.

The critical response to Scarface was positive even though the film received criticism for its violence and graphic language. Despite this, it did well at the box office and has since gathered a phenomenal cult following. The film has become an important cultural icon, inspiring posters, clothing, and many other references. The film's grainy black and white poster is a very popular decoration and is still in production, and as a result of its popularity has been parodied many times.


The opening scenes show Cuban Tony Montana (Al Pacino) as one of the 125,000 Cubans who immigrated to Miami, Floridamarker in the Mariel Boatlift, and one of at least 25,000 who has a criminal record. He is interrogated by three tough-talking immigration officers over his life in Cuba. He and his best friend and former Cuban Army buddy Manolo "Manny" Ribera (Steven Bauer) are met with resistance, particularly because of their criminal records, and are placed in "Freedom Town", a camp under the I-95 freeway where Cuban refugees without green cards are kept. A month later, Manny makes Tony aware of a deal in which a wealthy man named Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia), can give them access to the cards needed, in exchange for the murder of a former Cuban security agent named Emilio Rebenga. Tony happily complies, stabbing and killing Rebenga during a riot, and they receive their residency.

Over the next few weeks, Tony and Manny begin working in a small Cuban food stand, but Tony soon grows restless. One evening they meet with drug dealer Omar Suarez (F. Murray Abraham), who made them the Rebenga deal, for another job. Omar wants to unload a boat from Mexico containing 500 kilograms of marijuana and offers to pay them $500 each. Tony demands more, and after a brief but violent argument, Omar offers them $5,000 each for buying two kilograms of cocaine worth $25,000 apiece from Colombianmarker dealers.

A few days later, Tony and Manny, along with two other Cuban associates whom they met in Freedom Town, Angel (Pepe Serna) and Chi Chi (Ángel Salazar), drive to the Sunray Motel in Miami Beach for the drug deal. While Chi Chi and Manny wait in the car, Tony and Angel go to the hotel room and meet with the Colombian drug dealer Hector the Toad. The transaction is revealed to be a rip-off when the Colombians pull guns and demand that Tony hand over the money. Tony refuses, prompting Hector to threaten him with a chainsaw and going as far as chopping Angel to pieces in front of Tony. After a gunfight in which they kill Hector and his associates, Tony, Manny, and Chi Chi leave with the cocaine and the money. Tony takes them to Frank personally, already distrusting Omar. Frank, an affable, gregarious man, takes a shine to Tony immediately, impressed by his sense of humor and bold attitude. Tony secretly tells Manny that Frank may be too "soft" to be a major player for too long. Tony and Manny end up getting a job under Frank in the drug-dealing business. Meanwhile, Tony takes an interest in Frank's girlfriend, Elvira Hancock (Michelle Pfeiffer). Frank takes Tony, Manny and his associates out to the Babylon Nightclub which Frank frequents. While Tony flirts with Elvira, going so far as to purchase a Porsche 928 to impress her, she shows no interest in him.

Three months later, Tony pays a visit to his estranged family's home. It is implied that Tony's father, a U.S. Navy sailor, walked out on the family years ago, but his mother Georgina Montana (Míriam Colón) and his younger sister Gina (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) are home. Gina is excited to see Tony after his five years of absence, while his mother is not thrilled, aware and ashamed of his criminal life. His mother angrily rejects a $1,000 gift, demanding Tony leave her and Gina alone. Tony leaves, but Gina runs after him and he slips her the $1,000 secretly. Ladies' man Manny is awestruck with Gina's beauty, but Tony angrily warns him against attempting to court her.

Some time later, in Boliviamarker, Tony and Omar begin discussing business with drug kingpin Alejandro Sosa (Paul Shenar) on behalf of Frank. Tony begins making major decisions about distribution of the drugs, angering Omar who believes he had no such authority. Sosa offers Omar a quick helicopter ride back home to talk over the transaction with Frank. However, Sosa then orders his henchmen, Alberto and the Skull, to kill Omar, explaining to Tony that he was allegedly a police informant some years ago. On the other hand, Sosa believes that Tony is trustworthy and makes him one of his business partners. After returning to Florida, Tony comes under heat from Frank, who is furious over both Omar's death, and Tony's major deals without his authorization. Frank warns Tony that Sosa is not to be trusted. Tony and Frank end their business relationship, while Tony begins making bolder passes at Elvira.

At the Babylon nightclub, Tony is shaken down by a corrupt Miami narcotics detective, Mel Bernstein (Harris Yulin). He proposes to "tax" Tony on his transactions in return for police protection and information. Tony is convinced Frank sent Bernstein to shake him down because only he would know details about the shootout at the Sunray Motel. Tony is then distracted by the sight of his sister Gina dancing and making out with a low-level drug dealer. He attacks the man and berates Gina, who angrily tells Tony she is old enough to do whatever she wants. Manny proceeds to drive Gina home, telling her that she deserves better. When Gina compliments Manolo for being a gentleman to her and admitting an interest in him, Manny says he could get in trouble with Tony.

Meanwhile at the Babylon, Tony is suddenly attacked by two hitmen. Tony manages to escape the gunfire and suspects that Frank was responsible. Tony instructs one of his men, named Nick the Pig, to call Frank at exactly 3 a.m. with a message implying that Frank was responsible for the hit. Tony and Manny then find Frank in the middle of a meeting with Bernstein. At 3 a.m., Frank receives the call, and instead of expressing confusion as he should if he were innocent, he attempts to mislead Tony about the content of the call, thus confirming Tony's suspicions. Tony and Manny then kill Frank and Bernstein. Afterwards, Tony finds Elvira, telling her to come with him. Stepping out onto Elvira's balcony, Tony looks into the sky and sees a blimp with the words "The World is Yours".

As time proceeds, Tony marries Elvira, takes over Frank's empire and becomes wealthy. He purchases a huge mansion, makes Manny his second-in-command, and has all the wealth beyond his dreams. However, cracks in Tony's "perfect life" begin to form as both he and Elvira become heavily addicted to cocaine and begin to drift apart. Tony becomes paranoid and mistrustful of those around him, and greedy and stingy with his wealth. Eventually Elvira becomes tired of the dealer lifestyle, and leaves Tony.

Soon the president of the local bank wants higher fees in order to launder Tony's illegally gotten cash. Tony is arrested for money laundering (1.3 million dollars) and tax evasion by Mel Seidelbaum, a police officer posing as a local money launderer. Tony's lawyer tells him that although he can plea bargain away most of the prison time, Tony will still end up doing three years. Sosa calls Tony down to Bolivia and asks him for help assassinating a Bolivian anti-government activist who is exposing Sosa's dealings with Bolivian leaders (and Washington, D.C.marker) on television. In return, Sosa's contacts will ensure that there will be no prison time for Tony. Tony is reluctant, as he has no interest in killing anyone who never wronged him personally, but agrees to the deal.

Alberto travels to New York where he plants a bomb under the activist's car, planning to detonate it before he drives to the United Nations building to give a speech. The plan goes amiss as the activist's wife and children unexpectedly get in the car as well. Tony, panicked and disgusted at the idea of killing innocent children, calls off the operation, but Alberto ignores him, and as he is about to set the bomb off, Tony shoots him in the head killing him.

Tony returns to Florida to find his mother upset over Gina's new, "corrupted" life; while a furious Sosa phones Tony, threatening him for going back on the deal. Tony goes to find Gina, and sees her and Manny together in night robes at Manny's house. He shoots and kills Manny in a fit of anger before Gina can reveal that the couple have just been married. Tony and his men take a distraught Gina back to his mansion. Meanwhile, a large group of hitmen surrounds Tony's mansion. As Tony sits in his office in sorrow for killing his only true friend, and snorting a huge pile of cocaine, the gunmen penetrate the defenses.

Gina enters Tony's office wielding a gun, accusing Tony of being jealous of the men in her life, before shooting and wounding Tony in the leg. One of the hitmen enters the office through the window and kills Gina, and is in turn killed by Tony. Robbed of the element of surprise, Sosa's gunmen launch an all-out assault on Tony's mansion. In a cocaine-fueled rage, Tony bursts from his office, armed with an M-16 assault rifle with an M-203 40mm grenade launcher attachment, and begins shooting wildly at the attacking henchmen, killing dozens of them despite being mortally wounded. But after a few minutes of gunplay, the Skull finishes him off with a shotgun from the back. Tony falls from the balcony into a small pool in the lobby below, beneath a statue carrying the inscription "The World Is Yours".



Scarface held its premiere on December 1st, 1983 in New York Citymarker where it was initially greeted with mixed reaction. Among those in attendance were the film's two stars, Al Pacino and Steven Bauer, as well as Burt and Diane Lane, Melanie Griffith, Raquel Welch, Joan Collins; her then-boyfriend Peter Holm and Eddie Murphy among others . According to AMC's "DVD TV: Much More Movie" airing: Cher loved it, Lucille Ball, who came with her family, hated it because of the graphic violence and language, and Dustin Hoffman was said to have fallen asleep. Writers Kurt Vonnegut 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 behind 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" . Scarface, upon its first release, drew controversy regarding the violence and graphic language in the film, and received many negative reviews from movie critics. Despite this, the film grossed $65 million worldwide, and has since gathered a large following. Today, if that gross were adjusted for inflation, it would probably be around $180 million. On the 2-Disc Special Edition, the film's producer, Martin Bregman said that the film was well received by only one notable critic, Vincent Canby of The New York Times. However, Roger Ebert rated it four stars out of four in his 1983 review and he later added it to his "Great Movies" list.


Scarface was given an X rating 3 times (original, 2nd, and 3rd cuts) for extreme violence, excessive strong language and hard drug usage. Director Brian De Palma pulled in a panel of experts, including real narcotics officers, stating that the film was an accurate portrayal of the real-life drug underworld and should be widely seen. This convinced the 20 members of the ratings board to give the 3rd cut an "R" rating by a vote of 18 to 2. DePalma later asked the studio if he could release the original director's cut, but was told that he couldn't. However, since the studio executives really didn't know the differences between the three submitted cuts, DePalma released the director's cut to theaters anyway with an unapproved "R". The director's cut is the only version seen today on DVD.

Box office

Scarface was released on December 9, 1983 in 997 theaters, grossing USD $4.6 million in its opening weekend despite drawing controversy regarding the violence and graphic language in the film and received mixed reviews from film critics. The film went on to make $45.4 million in North America and $20.5 million in the rest of the world for a worldwide total of $65.9 million. Today (2009), if that gross were adjusted for inflation, it would be approximately $141 million.


Roger Ebert rated it four stars out of four in his 1983 review and wrote, "DePalma and his writer, Oliver Stone, have created a gallery of specific individuals, and one of the fascinations of the movie is that we aren't watching crime-movie clichés, we're watching people who are criminals". He later added it to his "Great Movies" list. Vincent Canby also praised the film in his review for the New York Times: "Yet the dominant mood of the film is anything but funny. It is bleak and futile: What goes up must always come down. When it comes down in Scarface, the crash is as terrifying as it is vivid and arresting".

In his review for Newsweek, David Ansen wrote, "If Scarface makes you shudder, it's from what you think you see and from the accumulated tension of this feral landscape. It's a grand, shallow, decadent entertainment, which like all good Hollywood gangster movies delivers the punch and counterpunch of glamour and disgust". Jay Scott, in his review for the Globe and Mail, writes, "For a while, Al Pacino is hypnotic as Montana. But the effort expended on the flawless Cuban accent and the attempts to flesh out a character cut from inch-thick cardboard are hopeless". In his review for the Washington Post, Gary Arnold wrote, "A movie that appeared intent on revealing an alarmingly contemporary criminal subculture gradually reverts to underworld cliche, covering its derivative tracks with outrageous decor and an apocalyptic, production number finale, ingeniously choreographed to leave the antihero floating face down in a literal bloodbath".

Pacino earned nomination for Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama. However, DePalma was nominated for, but did not win, a Razzie Award for Worst Director.


In June 2008, the American Film Institute revealed its "Ten Top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Scarface was acknowledged as the tenth best in the gangster film genre. Also the "Say hello to my little friend!" line took 61st place as the most famous quote on the list AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes. Entertainment Weekly ranked the film #8 on their list of "The Top 50 Cult Films".



Scarface was initially released by MCA Home Video on VHS and Beta in the summer of 1984; a two-tape set in 1.33:1 Pan and scan ratio and quickly became a bestseller, preluding its cult status. A 2.35:1 Widescreen VHS would follow years later in 1998 to coincide with the special edition DVD release. The last and most recent VHS release was in 2003 to counterpart the 20th anniversary edition DVD.


Scarface has been released on DVD four times in the United States as of 2007.

The first was released by Universal Studios Home Entertainment on the film's 15th anniversary in 1998 under the studio's "Collector's Edition" line. The DVD featured a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround, a "Making of" documentary, outtakes, production notes and cast & crew bios. This release was not successful, and many fans and reviewers complained about its unwatchable video transfer and muddled sound, describing it as "one of the worst big studio releases out there".

This DVD quietly went out of print, subsequently fetching outrageous prices on secondhand sites such as eBay. In 2003, Universal released a remastered two disc "Anniversary Edition" to coincide with the film's 20th anniversary re-release, featuring two documentaries — one re-edited from the last release to include new interviews with Steven Bauer (Manny Ray) and another produced by Def Jam Recordings featuring interviews with various rappers on the film's cult success in the hip-hop world and other extras ported over from the previous DVD. New to this edition was a 2.35:1 Anamorphic widescreen transfer and 5.1 surround sound in both Dolby Digital and DTS.

The limited theatrical re-release also boasted a remastered soundtrack with enhanced sound effects and music but the DVD's 5.1 tracks were mixed from the film's original audio, resulting in noticeably limited frequency and surround effects. A limited edition box set was also released featuring a gold money clip, production stills, lobby cards, and a DVD of the original Scarface. In 2005 Universal released a single disc 'movie only' version of the Anniversary Edition with deleted scenes as the sole bonus feature.

In the fall of 2006 Universal released 'movie in a two-disc "Platinum Edition" featuring the remastered audio from the theatrical re-release in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround. Most of the extras (with the exception of the Def Jam documentary, production notes, and cast & crew bios) from the Anniversary Edition were also included along with two new featurettes regarding the new video game and the criminal and cultural world of Miami in the 1980s.

Spanish language title

When released in Spain, the film was titled El Precio del Poder (The Price of Power). The US and Latin American editions of the DVD feature a Spanish language track, but gives the title as Caracortada (Spanish for "Cutface", a literal translation of "Scarface" into Spanish is "Cara de cicatriz").

Pop culture


The music in Scarface was produced by Academy Award winning Italian record producer Giorgio Moroder. Like Moroder's style, the soundtrack consists mostly of synthesized new wave, electronic music.

Video games

A licensed video game, Scarface: The World Is Yours, was released in September and October 2006 as well as an update in June 2007, developed by Radical Entertainment and published by Vivendi Universal Games. The game is a sequel, and goes on the premise that Tony actually survived the raid on his mansion at the end of the film. Wii, PS2, Xbox, and PC versions have been released.

Radical and Vivendi also released a second licensed video game, Scarface: Money, Power, Respect, in October 2006. The game is much like Scarface: The World is Yours, but one main difference is that the second game deals more with the controlling of drugs and managing of the Montana cocaine empire and turf, whereas The World is Yours is mostly focused on getting rid of gangs, gaining respect and overall reconstruction of the empire. To date, only a PSP version of this game has been released.

The hit game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City also has some homages to Scarface, like an area with the famous bloody bathroom in an empty apartment, along with a chainsaw that can be used as a weapon. Also the Malibu Club is very similar to the Babylon Club. In the beginning of the game, Tommy Vercetti's drug deal gets busted, much like the coke deal that Tony gets double crossed in. There is also a mission in the game where Tommy and his partner Lance Vance kill Tommy's cocaine-dealing boss Ricardo Diaz, much like when Tony and Manny kill Frank. Ricardo Diaz's office is virtually identical to Tony's office in the movie, including the black walls and the series of security camera monitors (and if looked at closely, are revealed to be pictures of Tony's Mansion) , and the huge front hall of Diaz's mansion is also very similar to Tony's in the movie, including the deep red walls. Finally, the last mission of the game ("Keep Your Friends Close...") is a slight spin-off of the final scene in Scarface. In this mission, Tommy has to fend off a whole rival gang in his mansion with only a few weapons. The only difference, however, is that Tommy lives through the fight with Ken Rosenberg to start "a new business relationship."

One of the targets in the game Hitman: Codename 47, Pablo Belisario Ochoa, a Colombian drug lord, is heavily based on Tony Montana

Books and comics

Dark Horse Comics' imprint, DH Press, released a novel called Scarface: The Beginning by L. A. Banks.

Television and film

In 2001, plans were set into motion for hip hop artist Cuban Link to write and star in a sequel to Scarface entitled Son of Tony. The plans for a prospective sequel drew both praise as well as criticism, and after several years Cuban Link had expressed that he may no longer be involved with the project as the result of movie rights issues and creative control.

Notably, the animated series The Boondocks features an image of one of the main characters, Riley, imitating the classic "Scarface" poster.

USA Network announced in 2003 they would be producing a mini-series based on the movie; however, the series' current status is unknown.


While filming the final shooting scene, it is shown in the movie that the camera had filmed outside the required parameter and showed part of the outside shooting set that represented the hall of Tony Montana's home.


  3. Dark Horse Comics > Profile > Scarface Vol. 1: The Beginning
  4. DH Press Books : Current Titles

External links

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