AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Scarface
Director: Brian DePalma (Dir)
Release Date:   9 Dec 1983
Duration (in mins):  170
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Cast: Al Pacino  (Tony Montana)
  Steven Bauer  (Manny Ray)
  Michelle Pfeiffer  (Elvira [Hancock])
 

Summary: In 1980, Fidel Castro allows over 125,000 Cuban refugees to leave the country on boats headed to the United States. Arriving in Florida, Tony Montana, one of the refugees, is questioned by immigration officials. Believing Tony has a criminal history, they detain him and send him to Freedom Town, a refugee camp under a highway. After a month at the camp, Tony’s friend Manny Ray says that he’s found them a job that will earn them green cards and get them out of Freedom Town. A wealthy cocaine dealer named Frank Lopez wants them to assassinate Emilio Rebenga, a former Cuban politician who has just arrived at the camp. Tony agrees, telling Manny that he kills Communists “for fun.” One day, a riot breaks out in Freedom Town, and Manny, aided by a few others, corners Rebenga inside a tent. As the politician tries to escape, Tony stabs him. Later, Tony, Manny, and their accomplices, are awarded green cards and released from custody. In Miami, Tony and Manny work at a food stand where Omar Suarez, an underboss of Frank Lopez, visits them one night. Suarez offers Tony and Manny another job, unloading marijuana off of a boat from Mexico for 500 dollars each. Insulted by the offer, Tony demands more money, and Suarez offers them a better job – retrieving a shipment of Colombian cocaine. Soon after, Tony and Manny are joined by two of their accomplices from Freedom Town, Angel Fernandez and Chi Chi, as they head to a seedy, beachside hotel to pick up the cocaine. While Manny and Chi Chi wait in the car, Tony and Angel arrive at the hotel room of Hector the Toad. Tony becomes irritated when Hector is slow to exchange the cocaine, suspecting that the drug dealer only wants to steal the money Tony was given to purchase the drugs. Two of Hector’s men appear, attacking Angel from behind. Tony is held at gunpoint in the bathroom while Hector dismembers Angel with a chainsaw inside the shower. Manny and Chi Chi arrive just in time to save Tony, shooting down Hector’s henchmen. After Hector escapes through a window, Tony follows him outside and shoots him dead in the crowded street. As police sirens blare nearby, Tony, Chi Chi, and Manny escape with both the money and the cocaine. The next night, Suarez introduces Tony to his boss, Frank Lopez, the owner of the money that Tony recovered from the botched cocaine deal. Frank is impressed by Tony and hires him. Tony meets Frank’s girlfriend, Elvira Hancock, and is attracted to her. Frank takes Tony and Manny out to the decadent Babylon nightclub, and offers two lessons: “Lesson number one – don’t underestimate the other guy’s greed; and lesson number two – don’t get high on your own supply.” Tony dances with Elvira, who scorns him for being low-class. Later, he and Manny try to pick up women on the beach to no avail. Tony tells his friend that they need money and power before American women will take an interest in them. Later, Frank sends Tony and Manny to pick up Elvira, who doesn’t like their Cadillac with tiger-print seat covers. Tony insists they go to a car dealership immediately; there, he purchases an expensive sports car. Leaving Manny behind to work out the details with the car dealer, Tony snorts cocaine in the parking lot with Elvira, who warms to him. Later, Tony visits his estranged mother and sister at their house in a remote part of the city. Though he hasn’t contacted them in five years, Tony’s sister Gina is overjoyed to see him. Tony’s mother is more cautious, suspicious of his criminal lifestyle. When Tony offers them $1,000 in cash, his mother refuses the money, knowing it was earned illegally. Despite Gina’s objections, Tony’s mother disowns him. As he leaves, Gina follows Tony outside where Manny is waiting inside the car. Gina apologizes and expresses her own loyalty to her brother. Driving away, Manny tells Tony that Gina is beautiful, and Tony shouts at Manny to stay away from her. Tony later accompanies Suarez to Bolivia to meet with a drug lord named Alejandro Sosa on Frank’s behalf. During the visit, Sosa discovers that Suarez is a police informant. Sosa’s henchmen then murder Suarez by hanging him from a helicopter mid-air while Frank and Tony watch from the ground. Tony undermines Frank’s authority by negotiating a distribution deal with Sosa himself, and when he gets back, Frank is furious because he feels he cannot sell the large amount of cocaine to which Tony agreed. Defending his choice, Tony tells Frank that he needs to expand his operation to cities outside Miami. One day, Tony visits Frank’s house to see Elvira, and though she fears that Frank will catch them, Tony remains unconcerned. He tells Elvira that he likes her and wants to marry her, and suggests that Frank is finished. Later, Tony sees Gina dancing with a man at the Babylon and becomes enraged. Before he can approach her, Tony is approached by Mel Bernstein, a corrupt police detective. Bernstein accuses Tony of murdering Rebenga and Hector, and offers him police protection in exchange for money and information on rival drug dealers. Frank and Elvira arrive at the club, and Tony joins Elvira at her table as Bernstein leaves. Walking up to the table, Frank tells Tony to move, but Tony refuses, saying that Frank has no right to give him orders. After the confrontation, Frank and Elvira leave, and Tony returns his attention to Gina. As she and her dancing partner go into the men’s bathroom, Tony follows and finds them inside a stall, snorting cocaine. He grabs Gina’s friend and throws him out, then confronts his sister. Manny enters the bathroom and watches as Tony threatens and hits Gina. After Tony walks out, Manny comforts Gina, then drives her home. In the car, Gina expresses her attraction to Manny, but he firmly rejects her, knowing Tony would disapprove. Back at the club, Tony watches the stage show. When a spotlight hits Tony at his table, two assassins with machine guns suddenly open fire from across the room. Tony ducks under the table after taking a bullet to the shoulder, then shoots both of his attackers before fleeing the club. Believing Frank is behind the botched assassination attempt, Tony goes to his office and confirms that Frank ordered the hit. Sensing that Tony plans to kill him, Frank grovels at Tony’s feet, offering money and Elvira in exchange for his life. Tony orders Manny to shoot Frank, and turns his attention to Bernstein, who was meeting with Frank when he walked in. Tony shoots Bernstein twice. Covered in blood, he finds Elvira in the bedroom and tells her to pack her things and join him. Waiting for Elvira in the living room, Tony spots a blimp outside with a digital sign scrolling the message, “The world is yours.” Now the boss of Frank’s cocaine ring, Tony buys a mansion and marries Elvira. Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Tony, Manny and Gina are falling in love. With Tony in charge, the business flourishes, but he and Elvira are both addicted to cocaine, and their relationship suffers. Tony becomes increasingly paranoid and suspicious of a van parked outside his estate. The bank informs Tony that he must pay higher fees in order to launder his increasing flow of money. Manny suggests a new contact he recently met who offers a lower rate on money-laundering, and when Tony steps in to handle the deal, he is arrested in a sting operation. After posting a $5 million dollar bail, Tony’s lawyer suggests that he can be cleared of the corruption charges but will not avoid a jail sentence for tax evasion. Fearing the loss of his main distributor, Sosa intervenes, promising that his contacts in Washington, D.C. can clear the charges. However, in exchange, Sosa asks Tony for his help in the assassination of a Bolivian journalist who is threatening to expose Sosa’s operation. Tony reluctantly agrees. Back in Miami, Tony eats dinner at a posh restaurant with Elvira and Manny. Both inebriated, Tony and Elvira argue loudly, and Elvira tells him that she is leaving him and walks out. Tony then goes to New York to assist with the hit Sosa ordered. Sosa’s men wire a bomb to the journalist’s car, but when Tony sees that the journalist is accompanied by his wife and child, he orders them to call off the hit. Before one of the assassins can detonate the bomb, Tony shoots him. He then attempts to call Manny and learns that both he and Gina have been missing for two days. In Miami, Tony calls Sosa, who is furious about the botched hit and rescinds his offer to keep Tony out of jail. Later that night Tony visits his mother, who gives him the address of the house where she believes Gina might be. Tony and two of his men drive to the house to confront his sister. There, he knocks on the door, and Manny answers. When Tony sees Gina, wearing only a robe, he shoots and kills Manny. Crying hysterically, Gina confesses that she and Manny just got married, and they were planning to surprise Tony with the news. Tony’s men pull Gina off of Manny’s corpse and take her back to Tony’s mansion. Assassins swarm Tony’s property as he arrives and heads upstairs, isolating himself in the office, surrounded by mounds of cocaine. No longer crying, Gina steps into Tony’s office, barely clothed, and pretends to seduce him, accusing him of wanting to sleep with her. She then shoots her brother in the leg. As Gina continues to fire shots at Tony, an assassin steps in from the balcony and kills her. Tony pushes the assassin off the balcony, and sees throngs of men invading his property. Back inside, Tony holds Gina’s body, pretending she is not dead, as hired killers infiltrate his mansion. When the assassins reach his office, Tony wields a machine gun and kills several men. During a long firefight, Tony is shot several times. After Tony launches an explosive from the balcony, he is gunned down from behind. Tony’s body falls over the railing and splashes into a fountain below. Atop the fountain is a neon sign with the words, “The World Is Yours.”
 

Distribution Company: Universal Pictures
Production Company: Universal Pictures
Director: Brian DePalma (Dir)
  David Hans Dreyfuss (2d unit dir)
  Ray Hartwick (Unit prod mgr)
  Jerry Ziesmer (1st asst dir)
  Joe Napolitano (1st asst dir)
  Chris Soldo (2d asst dir)
  James Herbert (Addl 2nd asst dir)
Producer: Martin Bregman (Prod)
  Louis A. Stroller (Exec prod)
  Peter Saphier (Co-prod)
Writer: Oliver Stone (Scr)

Subject Major: Cartels
  Cocaine
  Cuban Americans
  Drug dealers
  Gangsters
  Miami (FL)
 
Subject Minor: Assassination
  Bolivia
  Brothers and sisters
  Camps
  Communism
  Firearms
  Friendship
  Fountains
  Gunfights
  Gunshot wounds
  Hired killers
  Jealousy
  Lawyers
  Love affairs
  Mansions
  Marriage
  Money laundering
  Mothers and sons
  Multiple murderers
  New York City
  Nightclubs
  Paranoia
  Refugees, Political
  Tax evasion

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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