AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Movie Detail
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Scarface
Director: Brian DePalma (Dir)
Release Date:   9 Dec 1983
Premiere Information:   New York premiere: 1 Dec 1983; Los Angeles and New York openings: 9 Dec 1983
Production Date:   22 Nov 1982--6 May 1983
Duration (in mins):   170
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Cast:   Al Pacino (Tony Montana) in
  Starring Steven Bauer (Manny Ray)  
  Starring Michelle Pfeiffer (Elvira [Hancock])  
  Starring Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Gina [Montana])  
  Starring Robert Loggia (Frank Lopez)  
  Starring Miriam Colon (Mama Montana)  
  Starring F. Murray Abraham (Omar [Suarez])  
  Starring Paul Shenar (Alejandro Sosa)  
  And Harris Yulin ([Mel] Bernstein)  
  Co-Starring Angel Salazar (Chi Chi)  
  Co-Starring Arnaldo Santana (Ernie)  
  Co-Starring Pepe Serna (Angel [Fernandez])  
  Co-Starring Michael P. Moran (Nick the Pig)  
  Co-Starring Al Israel (Hector the Toad)  
  Co-Starring Dennis Holahan (Banker)  
  Co-Starring Mark Margolis (Shadow)  
  Co-Starring Michael Alldredge (Sheffield)  
  Co-Starring Ted Beniades (Seidelbaum)  
  Co-Starring Richard Belzer (M.C. at Babylon Club)  
  Co-Starring Paul Espel (Luis)  
  Co-Starring John Brandon (Immigration officer #3)  
  Co-Starring Tony Perez (Immigration officer #2)  
  Co-Starring Garnett Smith (Immigration officer #1)  
    Loren Almaguer (Dr. Munoz)  
    Gil Barreto (Cuban refugee)  
    Heather Benna (Gutierrez child)  
    Dawnell Bowers (Miriam)  
    Tina Leigh Cameron (Saleslady)  
    Victor Campos (Ronnie Echevierra)  
    Robert Hammer Cannerday (Marielito)  
    Rene Carrasco (Shooter)  
    Albert Carrier (Pedro Quinn)  
    John Carter (Vic Phillips)  
    Richard Caselnova (Driver)  
    Gary Cervantes (Shooter #1)  
    Carlos Cestero (Matos)  
    John Contardo (Miguel Echevierra)  
    Roberto Contreras ([Emilio] Rebenga)  
    Caesar Cordova (Cook)  
    Gregory N. Cruz (Shooter #2)  
    Dante D'André (General Strasser)  
    Richard Delmonte (Fernando)  
    Wayne Doba (Octavio the clown)  
    Michel Francois (Maitre d')  
    Ben Frommer (Male patron)  
    Edward R. Frommer (Taco stand customer)  
    John Gamble (Helicopter pilot)  
    Troy Isaacs (Cuban refugee)  
    Ronald Joseph (Car salesman)  
    Mario Machado (Interviewer)  
    Joe Marmo (Nacho "El Gordo")  
    Ray Martel (Nacho's bodyguard)  
    John McCann (Bank spokesman)  
    Richard Mendez (Gina's killer)  
    Victor Millan (Ariel Bleyer)  
    Santos Morales (Waldo)  
    Mike Moroff (Gaspar's bodyguard)  
    Angela Nisi (Gutierrez child)  
    Manuel Padilla, Jr. (Kid #2)  
    Tony Pann (Driver)  
    Ilka Payan (Mrs. Gutierrez)  
    Barbra Perez (Marta)  
    Michael Rougas (Monsignor)  
    Anthony Saenz (Cuban refugee)  
    Geno Silva (The Skull)  
    Arnold Tafolla (Kid #1)  
    Chuck Tamburo (Helicopter pilot)  
    Jim Towers (Cuban refugee)  
    Robert Van Den Berg (Gaspar Gomez)  
    Bob Yanez (Cuban man)  
  Women at Babylon Club Angela Aames    
    Nancy Lee Andrews    
    Dona Baldwin    
    Rosa Lee Benton    
    Cynthia Burr    
    Lana Clarkson    
    Karen Criswell    
    Margo Kelly    
    Ava Lazar    
    Emilia Lesniak    
    Marii Mak    
    Shelley Taylor Morgan    
    Catharine Richardson    
    Pat Simmons    
    Terri Taylor    
    Charlie Adiano    
    Lisa Katz    
    Jeanette Linné    
    Margaret Michaels    
    Rhonda Sandberg    
    Kathy Shea    
  [and] Marcia Wolf    

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.”
 

Production Company: Universal Pictures (An MCA Company)
Production Text: A Brian DePalma Film
Distribution Company: Universal Pictures (An MCA Company)
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)
Photography: John A. Alonzo (Dir of photog)
  Michael Ferris (Cam op)
  John Toll (Cam op)
  Tom Laughridge (Cam op)
  Horace Jordan, Jr. (Asst cam op)
  Mario Zavala (Asst cam op)
  Michael Chavez (Asst cam op)
  Susan Ingram (Asst cam op)
  Sidney Baldwin (Still photog)
  Bud Heller (Key grip)
  Clyde Smith (Dolly grip)
  Don Glenn (Best boy grip)
  Don Schmitz (Grip)
  Stuart Spohn (Gaffer)
  Dutch Presley (Best boy)
  Bob Mundell (Best boy)
  Michael Barrett (Elec)
  Kevin Presley (Elec)
  Bill Hansard (Rear projection)
Art Direction: Ed Richardson (Art dir)
  Jim Allen (Asst art dir)
  Ferdinando Scarfiotti (Visual consultant)
Film Editor: Jerry Greenberg (Ed)
  David Ray (Ed)
  Bill Pankow (Assoc film ed)
  Ray Hubley (Asst film ed)
  Laura Civiello (Asst film ed)
  David Oakden (Asst film ed)
  Michael Bregman (Ed room asst)
  Alfred Laurence Kahn (Ed room asst)
  Debby Paley (Ed room asst)
  Shari Smith (Ed room asst)
  Robert Yano (Ed room asst)
  Lori Kornspun (Ed room asst)
  Donah Bassett (Negative cutter)
Set Decoration: Bruce Weintraub (Set dec)
  Dan May (Leadman)
  Will Waters (Set dresser)
  Casey Hallenbeck (Set dresser)
  Blake Russell (Set des)
  Steve Schwartz (Set des)
  Geoff Hubbard (Set des)
  John Zemansky (Prop master)
  Bob Widin (Asst prop master)
  Ed Villa (Asst prop master)
  Lynn Price (Const coord)
  Pete Ivy (Carpenter foreman)
  Peter Lamppu (Carpenter foreman)
  Carlos Salinas (Carpenter foreman)
Costumes: Patricia Norris (Cost des)
  Tony Scarano (Cost)
  Linda Henrikson (Cost)
  Greg Pena (Cost)
Music: Giorgio Moroder (Mus)
  Jim Henrikson (Mus ed)
  Arthur Barrow (Mus arr)
  Sylvester Levay (Mus arr)
  Giorgio Moroder (Mus arr)
  Kristian Schultze (Mus arr)
  Richie Zito (Mus arr)
  Laurie Kanner (Mus coord)
Sound: Charles Darin Knight (Sd mixer)
  Don Bolger (Boom op)
  Charles Bond (Rec)
  Buzz Knudsen (Re-rec mixer)
  Andy Aaron (Sd eff rec)
  Edward Beyer (Supv sd ed)
  Maurice Schell (Sd ed)
  Paul Trejo (Sd ed)
  Michael Jacobi (Sd ed)
  Lou Graf (Sd ed)
  Kevin Lee (Sd ed)
  Mark Rathaus (Sd ed)
  Michael Kirchberger (Sd ed)
  Jay Dranch (Sd ed)
  Robert H. Cornett (Sd ed)
  Harriet Fidlow (Looping dial ed)
  Hal Levinsohn (Looping dial ed)
  Leslie Troy Gaulin (Asst sd ed)
  Bruce Kitzmeyer (Asst sd ed)
  Joan Metzger (Asst sd ed)
  Wende Phifer-Mate (Asst sd ed)
  Weezie Rubacky (Asst sd ed)
  Anne Stein (Asst sd ed)
  Barbara Minor (Asst sd ed)
  Yvette Nabel (Asst sd ed)
  Marissa DeGuzman (Asst sd ed)
  Arthur Weiss (Asst sd ed)
  Brunilda Torres (Asst sd ed)
  Randall Coleman (Asst sd ed)
  Maddy Shirazi (Asst sd ed)
  James Briley (Asst sd ed)
  David Concors (Tech sd consultant)
  Steve Hodge (Sd consultant)
  Brian Reeves (Sd consultant)
  David Rideau (Sd consultant)
Special Effects: Ken Pepiot (Spec eff)
  Stan Parks (Spec eff)
  David Hans Dreyfuss (Title seq des)
  Paul Neshamkin (Title seq ed)
  Computer Opticals, Inc. (Titles & opt eff)
Make Up: Steve Abrums (Make-up)
  Barbara Guedel (Make-up)
  Toni Walker (Hair stylist)
  Janice Brandow (Hair stylist)
Production Misc: Alixe Gordin (Casting)
  Bob Morones (Addl casting)
  Karl Brindle (Extra casting)
  Billy Cardenas (Extra casting)
  Frank Pierson (Loc mgr)
  Susan Zwerman (Loc mgr)
  Shari Leibowtiz (Prod coord)
  Jan Kemper (Scr supv)
  Joan Eisenberg (Unit pub)
  Judee Roberts (Talent coord)
  Joe James (Craft service)
  Michaelson's (Catering)
  Bob Yanetti (DGA trainee)
  Michael Fottrell (Prod asst)
  Darryl Fong (Prod asst)
  Lori Meeks (Prod asst)
  Danny Anglin (Transportation coord)
  Ted Reed (Transportation capt)
  Bob Cornnell (Transportation co-capt)
  Richard Brehm (Driver)
  Junior Newman (Driver)
  Pat Seran (Driver)
  Frankie Hernandez (Driver)
  Tony Emerzian (Driver)
  Hal Landeker (Video consultant)
  Zarem Inc. (Pub)
  Robert Easton (Dial coach)
  Gary Hill (Asst to Mr. DePalma)
  Mary Viviano (Asst to Mr. Pacino)
  Barbrah Messing (Secy)
  Sandy Russell (Secy)
  Ron Filbert (Prod auditor)
  Willie Kapahu (Prod auditor)
Stand In: Jophery Brown (Stunt coord)
  Jim Arnett (Stunts)
  Bobby Bass (Stunts)
  Clay Boss (Stunts)
  Janet Brady (Stunts)
  Jerry Brutsche (Stunts)
  Chere Bryson (Stunts)
  David Burton (Stunts)
  Dave Cadiente (Stunts)
  Steve Chambers (Stunts)
  Gary Combs (Stunts)
  Gil Combs (Stunts)
  Steve Davison (Stunts)
  Tim Davison (Stunts)
  Mike De Luna (Stunts)
  Justin De Rosa (Stunts)
  Eddy Donno (Stunts)
  Tom Elliott (Stunts)
  Eurlyne Epper (Stunts)
  Lenny Geer (Stunts)
  Alan Gibbs (Stunts)
  James M. Halty (Stunts)
  Fred Hice (Stunts)
  Bill Hooker (Stunts)
  Buddy Joe Hooker (Stunts)
  Hugh Hooker (Stunts)
  Thomas J. Huff (Stunts)
  Gary Hymes (Stunts)
  Al Jones (Stunts)
  Donna Keegan (Stunts)
  Ed Lang (Stunts)
  Buck McDancer (Stunts)
  Gary McLarty (Stunts)
  John Meier (Stunts)
  Alan Oliney (Stunts)
  Ron Oliney (Stunts)
  Brad Orrison (Stunts)
  Chuck Picerni, Jr. (Stunts)
  Larry Robinson (Stunts)
  Donald Pulford (Stunts)
  J. N. Roberts (Stunts)
  Mario Roberts (Stunts)
  Sandy Robertson (Stunts)
  Thomas Rosales, Jr. (Stunts)
  Mike Runyard (Stunts)
  Sharon Schaffer (Stunts)
  Spike Silver (Stunts)
  Eddie Smith (Stunts)
  Peter T. Stader (Stunts)
  Tom Steele (Stunts)
  Ron Stein (Stunts)
  Keith Tellez (Stunts)
  Jack Vergois (Stunts)
  Danny Weselis (Stunts)
  Glen Wilder (Stunts)
  Scott Wilder (Stunts)
  Dick Ziker (Stunts)
Color Personnel: Phil Hetos (Technicolor consultant)
  Jack Garsha (Technicolor timing consultant)
MPAA Rating: R
Country: United States
Language: English

Music: "Tony's Theme," performed by Giorgio Moroder, music by Giorgio Moroder; "Gina's and Elvira's Theme," performed by Helen St. John, music by Giorgio Moroder.
Songs: "Scarface (Push It to the Limit)," performed by Paul Engemann, music by Giorgio Moroder, lyrics by Pete Bellotte; "Rush Rush," performed by Deborah Harry, music by Giorgio Moroder, lyrics by Deborah Harry, courtesy of Chrysalis Records; "Turn Out the Light," performed by Amy Holland, music by Giorgio Moroder, lyrics by Pete Bellotte; "Vamos a Bailar," performed by Maria Conchita, music by Giorgio Moroder, lyrics by Maria Conchita, courtesy of A&M Records; "She's on Fire," performed by Amy Holland, music by Giorgio Moroder, lyrics by Pete Bellotte; "Shake It Up," performed by Elizabeth Daily, music by Giorgio Moroder, lyrics by Giorgio Moroder and Arthur Barrow; "Dance Dance Dance," performed by Beth Andersen, music by Giorgio Moroder, lyrics by Giorgio Moroder and Arthur Barrow; "I'm Hot Tonight," performed by Elizabeth Daily, music by Giorgio Moroder, lyrics by Giorgio Moroder and Arthur Barrow.
Composer: Arthur Barrow
  Pete Bellotte
  Maria Conchita
  Deborah Harry
  Giorgio Moroder
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Universal City Studios, Inc. 9/3/1984 dd/mm/yyyy PA210472

Physical Properties: Sd:
  col: color by Technicolor®
  Widescreen/ratio: Filmed in Panavision®

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Gangster
 
Subjects (Major): Cartels
  Cocaine
  Cuban Americans
  Drug dealers
  Gangsters
  Miami (FL)
 
Subjects (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

Note: The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Christy Turner, a student at Oregon State University, with Jon Lewis as academic advisor.

Opening credits begin with the following prologue: “In May 1980, Fidel Castro opened the harbor at Mariel, Cuba, with the apparent intention of letting some of his people join their relatives in the United States. Within seventy-two hours, 3,000 U.S. boats were headed for Cuba. It soon became evident that Castro was forcing the boat owners to carry back with them not only their relatives, but the dregs of his jails. Of the 125,000 refugees that landed in Florida, an estimated 25,000 had criminal records.” The prologue is followed by a television clip featuring Fidel Castro, who comments about the refugees, “They are unwilling to adapt to the spirit of our revolution…We don’t want them! We don’t need them!”
       The following title is superimposed over the film before end credits: “This film is dedicated to Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht.” Hawks directed and Hecht wrote the 1932 version of Scarface (see entry) upon which the film is based. A "special thanks" from the producers acknowledges the following organizations and individuals: The Organized Crime Bureau of Broward County, especially Major Nick Navarro and Agent Rafael Hernandez, Jr.; The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company and crew of the "Enterprise." End credits also acknowledge documentary footage of “Cuban Boat People” was provided by the National Broadcasting Company, Inc.; Sherman Grinberg Film Libraries, Inc.; Seven League Productions, Inc.; Tri-Continental Film Center Foundation; and Wometco Enterprises, Inc. The film concludes with a title card reading, “ Scarface is a fictional account of the activities of a small group of ruthless criminals. The characters do not represent the Cuban/American community and it would be erroneous and unfair to suggest that they do. The vast majority of Cuban/Americans have demonstrated a dedication, vitality and enterprise that has enriched the American scene.”
       In the 1932 version, the words “The World Is Yours” flashed on a neon sign when lead character “Tony Camonte” died. In Brian DePalma’s remake, “Tony Montana” sees the same words on a blimp, and incorporates them into a neon sign atop a fountain at his Miami estate. Just after Montana dies, he falls into the fountain, and the camera pans up to focus on the sign’s pink neon letters spelling out, “The World Is Yours.”
       According to a Nov 1983 article in Marquee , De Palma become involved in the project after he pursued Al Pacino for the lead role in Blow Out (1981, see entry), ultimately played by John Travolta. At the time, Pacino discussed his interest in Scarface with De Palma and sent him a videotape of the 1932 version. Despite a 17 Aug 1981 LAHExam report that De Palma had backed out of the project, and Sidney Lumet was being considered as his replacement, DePalma eventually agreed to direct. A 20 Apr 1981 HR news item announced that, in addition to Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, John Travolta was being considered for the role of Tony; however, in a 23 Apr 1981 LAHExam brief, Universal Pictures President Ned Tanen denied the claims, saying Travolta might play the role based on George Raft’s character in the 1932 version, “Rinaldo.” After he was cast, Al Pacino allegedly wanted Meryl Streep to play “Elvira,” according to an 18 Feb 1981 HR brief. The role later went to Michelle Pfeiffer.
       Filmmakers planned to shoot in Miami, FL, where the story was set, and spent $250,000 in Miami in the early stages of production, as stated in a 27 Apr 1983 Var item. However, resistance from the local Cuban population put the project on hold, as community members were afraid the film would portray Cuban refugees in a criminal light and associate them with Miami's rising crime rate. A 23 Aug 1982 DV article stated that “Miami city commissioner Demetrio Perez, Jr. plann[ed] to introduce a resolution that would forbid the permits needed to shoot on city property,” barring use of city facilities to productions that negatively portrayed minority characters. Production officials met with several minority groups, including the Spanish American League Against Discrimination and the Cuban National Planning Council. Although executive producer Louis Stroller agreed to include a disclaimer in the credits noting that the film was “not meant as an indictment of Miami's Cuban refugee population,” principal photography moved to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, CA, to avoid further confrontation with Miami’s Latin American population, according to the Nov 1983 issue of Marquee . A 27 Apr 1983 Var news item announced that the production had returned to Miami to film exteriors for ten to twelve days, and filming would be done discreetly in order to avoid press coverage and further controversy. Producer Martin Bregman stated in a 26 Aug 1982 HR article that filming would take twelve weeks, though production ultimately went on for twenty-four weeks, as noted in a 12 May 1983 DV brief. Likewise, HR stated that the budget was $10 million, but the film eventually cost $23.5 million, as noted in a 10 Nov 1983 LAT article.
       Primarily due to violence and language deemed to be obscene, Scarface was awarded an ‘X’ rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), according to a 4 Nov 1983 DV news item. A 7 Nov 1983 Time news item reported that several edits were made and the film was re-submitted to the MPAA four times. De Palma described MPAA chief Richard Heffner as overly demanding, claiming in a 9 Nov 1983 LAHExam brief that Heffner harbored resentment toward him ever since they fought over the rating of his 1980 film, Dressed to Kill (see entry). Despite De Palma’s cuts, the MPAA’s decision was upheld, and the filmmakers appealed to the MPAA’s Classification and Rating Administration (CARA). According to a 10 Nov 1983 LAT article, several people spoke in defense of Scarface at the appeal hearing, including Jay Cocks, a former film critic, who “read letters of support from himself and critic Roger Ebert,” and Nick Navarro, a Florida-based law-enforcement officer specializing in narcotics. Navarro, who served as a technical advisor on the film, claimed that Scarface should be seen by young people because it accurately portrayed the “ugliness behind the drug trade.” Two psychiatrists also attested that moviegoers above the age of thirteen would not be harmed by the film as they have the capacity to distinguish “screen realism from real life.” The appeal was successful, and the film was re-rated ‘R’ with no further edits.
       Scarface was met with both very positive and very negative reviews. Several critics cited the film’s nearly three-hour running time as a weak point, stating that Tony’s downfall in the latter portion of the film was excessively drawn out. On 30 Nov 1983, reviewer Duane Byrge of HR criticized writer Oliver Stone’s dialogue, stating that it “contains more lead than the film’s considerable expenditure of ammo.” Another negative review in the 9 Dec 1983 LAT called the film an “empty vessel” and claimed that Pacino’s Cuban accent faltered at times despite the actor’s reputation as a perfectionist. In his 9 Dec 1983 NYT review, Vincent Canby applauded the film as “a revelation” and pointed to Pacino’s performance as a high point. On 30 Nov 1983, Var praised the performances and the film’s operatic, grandiose style.
       In a 13 Jan 1984 LAT brief, Michael London reported that the film had taken in $26.3 million in box-office receipts after one month of release. London commented that the film had a “prime following of 14- to 17-year-olds,” and quoted Universal marketing chief Martin Antonowksy as saying: “The opening business…has been bigger than anything else in the three-hour class.”
       Scarface was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama (Al Pacino); Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Steven Bauer); and Best Original Score - Motion Picture (Giorgio Moroder). The picture was ranked 10th on AFI’s 2007 list of Top Ten Gangster Films and included in the first 100 films on Roger Ebert’s list of “Great Movies.”


 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   23 Aug 1982   p. 1, 15.
Daily Variety   10 Jan 1983.   
Daily Variety   12 May 1983.   
Daily Variety   4 Nov 1983.   
Hollywood Reporter   18 Feb 1981.   
Hollywood Reporter   20 Apr 1981.   
Hollywood Reporter   26 Aug 1982.   
Hollywood Reporter   13 May 1983.   
Hollywood Reporter   30 Nov 1983   p. 3, 14.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Aug 1991.   
Hollywood Reporter   25 Jan 1994.   
LAHExam   23 Apr 1981.   
LAHExam   17 Aug 1981.   
LAHExam   9 Nov 1983   Section A, p. 2.
Los Angeles Times   10 Nov 1983.   
Los Angeles Times   9 Dec 1983   p. 1.
Los Angeles Times   13 Jan 1984.   
Marquee   Nov 1983.   
New York Times   9 Dec 1983   p. 18.
Time   7 Nov 1983.   
Variety   1 Dec 1982.   
Variety   27 Apr 1983.   
Variety   9 Nov 1983.   
Variety   30 Nov 1983   p. 20.

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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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