Spoiler Warning


Always assume Spoilers and possible profanity in context. These are often adult themed movies.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Scarface


What Happens

Tony Montana (Al Pacino) starts out as a Cuban refugee trying to enter the US with a boatload of other Cubans from Mariel, Cuba. He doesn't do well when being screened, the scar on his face and his aggressive attitude getting him sent to a processing camp called, "Freedom Town." Tony does take a moment to tell the screeners about how much he hates communism and asserting that he is a political prisoner.
Tony is angry about Freedom Town, and when his friend Manny (Steven Bauer,) who came over with him presents him with a proposition he's been given to kill a former aide to Castro, Emilio Rebenga, in exchange for green cards, Tony quickly agrees saying "I'd kill a communist for fun, but for a green card, I'm gonna carve him up real nice." Tony stabs Rebenga during a camp riot and they are quickly rewarded with their green cards and released from Freedom Town into Miami.

Tony and Manny go to work washing dishes at a Cuban food stand (which Tony is not happy about) until Frank, the man who ordered Rebenga killed sends his man Omar Suarez (F. Murray Abraham) to approach them. Omar offers Tony and Manny $500.00 apiece to unload a boat the next night. While Manny is pleased with the offer, Tony is insulted by the low pay, saying "$500.00, who do you think we are, baggage handlers?"The going rate on a boat is $1,000.00 a night, you know that." Omar makes fun of Tony and Manny's diswasher status, but Tony doesn't back down, threatening Omar with violence. Omar's partner stops him from grabbing his gun reminding him of another job. Omar offers Tony a job picking up cocaine from a Colombian guy named Hector for $5000.00. Omar gives them the money to buy the cocaine, as well as machine guns and warns them and warns them not to mess it up. When Omar leaves, Manny tells Tony he's pushing his luck, but Tony doesn't agree.

Tony and Manny put a crew together for the buy. Tony establishes that he will go in the hotel to do the buy while the others stay in the car with the money in the trunk. If he doesn't return in five minutes they're to assume something went wrong and come in for him. One of the crew, Angel, goes upstairs with Tony, while Manny and Chi Chi wait in the car. Tony doesn't like Colombians, and he gets quickly upset, when Hector tries to small talk and then tells him the cocaine is not in the room, but close by. Tony says "I don't have the money either, I have it close by too." Hector guesses it's in the car, but Tony says denies it.

Angel waits quietly just outside the open hotel room door and looking down on the street, sees that Manny is distracted by all the women in bikinis walking around. Tony gets more impatient saying "OK. You want me to come in, we start over again, man?" Hector tries to make small talk again, while one of his men sneaks up on Angel with a gun. When Hector says "I want to get to know you." TOny responds "You're gonna get to know me once you start doing business with me and stop fucking around, Hector."At that point Hector's man grabs Angel at gunpoint and ties him to the shower curtain rod while Hector holds a gun to Tony's chin. Despite the grim situation, Tony tells Hector, "You just fucked yourself."  Hector demand's Tony's cash, and he turns Tony's head to look at Angel. Hector tells him they'll kill Angel, then Tony.  Tony responds "Why don't you try sticking your head up your ass, see if it fits." Hector opens the briefcase with the cocaine in it (which is in the room) and reveals that it also holds a chainsaw. Manny meanwhile is chatting with a young blond at the car. Hector takes the chainsaw to Angel while Tony watches at gunpoint. When the blonde leaves Manny decides to go in. He and Chi Chi get the machine guns and head to the room. Manny is shot in the struggle but not seriously wounded while Tony chases Hector into the street and shoots him dead in front of a crowd. Tony, Manny and Chi Chi escape and Tony tells Omar the job is done, but "somebody fucked up" and he insists on bringing the cocaine to Frank Lopez himself rather than hand it to Omar.

Frank (Robert Loggia) welcomes them into his house. Tony offers Frank the money and the cocaine as "my gift to you." Frank rants about the job they've done for him. Frank mentions his girlfriend Elvira saying "she spends half her life dressing, the other half undressing." Frank offers to take them out to dinner, and they wait for Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer) to be ready. Tony watches her make her way to the living room via a glass elevator, clearly captivated by her. Her greeting to Frank is less than warm, when he tells her he's hungry, she says "You're always hungry, you should try starving." Frank introduces Tony and Manny to Elvira, telling her they're going to the Babylon Club. Frank offers Tony advice pointing out people in the club. He tells Frank that one man is a "chazzer"
Frank: You know what a chazzer is?
Tony Montana: No, Frank, you tell me. What is a chazzer?
Frank: It's a Yiddish word for "pig." See, the guy, he wants more than what he needs. He don't fly straight no more.
He then tells Tony rule #1, "Don't underestimate the other guys greed." Elvira jumps in with rule number 2, which is "Don't get high on your own supply." Frank goes out of his way to be affable, telling Tony he's getting him new clothes, so they can start working together. He tells Tony he'll be working with Omar to bring a string of mules from Colombia. Tony makes it clear that he's ready to go, when Elvira cuts in saying "So do you want to dance Frank, or do you wanna sit here and have a heart attack?" Frank chooses the heart attack, but Elvira asks Tony to dance with her, which Frank encourages. With TOny and Elvira gone, Frank asks Omar, "What do you think of him" Omar says "I think he's a fucking peasant." Frank says "Yeah, but you get a guy like that on your side, he breaks his back for you."

Tony doesn't waste any time with Elvira trying to make small talk. Elvira dances with him but isn't into the conversation. He tells her "I'm just trying to be friendly." She says "I have enough friends. I don't need another, especially one that just got off a banana boat."
Tony: Banana boat? Hold it man, you got the wrong guy here. I don't come off no banana boat. Okay? You're thinking of someone else, man.
Elvira: Aren't you part of the Cuban crime wave?
Tony: What you talking crazy for man? I'm a political refugee. So take it easy. Don't talk crazy.
Elvira: Sorry. I didn't know you were so sensitive about your diplomatic status.
Tony Montana: Hey baby what is your problem? Huh, you got a problem? You're good looking, you got a beautiful body, beautiful legs, beautiful face, all these guys in love with you. Only you got a look in your eye like you haven't been fucked in a year!

Elvira: Hey, Jose. Who, why, when, and how I fuck is none of your business, okay?
Tony: Now you're talking to me baby. That I like! Keep it coming baby!
Elvira: Don't call me baby! I'm not your baby!
Tony: Not yet man. You've got to give me some time!
Elvira soon excuses herself after making her lack of interest clear.
Driving home Tony tells Manny, "She likes me." Manny tells her not to get mixed up with the boss's lady. Tony tells Manny that Frank is soft. Manny says "I say, be happy with what you've got." Tony answers "You be happy with what you've got. Me, I want what's coming to me. Manny asks "What's coming to you?" and Tony says "The world, Chico, and everything in it."


Tony and Manny pick up Elvira for Frank in a yellow cadillac with a leopard pattern interior which leaves Elvira mortified. Tony heads to the car dealership to buy a car she likes better. She gets impatient at the dealership and Tony hits on her. She asks him "What would Frank say?" To which, Tony responds "I like Frank, you know, only I like you better." Elvira shares some cocaine with him and he tries to kiss her. She says "Don't get confused Tony, I don't fuck around with the help."

Tony then visits his mother's house. She's initially surprised to see him him but appears reluctant to let him in, mentioning "no postcards from jail?" He sees his sister Gina in the house and gives her a present. She's overjoyed to see him. (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) Gina tells him she's going to work in a beauty parlor, but Tony tells her she doesn't have to and puts $1,000.00 on the table. His mother asks him who he killed for it and doesn't believe the story he makes up for his success, telling him "It's Cubans like you who are giving a bad name to our people!" She calls him a bum and swears off his money before kicking him out of the house. Tony leaves quietly and Gina follows him out, apologizing for their mother. He slips Gina some money and tells her not to show it to their mother. Manny watches their reunion and remarks to Tony, "She's beautiful!" Tony says "HEY! You stay away from her! She's not for you."

Tony and Omar have a meeting in Bolivia with Alejandro Sosa (Paul Shenar) to talk about distributing Sosa's drugs. Omar keeps referring all decisions back to Frank, who isn't there, while Tony keeps chiming in offering his own solutions as if he has the authority. Omar is getting irritated with Tony. When Sosa excuses himself to take a phone call, Omar tells him to keep his mouth shut and just watch his back. Tony starts up the conversation again but Omar talks over him getting angry in front of Sosa he reminds Tony he doesn't have the authority. Omar tells Sosa, he'll fly back and talk to Frank. Sosa offers his own jet which will bring him back in time for lunch tomorrow. Sosa then proposes that Tony stay behind while Omar talks to Frank. Omar is put on a helicopter and killed while Tony and Sosa watch. Sosa informs Tony that Omar was an informer years ago and asks Tony about his own loyalty. Sosa is satisfied with Tony, but expresses doubt about Frank for hiring Omar. Tony tells him that it could happen to anyone. He gives his word that he'll work things out with Frank. Sosa says "I'll tell you one time, Don't fuck me Tony, don't you ever try to fuck me."

Frank and Tony meet and Frank is angry that he made a deal without him and intimidated by the size of the deal. He tells Tony, "If you make a deal, it's on your own." Frank is worried about their competitors, but Tony tells him they have to expand. Frank says that Sosa is a snake and implies that Tony might know something he isn't telling. He refuses to call Tony a liar however, and tells Tony that he stole this deal with Sosa, and that he is keeping things as they are for now.

Tony visits Frank's house when Frank is out and finds Elvira there. He asks her to have a couple drinks with him. He tells her that they're not working together any longer. He asks Elvira how she feels about kids and she says she likes tham "as long as there's a nurse." She gets worried that Frank will be back soon, but Tony insists on talking to her and asks her to marry him and be the mother of his children. "What about Frank?" she asks. ony assures her that Frank is finished and tells her to think about it.

Tony and Manny visit the Babylon club, where Tony is upset to see Gina there. Before he can confront Gina, Tony is stopped by Bernstein (Harris Yulin,) a narcotics officer looking to be paid off not to hassle him. He tells Tony that for the monthly pay off they'll shake down people for him if he needs it. Tony makes the deal and sees that Frank and Elvira are there. He sits down with Elvira who tells him he's crazy. Frank returns, angry and orders him to leave. Tony tells Frank "The only thing in this world that gives orders is balls." Frank backs down and tells Elvira they're leaving. Tony realizes that Frank has given the cops information on him. Tony sees Gina with a guy and pursues them finding  them together in a men's room stall. Tony kicks the door open and tells Gina that if he catches her there again he'll "wipe you all over the fucking place." Gina insists that she'll do what she wants to do, and Tony slaps her when she says "If I wanna fuck em, I'll fuck 'em." Tony asks Manny to take her home and Gina starts coming on to Manny, although he's hesitant to admit he likes her. Gina says "What are you afraid of Tony huh?"

Tony sits at the night club where two gunmen watch him. They fire on him with machine guns sending the crowd running out. Tony gets shot but manages to kill them both. He calls his crew and arranges a meeting with Frank. Bernstein is also there but keeps quiet when Tony confronts him about the hit. Frank tries to blame the Diaz brothers offering to help him take care of it. Frank asks him why he has his gun out and Tony says he's just "paranoid." Frank takes a phone call which Tony arranged which is someone saying the hit failed. Frank pretends it's Elvira on the phone, confirming Tony's suspicion. Tony reminds Frank "Do you know what a chazzer is , Frank? That's a pig, that don't fly straight. Neither do you, Frank." Frank insists that he wouldn't hurt him, but Tony knows better. Frank asks Bernstein to do something, but he doesn't seem to care. He admits what he did and begs Tony to forgive him and asks for a second chance, offerring Tony ten million dollars to spare him. He grovels even offering Elvira and kneeling in front of Tony. Tony says "I won't kill you." which relieves Frank until Tony tells Manny to do it. Bernstein then tries to convince Frank that he'd warned Frank, but Tony isn't persuaded and kills Bernstein too. Tony goes to see Elvira in bed, explaining that Frank won't be back. He says "Go on. Get your stuff. You're coming with me." She gets her things.



Tony and Sosa are now making ridiculous amounts of money and he's a powerful figure in the city as illustrated by Tony's crew carting giant bags of cash to the bank. Tony and Elvira get married and Gina and Manny seem to have a secret understanding of their own. Tony buys a large estate, with expensive accesories like a portrait of him and Elvira, a surveillance system for the property, and his own tiger to keep chained in the yard. Success becomes the normal state of things. Tony has a disagreement with a bank officer, who explains that he can't give Tony more of a discount for laundering their money as the more he gives them, the more difficult it is to launder it.  Tony gets concerned about people coming after him and chastises Manny for not taking his security seriously enough. Tony argues with Elvira for doing too much cocaine, and she answers "Nothing exceeds like excess." and complaining that all he ever talks about is money and it's boring her.

Manny sets up a laundering deal with a guy named Seidelbaum to save them money from bank fees.Tony goes to the meet but it turns out that Seidelbaum is an undercover cop, and officers bust into the room arresting Tony. Seidelbaum reveals that the whole meet was videotaped. Tony gets bailed out and his lawyer tells him the best he can do is three years in prison and a delayed trial.

Tony meets with Sosa, who tells him they can take care of his legal problem if Tony can help them. Sosa has assembled some powerful figures from around the world. Sosa is concerned about a Bolivian  figure who is exposing him and his associates in public pointing out the key figures in the drug trade. Sosa proposes that his man Alberto, will assasinate the man but Tony will help him navigate in the US as he doesn't speak English. Tony agrees. In Miami, at an upscale restaurant, Tony tells Manny to keep an eye on the organization, as he has to go to New York (to escort Alberto) Tony calls Elvira a junkie, and she calls him on his own activities, telling Tony "We're losers." before walking out and telling Tony she's leaving him.Aware of everyone in the restaurant staring he addresses them:
"What you lookin' at? You all a bunch of fuckin' assholes. You know why? You don't have the guts to be what you wanna be? You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin' fingers and say, "That's the bad guy." So... what that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don't have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There's a bad guy comin' through! Better get outta his way!"



Tony brings his henchmen to New York to escort Alberto, who places a bomb beneath the Bolivian journalist's car. Alberto explains that the hit is supposed to be in front of the united nations and that Tony needs to follow the car staying thirty meters behind. The journalist unexpectedly picks up his wife and kids giving Tony qualms as Tony doesn't kill people for no reason. Alberto insists and they follow the car. Tony sees the kids playing in the car window and drives too far behind, angering Alberto. Tony resents Alberto's methods and ends up losing his top and shooting Alberto rather than blow up the kids.

Tony calls home and finds that Manny has been gone for days, which makes him angry as he left Manny in charge. He also gets a message that his mother called saying Gina was missing and she wants to see him. When he returns he finds that Sosa has been calling every half hour. He talks to Sosa who wants to know what happened. Sosa reveals that the journalist gave a speech he shouldn't have made and that the car bomb has been found. He reminds Tony "I told you a long time ago, not to fuck me." Tony goes to see his mother who tells him Gina has her own place now and gives him the address. Tony goes there and finds Manny at the door in only a bathrobe. He sees Gina upstairs also in a bathroom and Tony then shoots Manny dead, horrifying Gina. Gina rushes over to Manny on the floor and tells Tony "We got married just yesterday. We were gonna surprise you." His henchmen convince Tony that he has to leave although he appears shocked.
They take Gina with them, still inconsolable.

Tony sits at his desk with huge amounts of cocaine. We see assassins swarming the property on the surveillance cameras behind Tony. Tony announces to his men that they're "going to war" with Sosa. Tony sits at the desk reflecting opening his patio door. His men see someone creeping into the building. Tony agonizes over Manny and Sosa's assassins start overrunning the place. Tony buries his nose in the cocaine and Gina lets herself in the office seeming strangely calm.The assasins creep closer to the patio door outside the office. Gina reaches her hand inside her robe and asks,
Gina: Is this what you want, Tony?...Huh, Tony? You can't stand for another man to be touching me. So you want me Tony, huh? Huh?
Tony: What you talkin'?
Gina: Oh, is that it? Huh? Here I am Tony.
[She reveals a pistol in her hand and shoots at Tony].
Gina: I am all your now, Tony, you see? I'm all yours now.
[shoots at Tony again]
Tony: Gina...
Gina: YOu better come and get me now.
Tony: Hold it. Come on.
Gina: Come on. Come and get me, Tony. YOu do it now before it's too late.
[Gina shoots again, hitting Tony in the leg.]
Gina: Oh come on Tony. Fuck me, huh?
[Fires again]
Gina: Fuck me Tony!
[Fires again]
She gets interrupted by the assasins outside who burst in and fire on her with a machine gun, in front of Tony. Tony rushes the man, throwing him from the roof into the pool below, where he fires his machine gun into him from above.Tony know sees the assasins coming from everwhere. He closes his office door and checks on Gina who is dead. He holds he body, sobbing, begging her to talk. He tells her that he loves Manny and her. TOny's men kill some of the assasins but they're quickly overrun. He watches from his cameras as one of his men is shot down while pounding on his office door. He starts watching the cameras and shoots his door with several of them outside it. He fires at the men below with his machine gun, getting shot himself but getting many of them. He looks through the smoke below from all the shots dropping his gun while they shoot at him exclaiming "You think you can kill me with bullets? I take your fucking bullets! Go ahead!" We see that a man with sunglasses is coming up behind him with a shotgun, while he focuses on the men below. The man blasts Tony and he falls dead into a pool below. we see that the pool is decorated with a sculpture which says "the world is yours" The man with the shotgun walks down the stairs and we see lots of bodies everywhere.



What About it?

 Scarface is a classic "rise and fall" movie, familiar from Greek myths and more recently from older Warner Brothers gangster movies, such as "Little Ceasar," "The Public Enemy" and the original "Scarface." There are many parallels to the original "Scarface" but this one is certainly its own story, as the circumstances and characters make it a completely contemporary. Oliver Stone wrote a smart screenplay which, although containing political elements, makes use of them only in how they affect the characters. The old gangster movies were natural rise and fall stories, based on characters such as Capone and Dillinger and  made great cautionary tales because they were based on true figures who were caught. The were also stories that were pulled out of headlines. Tony Montana may be a fictitious character but much of his world is real enough.

It was against the rules in early Hollywood to have a movie about a gangster show the rise without the fall. Scarface departs from the conventional and once mandated idea that "crime doesn't pay" and makes the inevitable fall a result of the man's own self destructive limitations rather than the prowess of law enforcement. His fall comes, because he is badly flawed, and still isn't happy at the top. Crime doesn't pay here, but more due to character than law. As unbelievable as it seems by today's standards, Scarface had it's share of controversy and had to wrestle with an X rating due to it's frank and graphic language and some, at the time, brutal scenes.

The idea "The World is Yours" pops up many times in the film and invites us to ask what that really means. Scarface is often mentioned as a dark reflection on the American dream, it's certainly a look at capitalism in its raw form. Tony Montana mentions his hatred for communists many times, mostly that he doesn't like "being told what to do." Drug dealers are often seen as alternative entrepreneurs and this is a good example of that. Tony Montana's main desire is to be successful, and he's willing to sacrifice everything to achieve it. Tony starts out with nothing at all but his attitude. His rise is only possible because no one calls him on it, and he gradually builds up the power to make bigger threats and bigger profits. He assumes that everyone is corrupt (and here he's mostly right) and that anything can be solved with enough money and power. He can't imagine that there's a limit to how far he can go. The choice of making Tony Montana an immigrant is an interesting one, as the American Dream, to him is not just a freedom he takes for granted, but a radical solution to the frustrations in his life. The very idea of the American Dream is largely due to the aspirations and journeys of immigrants. Tony's insistence that he is a political refugee is not without merit. His real struggle is to enter another "class" by force, which under communism, would not be possible and even in America, is certainly not easy.

His boss at one time, Frank is a good contrast to Montana. He has built his own American Dream, making money, appearing succesful and powerful. Frank is not however particularly ruthless and Tony and Frank end up at odds when Tony's belief that they need to expand conflicts with Frank being comfortable where he is. Frank is shown a couple of times trying to impress Tony with his own bluster, only to back down quickly before he goes too far. Frank doesn't ever get his hands dirty, whereas Tony is always a part of his own dirty work. To Tony, settling for the place you already have is practically communism. All he can imagine is the constant pursuit of "more." and in his case it'll never be enough.

Tony's friend Manny is closer to Frank than Tony in philosophy, but this doesn't bother Frank because that's fine for the second in charge. Tony's relationship with his sister illustrates Tony's mentality well, and she's not wrong when she accuses Tony of wanting her for himself. Whether or not Tony can possess her, she is his family and closest "possession"  and it's enough for him that nobody else can have what is his. When Manny remarks that she's beautiful, Tony has to add in his caution "She's not for you." which implies that she is for someone, meaning himself. He can't deal with this represented literally however, as we see, when Gina confronts him at the end. One of Tony's biggest problems is he doesn't know what possessions mean.

Tony's wife Elvira, is another statement about his status. While he certainly sees that she's beautiful, it would seem that some of her allure is the fact that she's with his boss, the "forbidden fruit" much like the idea of he himself becoming wealthy. She is immediately something he must possess because he can't have it. At their first meeting he makes an advance, not caring what consequences this could have. This is the same way he views success, he starts out in a position with little chance of acheiving anything other than a modest life, or possibly being sent back to Cuba. He needs the success because he can't have it and realizes that such an unlikely goal is not likely to happen without bold moves.

Tony Montana is completely unapologetic about his goals and interests. He won't accept being talked to with disrespect by anyone and doesn't respect the channels that most people follow, prizing "making your own moves." above all else. He makes his way to the "top" very quickly, but once there, he wonders what the point was, as his relationships disintegrate, and he's busy just maintaining things as they are. He's also reminded that his "top" isn't really the top as he's still susceptible to a police sting operation and to the needs of Sosa. He starts out claiming some principles such as "I never fucked anybody over that didn't have it coming." yet he ends up destroying every person that means anything to him. Huis principle is largely worthless as he can find ways to reason that anybody "has it coming."

DePalma creates an elaborate world firmly rooted in reality, the Cuban camp "Freedom Town" and the seedy hotel and street scenes are as convincing as Tony's later luxurious settings. In fact the luxury almost seems effectively unconvincing, in that it's too much to be believed, which makes perfect sense for Tony's character. Tony knows nothing of wealth, except what he can imagine so it's no wonder that his luxurious life looks tacky. Tony quickly changes clothes from dishwasher attire to expensive suits we see that Tony is always the same restless egomaniac. Stone's script blends the details of reality well with the fictional characters, making everyone feel remarkably authentic.

The comfortability of luxury makes Tony seem a man out of place. Pacino is perfect in this role, as evidenced by the number of Tony Montana imitations I've seen over the years. He completely established a real character down to the Cuban accent and speech patterns. Pacino is only Tony Montana here.

Robert Loggia is also great, as a man so drunk on his own status and power that he's completely oblivious to what people really think. His first scene with Tony at the nightclub is a great picture of someone overselling his own affability. His mental condescenscion to Tony leaves him badly exposed, which he of course pays for. It's fitting that he tells Tony not to "underestimate the other guy's greed." as that's the rule which undoes him. Even when trying to have Tony hit, we get the sense that it's more out of hurt than any malice, because Tony so quickly eclipsing his operation challenges his own status. If not for that he would likely co exist with Tony indefinitely, as he does happily with his other competitors.

Michelle Pfeiffer does a tremendous job here, despite being largely an unknown at the time. Her character is complex for her relatively small amount of screentime. She's attracted to success and content to be a trophy, provided she gets the comfort she needs, including cocaine. Her acerbic nature is a futile stab against the idea that she is property, which she undermines completely by throwing in with Tony, the moment Frank has been deposed. She isn't ultimately happy with either Frank or Tony, conveying both relationships more as arrangements. Of course, her excessive cocaine habit doesn't fix anything. She's the only one, however, to come to her senses, when she tells Tony "We're losers." finally having had enough misery dressed as success.

Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio is also amazing for her few scenes. She convincingly shows us a girl content with a meager existence, who is instantly lured into "better" things. She's too naive for the world she's in, as Manny points out when he suggest to her that a guy who brings her to a bathroom stall to make out doesn't really "know how to treat a woman" She's blinded by the idea of having more and is happy to be a part of Tony's success not caring how he got it. In Manny she sees a "safer" version of success, but even if Manny had lived she would still be facing the same problems.Her final scene confronting Tony with little more than a bathrobe and a gun is one of the most powerful in the film.

Tony rides to the top on pure bluster and aggression, only to learn that there are still people more powerful and that having the things he wanted leaves him wanting, only more so, because his wants are now indefinable. He's used to "getting" and there's nothing left to get. Once money and things become pointless and you have the girl you wanted but don't want her anymore, where do you go next? His family is destroyed, along with all friendship, which leaves him nothing but a lot of expensive space to pace around in and plenty of cocaine which doesn't seem to help.

Tony knows nothing but to charge ahead, which is a useless talent when you're facing the wall. It's telling that in the end, despite numerous gunshots, Tony is put down by a shot from behind. His greatest strength was that he wouldn't back down, but that's useless when there's a shotgun behind you. So Tony does get "the world and everything in it," but the everything in it is more than he can handle. His own world is pretty limited, proving the same from beginning to end, his refusal to be "told what to do" is what gets him where he is and also what brings him down. He ends the same guy he started, only adding some possible regret, although not enough. He gets the world and everything in it, but we realize as he does that he missed a few important things along the way. All in all, a compelling story of an ugly man who could never be happy, however rich, living in his own skin. In Scarface's America you can "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" but there are consequences to the methods.

8 comments:

Paul S said...

Hi Brent it’s nice for me to read somebody elses review of a Pfeiffer film for a change.
Did you know Brian DePalma initially refused to audition Michelle for the role of Elvira because he’d seen her in Grease 2, luckily the producers got him to back down.I think Michele does a great job as the trophy wife and the rest of the supporting cast is excellent too,but obviously this film is all about Al Pacino’s Tony Montana and whether you love or hate Scarface nobody can deny that it’s one of the most influential films of the last 30 years.

Brent said...

Hi Paul, I hadn't heard that one, but I've heard some others. I heard her talk about how she ended up cutting Al Pacino in the audition that got her the role. I also heard that the producer required her to pay for her own flight out to prove she was confident in being right for the role (which they reimbursed her for later) It is all about Pacino, certainly, but it was a big break for her!

The Emotional Orphan said...

Ahhh....Love this movie. Makes me think back to my youth. No, not watching the movie in my youth, but getting blow from a guy just like Tony, except Colombian named Jaime. I wanted to be just like Tony when I grew up. Then I actually grew up. Jaime however, did not. Great review !!!

Peyton Farquhar said...

Awesome review, Brent! I think my favorite cinematic effect is the cheesy psycho music that's played whenever someone does something that annoys Tony...the sister, the best friend, etc. Then there is the notorious shower scene. We didn't have to see the gory details to cringe.

Sweepy Jean said...

Hi, Brent. Happy New Year!

You mention the "rise and fall" aspect of this and other movies like it. I think in all cases the anti-hero falls hard. But for me, none of their falls are as spectacular as this guy's. The image of him shooting his machine gun and cursing his assassins is unforgettable! You almost believe he can take everybody down, but you also know he is so very doomed!

Brent said...

@Jack, thanks for stopping by! I'm glad you liked it. Yeah that is a problem with "Tony's" despite the exciting trappings, growing up ceases to be an option!

Brent said...

@Peyton, lol. yeah the music is something. It's funny that everyone was so shocked at the chainsaw shower scene when we didn't see much at all. It's like cheesy music is Tony's jiminy cricket of impending doom.

Brent said...

Hi Sweepy! Most definitely! Before Scarface came out, there hadn't been a major "rise and fall of" movie in quite a while. The finale is amazing! I believe he would've taken them all if not for the guy sneaking up on him.