Directed By: Brian De Palma
Written By: Oliver Stone
Somehow we managed to pass where this movie should have been on the shelf and didn’t notice when it wasn’t there. It dawned on me recently when I was in Mexico that we hadn’t reviewed this movie. I was listening to all the Spanish being spoken and suddenly thought of the classic Spanish speaking mobster from Cuba. Somewhere along the line I must have lent my copy of this movie to some asshole who never bothered to give it back.
I’m not entirely surprised we passed it without noticing. Don’t get me wrong, like any normal person, I love this movie. Nevertheless, I have always found its overwhelming popularity to be a bit annoying. This is a great movie but I don’t think it belongs in the same category as other mobster movies like The Godfather or Goodfellas. I would categorize it easily with a movie like Blow, but overall I think a movie about a drug dealer is fundamentally different than a movie about organized crime.
I would concede that Al Pacino might be better in this movie than he is in The Godfather movies but only because Tony Montana is a much louder character. A ruthless and unpredictable villain that simply outmatches the cold and calculating Michael Corleone when it comes to entertainment. The Don may have ordered a hit on his own brother, but Tony didn’t hesitate to personally kill his best friend at point blank range. Maybe the drugs had something to do with it in Tony’s case but it was just another move in Tony’s unpredictable behavior. Regardless which character is more entertaining I think it can be said that both are awesome. Al Pacino does a phenomenal job bringing both characters to life and he will be remembered forever for doing so.
When I was in college, like so many other people, I had a Scarface poster hanging in my apartment bedroom. Mine was huge and big enough to cover an entire window. I always had it draped over a window like a curtain so the black and white image of Tony Montana was always illuminated in my room. The image was from the end of the film, a tired and stoned Tony slouched at his desk behind a massive pile of cocaine. I still have the poster but it languishes away rolled up in some forgotten closet corner.
For the last ten years or so I have heard whispers about a possible remake of this film and I can’t stress enough how disappointing that would be. For a number of reasons it is the most ridiculous idea of all time. First would have to be how lame it is to make a remake of a remake. Yes we live in the era where studios have gotten so lazy they simply remake or reboot everything in order to cash in on name recognition but this is different. This is a classic movie that can’t simply be remade. You can’t recreate the writing of Oliver Stone or the performance of Al Pacino. Another reason being how you can’t recreate the 80s as they really were. One of the things I love about this movie is how it stands as a window into time. This movie is a picture of life in the early 80s and a modernized version would simply take away from something that was already great.
The newest news is that this movie is being remade with a script from the Coen brothers and Diego Luna set to star. Now if you’re going to redo Oliver Stone in his prime I can’t argue with the choice of the Coens. Two of the most clever writers there are, but I don’t think they are going to get involved with coke personally for inspiration. It is well known that Oliver Stone lived with his coke dealer for a while when preparing to write the movie and kicked the habit as he put pen to paper. I do really like Diego Luna, fresh off his Rogue One success, but he’d have to give the performance of a lifetime to win me over as a new Tony Montana. I have to admit I like the effort here in doing something special but I am still totally against it. It’s a travesty to sully a classic film with a new rendition.
I never understood why Steven Bauer didn’t reach greater heights as an actor. As one of the true Cubans in the film he was instrumental at not only bringing Manny Ribera to life but adding to the authenticity of the film with advice on his own culture. I have actually always liked Manny a little more than Tony Montana and hate the scene where he is gunned down. In a criminal organization you simply can’t replace a guy like Manny and Tony made a rash and critical decision when he murdered him over something stupid. As far as Steven Bauer goes I simply don’t know what ever happened to him. His career continued with many roles I haven’t seen myself but I always thought he was capable of more. This was one of the first movies he starred in and I simply can’t understand how it didn’t lead to much bigger things for him. The only other thing I have seen him in besides this movie was his awesome part as Don Eladio in Breaking Bad. I recognized him despite the aging that he has undergone and thought he was a perfect choice to be head of the Mexican cartel that was causing problems for the Chicken Man.
Like everybody else I love this movie for all the mobster shit but I like it too for it’s place in history. I like that Tony was part of a fool’s plan to bring over lots of immigrants from Cuba. After decades of conflict between Cuba and the United States it seemed inevitable that Cuba would clean out its prisons when it shipped people over to the states. I like that Tony is part of the Cuban Crime Wave and loved the scenes in Freedom Town. I was not alive when any of this went on but I think that’s part of what makes this movie great is it’s effort to cover something relevant at the time.
As hard as it is to believe I still come by people who have never seen this iconic movie. To those people I give a befuddled look of awe because I don’t know how they managed to miss it. This movie has been so influential over a wide range of media that I think those who haven’t seen it must be confused by a lot of things. If you haven’t seen this movie then it is a must watch. It’s a long one but it’s definitely worth your time to see it.