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SCARFACE (1983) 
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Post SCARFACE (1983)
Click here for the review of Scarface (1983)

Part of the "1980s" series.


Wed Apr 08, 2009 5:38 pm
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Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
I think my main problem with Scarface is that it's too damned long. Two hours and I can see it as an entertaining cartoon...at it's current length it's a really boring one.


Wed Apr 08, 2009 5:50 pm
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
Boo.


I see your points, but I absolutely love Scarface, even moreso than The Untouchables, because I think it is a truly visceral and violent film which condemns it's character's actions (the shower scene, yes, is one of the most unsettling of the 80's) and presents a very convincing aura of hellfire, whereas the latter film approaches violence with a detached sensiblity (almost artiness). To me, this weakens the tension of any and all character confrontations incredibly. The Untouchables may be better made technically, but Scarface is more involving.


Last edited by Evenflow8112 on Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Apr 08, 2009 5:55 pm
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
My comments:

1. Some people like this movie because they see it as a product of its time. They see it as a representative of the excess of the 1980's with all the drugs, violence, etc.

2. People like Pacino as Tony because I think Tony is intended to be a "larger than life" type of character. A character who dreams big is acting big so to speak. On that basis, having Pacino be over-the-top fits with the character. Some people like to watch gangster movies because they want to cheer on the bad guy. Having a bad guy who is so charismatic and plays by his own rules can be appealing to watch. Some people think Tony is one of the ultimate villains in a movie. I mean the guy did hard time in prison, survived assassination attempts, kills a corrupt cop, takes initiative, obeys his own codes of right and wrong (not killing the wife and kids in the car bombing), etc. He does a lot of things you don't see other gangster do in gangster movies. People love how Tony is defiant to the end even when he's mercilessly attacked and has no chance at survival near the end of the movie.

3. I didn't think the other actors were bad. But they, that's just my opinion. Some people like the performances of Loggia, Abraham, Yulin, Mastrantonio, etc. since they have their share of memorable dialogue and moments. Some of the actors are better than some of the others, but at least they have their moments.

4. This movie has become so influential that many people in the rap and hip-hop world are influenced by it. They like it because they see it as the American dream and how one person got it with such determination.

5. Some people find this movie appealing because it's the story of one man's rise and fall in such a dangerous and disturbing world. Plus, during the time it's not often you found a movie dealing with the world of cocaine and violence in 1980's Miami. What's interesting is how someone gets everything and yet ends up alone and loses their soul when they reach the top.

6. Some people like the movie because it's just so darn excessive and over-the-top that it's fun to watch. The profanity, violence, acting, etc. They simply find it fun and entertaining.


Last edited by ck100 on Wed Apr 08, 2009 11:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Wed Apr 08, 2009 6:10 pm
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
The 80's were certainly not kind to Pacino. First he had the controversy over Cruising. Then Scarface underperformed. And finally Revolution was hated by most of those who actually saw it. Thank god for Sea of Love lol.

I agree with a number of James points. Scarface is over the top and campy. And those reasons are probably why it is so popular. The filmmakers celebrate the excess that the film is supposedly denouncing. De Palma is referred to by Tarantino as one of Hollywood's greatest satirists. Maybe that was the point of the film.

I remember reading up how Oliver Stone was critical of the final cut of the film. He felt that De Palma should have approached the film in the style of a documentary. Maybe this would have led to a number of the over the top elements being toned down.


Wed Apr 08, 2009 6:24 pm
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
Love ya James, but couldn't disagree more. :P


Wed Apr 08, 2009 7:54 pm
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
I thought Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio was gorgeous in this movie.

Scarface is the very first DVD I ever owned


Wed Apr 08, 2009 8:51 pm
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
sclark78 wrote:
I remember reading up how Oliver Stone was critical of the final cut of the film. He felt that De Palma should have approached the film in the style of a documentary. Maybe this would have led to a number of the over the top elements being toned down.

Yeah, look at his Alexander, eh. ;) IMO de Palma did the right thing by ramping everything up to 11. Better a campy, over-the-top but entertaining film, than a technically-proficient but detached one.


Wed Apr 08, 2009 10:56 pm
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
I understand JB's reasoning, but I have to disagree on a few points.

In my opinion, Scarface clearly is a period film. Doesn't it start with mentioning a specific early 1980ies Cuban refugee crisis? Also, the garish clothes and attire as well as the synth score emphasise the decade. I don't think the producers of the film would have asked Giorgio Moroder to write the score unless they had in mind to create a then contemporary 80ies soundtrack.

I also think that JB did not pay enough attention to the drug Tony Montana is dealing: cocaine. I've never taken cocaine and don't intend to do so, but I have witnessed people who used cocaine and they all turned into extremely overconfident, over the top parodies of themselves. This is nicely reflected by the copious amount of cocaine snorted by Tony Montana, particularly in the end where he dumps his head in a mountain of the devil's dandruff. I've read an interview with Oliver Stone in which he admitted to having written Scarface at a time when he was in a personal crisis due to using cocaine.

In short: In my opinion, Scarface is a satire of the 1980ies version of the American Dream. It's an over the top rags to riches story (as JB has stated correctly). Anything else but an over the top presentation would not have worked. But that's just my opinion.


Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:49 am
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
The first time i watched this i'd already seen Goodfellas, Casino and numerous other films about a gangster/criminal's rise and fall and i have to say it did nothing new for me. Whilst it was very violent and in some parts entertaining i couldnt care about any of the characters and i still think it's overrated, overlong and over the top.


Thu Apr 09, 2009 5:53 am
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Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
Although I can't disagree with any of JB's points, in the end I would rate it much higher than he does. Scarface succeeds despite its problems for at least two reasons.

1. I can't think of a movie that showcases conspicuous consumption better than Scarface. The zoo animals on Tony's estate, the bags and bags of money, Tony's face stuck in the enormous mound of cocaine (one of the most satirized scenes of any 80's movie): all of these represent 80's excesses better than anything else I can remember.

2. Yes, Pacino chews the scenery; his acting is way over the top. But the character is simply an irresistible force of nature. Like a train wreck, you just can't stop watching him. In the beginning, you pull for Tony as an underdog; by the end, you're completely fascinated by his self-destruction, and you're rooting for this punk to "get what's coming to him."

Essentially, this is one of those "critic-proof" movies.


Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:23 am
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Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
Unke wrote:
In my opinion, Scarface clearly is a period film. Doesn't it start with mentioning a specific early 1980ies Cuban refugee crisis? Also, the garish clothes and attire as well as the synth score emphasise the decade. I don't think the producers of the film would have asked Giorgio Moroder to write the score unless they had in mind to create a then contemporary 80ies soundtrack.


When James said this isn't a period film, I thought he meant that it was made in, what was then, current times. It wasn't necessarily trying to be true to a particular era, it was just being modern.


Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:56 pm
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
The original SCARFACE by Hawks was modelled on Al Capone and the story of Tony Camonte's obsession with his sister(which is implied incest in the original) was based on the story of Cesare Borgia and his sister Lucrezia from Renaissance Italy.

DePalma's film is intentionally over-the-top and campy. Pacino's performance is in the mould of Joan Crawford and the reason it feels cartoonish is the kind of story that made the first SCARFACE(set during the Depression when the public rooted for the gangsters over politicians and banks for whom the cops worked) such a remarkable tragedy is obsolete in the 80s with the international level of corruption of that decade. A small hood's rise and fall is totally meaningless in that world which is why the film is so garish.

The ending is a fair parody of gangster films not only the original SCARFACE but also THE ROARING TWENTIES, HIGH SIERRA and of course WHITE HEAT. The great immortal death scene of a gangster was the film-makers way of getting around censorship that insisted gangsters get punished, treating the death of these punks and hotshots with the weight of Greek heroes. Only in DePalma he gets killed by bigger crooks with better guns.


Fri Apr 10, 2009 10:50 am
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
I wish DePalma had directed ALEXANDER. Tangentally, I'd be curious to get into a discussion of the varying cuts of ALEXANDER to sort of explore how someone like Stone goes about trying to "save" his vision by butchering and fragmenting it. Cherish the theatrical cut, because it's the only borderline coherent version of the movie out there.

I've never seen SCARFACE, but I intend to very soon. It sounds exactly like the type of trainwreck that I tend to enjoy (see HEAVEN'S GATE and DUNE for other examples of movies that I enjoy way more than I should). As someone who lives and works in Baltimore City, I find the assimilation of the character to be a little bit unnerving. I'm sure that the camp factor makes it palatable and entertainng to young, urban viewers, but I don't think that the air brush painted images of Pacino's Scarface that I see on hoodies and jackets are intended to be ironic.


Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:57 pm
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
I never "got" this movie. I was too young to see it when it came out but remember hearing a buzz about it when I was old enough to see movies in it's genre. I eventually got around to it, expecting some great masterpiece and what I found was a mess. It's over the top and just not all that satisfying. In my humble opinion, it's simply just not that good and very overrated.


Sat Apr 11, 2009 4:31 pm
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
This probably one of the most overrated movies by my generation. I first saw it with a bunch of friends my freshmen year of college. They all swore it was awesome and great but I found it to be one of the dumbest things I've ever seen. Pacino is basically in extreme scene chewing mode, I guess figuring that if he goes over the top it will result in good performance? Most of the other actors stink and the plot is uninteresting, and I was just generally underwhelmed. So many people hype this movie, and it doesn't deserve any of it.


Sun Apr 12, 2009 5:41 pm
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
BrianB wrote:
Unke wrote:
In my opinion, Scarface clearly is a period film. Doesn't it start with mentioning a specific early 1980ies Cuban refugee crisis? Also, the garish clothes and attire as well as the synth score emphasise the decade. I don't think the producers of the film would have asked Giorgio Moroder to write the score unless they had in mind to create a then contemporary 80ies soundtrack.


When James said this isn't a period film, I thought he meant that it was made in, what was then, current times. It wasn't necessarily trying to be true to a particular era, it was just being modern.


Maybe period movie is the wrong term. I would argue that Scarface is about 80ies attitudes, satirizes aspects of 80ies culture and underlines this by 80ies fashion and music. Even if this was supposed to allude to then contemporary issues, it is about the 80ies, similarly to how a 1970ies conspiracy thriller is about 1970ies attitudes.


Mon Apr 13, 2009 4:42 am
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
Having just seen Scarface for the first time last night, I'd give it a 6/10, with 5 as average. Some scenes, such as the chainsaw scene, restaurant scene and final scenes with Frank manage to be incredibly compelling. Unfortunately, all of these are located in the first 2/3s of the movie. Once Tony becomes top dog, it seemed to me liked the campy, cartoonish direction De Palma was using clashed head-on with the themes of broken dreams and greed Stone's screenplay was trying to focus on. The last scene especially blew everything Stone was trying to say out of water, and by the time Scarface ended the whole thing was practically just a big, lame joke. I think it's somewhat ironic that De Palma's over-the-top direction gives Scarface all of it's great moments and also ends up destroying the movie in the end. Kind of like how Tony's "balls of steel" and greed took him to the top at first but ended up causing all his problems in the end. Something to think about.


Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:52 pm
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
I'm curious about something? Has anyone play Scarface: The World is Yours? It's a good game.


Mon Apr 13, 2009 6:43 pm
Post Re: SCARFACE (1983)
Scarface is like Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon in that it's become a brand of clothing; something that's cool to have heard of and claim to like.

The difference is that whereas TDSotM is actually good, Scarface isn't. It's a three hour movie entirely devoted to a static, annoying character who has so many flaws that they completely erase and legitimate themes the film was trying to promote. It's a very boring, unrewarding thing to see.


Tue Apr 14, 2009 12:32 pm
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