On August 31st, Fathom Events had a special nationwide screening of Scarface, presumably to celebrate the Blu-Ray release this month. As an Examiner, I was invited to attend, and I actually had never seen the movie. To be fair, it came out in theaters in 1983, four years before I was born, but since then it has become something of an iconic movie–so I was interested to see it. The screening I went to had a respectable 30 to 40 people attending, though I heard that the screening at another local theater only had about 10 to 15, and a featurette was played beforehand, giving away some plot points of the film to me. I enjoyed the movie, and it is probably one of the defining movies in Al Pacino’s career.
For those who don’t know the story: Tony Montana (Al Pacino, “You Don’t Know Jack”) comes to the United States on a boat from Cuba. He and his best friend Manny (Steven Bauer, “Primal Fear”) are put into a holding camp of sorts for immigrants, and Manny makes a deal with a drug lord that the lord will get them out if they kill an enemy of theirs who is being sent to the camp. After they get out, they start working at a small Cuban restaurant, and eventually said drug lord takes them to meet Frank (Robert Loggia, “Independence Day”), a big time gangster who ends up giving Tony his start in the cocaine industry. Frank’s girlfriend is Elvira (a very young Michelle Pfeiffer, “Hairspray”), and Tony immediately falls for her; he wants to marry her, but since she is with Frank, it’s a problem, because he knows that if he steals her from him, Frank will probably kill him.
The movie is a lot longer than it should be, but Pacino absolutely nails the role. It’s fun to see him and Michelle Pfeiffer (who was 25 at the time) so young, since I’ve seen them in a ton of other movies (for Pacino, most recently the TV movie “You Don’t Know Jack,” in which he was excellent in the role of Jack Kevorkian). What’s interesting is that when it was released in theaters, in 1993, critics billed it as the bloodiest/most violent movie ever; compared with today’s slasher flicks, however, it pales in comparison, though I had to admit the scene with the chainsaw was “over the top.” Scarface has survived the past 28 years and made a reputation for itself as a bona fide gangster movie, and I am sure that it will stand the test of time for upcoming years as well.
Scarface is rated R with a runtime of 170 minutes.
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