Say Hello Again to His Little Friend
'Scarface' blasts its way back to the big screen
Personally I prefer Howard Hawks 1932 original – with George Raft, Paul Muni, and Boris Karloff, what's not to love? But let's face it, it's Brian De Palma's operatic 1983 Scarface that's withstood the test of time, and, to be fair, it's an outrageously entertaining exploitation film conceived and executed by a master filmmaker. A veritable orgy of bullets, blood, bombs, the word "fuck" in all its glorious permutations, sex, drugs, and naked illegal immigrant ambition, De Palma's updating of Hawk's classic for the greed-consumed Reagan era has grown into a pop-cultural (F) bomb of nuclear proportions.
And it's not just Al Pacino's take-prisoners-but-torture-them-before-you-snuff-'em performance that makes Scarface so endlessly, effortlessly watchable. It was then-fledgling director (The Hand) and writer Oliver Stone's seething, subtext-bloated screenplay that put the words in Tony Montana's mouth. "Say hello to my little friend" wasn't just a firepower boast; in Stone's testosterone-engorged script, it's all about the power of the bang – sexual, phallic, conniving, and, ultimately, utterly tragic. Death becomes Tony Montana – before Tony Montana becomes death, that is. Scarface, for better or for worse, is as much a part of one generation's pop-culture landscape as Star Wars has become for another's. Fuck the force. Tony Montana (the bad guy, remember?) has his little friend, his mountains of blow, black-hearted immigrant striving, and Michelle Pfeiffer. Countless references to everything from hip-hop (Scarface, ad nauseam) to punk (Blink-182 took its name from the number of times Al Pacino sneers the word "fuck") to parodies galore (YouTube it: There's gotta be at least a thousand of 'em), De Palma's film is the glossy grindhouse flick that Just. Won't. Die.
Tony fucking Montana, immigrant outlaw and evil motherfucker trapped in a world entirely of his own creation, both onscreen and off. Turns out the fucking world is his after all. WTF?
Fathom Events will screen Scarface in a restored, HD transfer with enhanced 7.1 audio and "bonus extra features" on Wednesday, Aug. 31, at select theatres. See Film Listings for Austin locations.