Scarface (R)

Action/Adventure 170 min. December 9, 1983
By Rob Nelson
Like it or not, this satirically baroque, borderline campy, and outlandishly ultraviolent remake (1983) is a central component of the pop culture pantheon. By the early Nineties, Al Pacino's heavily accented, highly quotable dialogue (penned by Oliver Stone) had resurfaced in black action films such as New Jack City and Deep Cover--but more profoundly in the soundbite collages of numerous gangsta rappers from Tupac to Paris and Snoop Dogg. "Say hello to my little friend!" and "Say good night to the bad guy!" became macho mantras to these hip-hop artists. And no wonder: With Pacino's Cuban immigrant Tony Montana as (anti-)heroic Other, the "new" Scarface sampled the spirit of Seventies blaxploitation as much as that of the prohibition-era crime genre. Indeed, the sardonic humor with which director Brian De Palma spikes his very slow, blatantly predictable rise-and-fall narrative recalls nothing so much as Superfly and The Mack. No less a natural-born martyr than his screenwriter, De Palma has exaggerated the extent to which his film was vilified in the press, perhaps still feeling stung by the betrayal of his greatest champion, Pauline Kael, who deemed it "a druggy spectacle--manic yet exhausted." Which it most certainly is, but in a good way. (Rob Nelson)
Brian De Palma Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia, Miriam Colon, F. Murray Abraham, Paul Shenar, Harris Yulin, Ángel Salazar Oliver Stone Martin Bregman Universal Films


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