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Scarface Reviews

A beautiful, at times poetic exercise in excess from Brian De Palma. Based on the classic 1932 gangster film of the same name, the screenplay (written by Oliver Stone) follows the plot of its source almost to the letter. Two-bit Cuban hood Tony Montana (Pacino) lies his way into the US, where he and his friend Manny (Stephen Bauer) soon enter the world of crime. They murder a political figure for drug dealer Frank Lopez (Robert Loggia) to get their green cards and are soon on his payroll. Tony's elimination of rival Colombian drug dealers gives him a more prominent role in the organization. His duties include serving as chauffeur to Lopez's beautiful but cocaine-addicted wife, Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer). Tony's other female obsession is his sister Gina (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Tony's feelings for his sister are a bit on the incestuous side, and he dominates the girl, refusing to let her date. After a bad business deal and an argument over Elvira, Lopez attempts to have Tony killed. After killing the assassins, Tony murders Lopez, marries Elvira, and becomes the most powerful drug lord in Florida. The problems really begin to multiply then: Manny secretly dates Gina (though warned not to), Elvira has become increasingly zombie-like, and Tony's money is not earning the interest it should be. Moreover, he also has become a selfish, paranoid drug addict. Jammed with action sequences and unbearably tense moments, the film depicts the seediest aspects of the American underworld. Stone's screenplay twists gangster movie conventions, and De Palma demonstrates an unusual understanding of the genre. The latter's skill with the camera is certainly his strongest talent. Although not as flashy as some of his work (such as DRESSED TO KILL or CARRIE), it is a showboat of cinematic style (the most memorable composition is an overhead shot of Pacino soaking in an obscenely large bath tub). In addition to the high-octane action sequences, SCARFACE offers some excellent acting (especially from Loggia). An undeniably effective, visceral experience.