Scarface is a 1983 American crime film directed by Brian De Palma and written by Oliver Stone, a remake of the 1932 film of the same name. The film tells the story of Cuban refugee Tony Montana (Al Pacino) who arrives in 1980s Miami with nothing and rises to become a powerful drug kingpin. The cast also features Michelle Pfeiffer, Steven Bauer, Robert Loggia, F. Murray Abraham and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio.
Scarface was released on December 9, 1983 and grossed $44 million at the domestic box office. Initial critical reception was negative, with criticism over excessive violence and profanity and graphic drug usage. Some Cuban expatriates in Miami objected to the film’s portrayal of Cubans as criminals and drug traffickers.
In the years that followed, the film has received reappraisal from critics, and is now considered by some to be one of the best films in the crime genre. Screenwriters and directors such as Martin Scorsese have praised the film, which has been referenced extensively in pop culture, especially in rap and hip hop music as well as comic books, TV and video games. The film has long since become a cult classic.
In 1980, Cuban refugee and ex-convict Antonio “Tony” Montana arrives in Miami, Florida as part of the Mariel boatlift, where he is sent to a refugee camp with his best friends, Manny Ribera, Angel and Chi-Chi. The four are released and given green cards in exchange for murdering a former Cuban general at the request of Miami drug dealer Frank Lopez. They become dishwashers in a diner, to Tony’s disgust, proclaiming he is meant for bigger things.
Frank’s right-hand man, Omar Suarez, gives them a job: purchase cocaine from Colombian dealers, but the deal goes bad. Angel is dismembered with a chainsaw, while Manny and Chi-Chi rescue Tony and kill the Colombians. Suspecting that Omar set them up, Tony and Manny insist on personally delivering the recovered drugs and money to Frank. During their meeting, Tony is attracted to Frank’s trophy wife, Elvira Hancock. Frank hires and befriends Tony and Manny.
Months later, Tony is reunited with his mother Georgina and younger sister Gina, of whom he is fiercely protective. Disgusted by his life of crime, Georgina throws Tony out. Manny is attracted to Gina, but Tony tells him to stay away from her.
Frank sends Tony and Omar to Cochabamba to meet with cocaine kingpin Alejandro Sosa. Tony negotiates a deal without Frank’s approval, angering Omar, who leaves to contact Frank. Sosa claims that Omar is a police informant and that Frank is weak; Tony witnesses a beaten Omar hanged from a helicopter. Tony vouches for Frank’s organization and Sosa, taking a liking to Tony, agrees to the deal, but not before warning Tony to never betray him.
Back in Miami, Frank is infuriated by Omar’s demise and the unauthorized deal struck by Tony. At a nightclub, corrupt detective Mel Bernstein attempts to extort money from Tony in return for police protection and information. Tony angers Frank further by openly pursuing Elvira in the club. Spotting Gina with her boyfriend, Tony angrily beats the two of them. Hitmen attempt to assassinate Tony, but he escapes. Tony, certain that his boss sent both Bernstein and the assassins, confronts Frank, with Manny and Chi-Chi in tow. At gunpoint, Frank confesses to the attempted hit and begs for his life, but he and Bernstein are killed.
Tony marries Elvira and becomes the distributor of Sosa’s product. He builds a multimillion-dollar empire, living in a vast, heavily guarded estate. By 1983, however, Tony becomes dissatisfied with his lifestyle and cocaine addiction. His money launderer demands a greater percentage, while Manny resents Tony’s growing paranoia and abusive treatment of Elvira. A sting by Federal agents results in Tony being charged with tax evasion, with an inevitable prison sentence. Sosa offers to use his government connections to keep a desperate Tony out of prison, but only if Tony assassinates a journalist intending to expose Sosa. Later, Tony, during a public dinner, accuses Manny of causing his arrest and Elvira of being an infertile junkie, causing Elvira to leave him. He travels to New York City to carry out the assassination with Sosa’s henchman, Alberto, who plants a radio-controlled bomb under the journalist’s car. However, the journalist is unexpectedly accompanied by his wife and children. Disgusted, Tony kills Alberto before he can detonate the bomb and returns to Miami.
An enraged Sosa calls Tony to promise retribution. Tony, at his mother’s behest, tracks down Gina. Tony finds Manny with Gina; in a fit of rage, Tony kills Manny, after which Gina tearfully tells Tony that she and Manny had just got married the day before and wanted to surprise him. A stunned Tony returns to his mansion, bringing Gina along, and begins a massive cocaine binge by himself in his office. While Sosa’s men begin attacking the mansion, a drugged Gina appears and accuses Tony of wanting her for himself and attempts to kill him, but is slain by one of Sosa’s men, who is in turn killed by Tony. With Tony’s men all dead and assassins outside, Tony turns a grenade launcher-equipped M16A1 on Sosa’s men, mowing down many. Tony is repeatedly shot by the remaining attackers, but continues to taunt them until he is fatally shot from behind by the shotgun-wielding assassin known as The Skull. His limp body falls into a fountain below, in front of a statue reading “The World is Yours”.
- Al Pacino as Tony Montana
- Steven Bauer as Manny Ribera
- Michelle Pfeiffer as Elvira Hancock
- Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Gina Montana
- Paul Shenar as Alejandro Sosa
- Robert Loggia as Frank Lopez
- Míriam Colón as Mama Montana
- F. Murray Abraham as Omar Suárez
- Harris Yulin as Mel Bernstein
- Ángel Salazar as Chi-Chi
- Pepe Serna as Angel Fernandez
- Michael P. Moran as Nick the Pig
- Al Israel as Hector the Toad
- Mark Margolis as Alberto the Shadow
- Geno Silva as The Skull
- Dennis Holahan as Jerry
- Ted Beniades as Seidelbaum
- Gregg Henry as Charles Goodson
Scarface was released theatrically in North America on December 9, 1983. The film earned $4.5 million from 996 theaters during its opening weekend, an average of $4,616 per theater, and ranking as the second-highest-grossing film of the weekend behind Sudden Impact ($9.6 million), which debuted the same weekend. It went on to earn $45.4 million in North America and $20.4 million from other markets, for a total of $65.8 million. This figure made Scarface the 16th highest-grossing film of 1983, and seventh highest grossing R-rated film in North America for 1983.