The Chicago Syndicate: Scarface
Showing posts with label Scarface. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scarface. Show all posts

Friday, April 20, 2018

Scarface Reunion with Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, @TheStevenBauer and Brian De Palma at #Tribeca2018

Scarface Reunion

Old "Scarface (Limited Edition)" friends said hello again at a 35th anniversary screening Thursday that reunited stars Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer and Steven Bauer and filmmaker Brian De Palma for an evening full of reflection on how the ferocious and garish gangster epic — like Tony Montana's rise from dishwasher to drug lord — has grown in stature.

The reunion, held at New York's Beacon Theatre, was one of the main events of the just kicked-off Tribeca Film Festival. The festival has made such anniversaries a regular feature in recent years, many of them celebrating classics of Tribeca co-founder Robert De Niro. But the "Scarface" event was for a movie De Niro reportedly turned down, and which now lives on as one of Pacino's maximum performances.

De Palma, the celebrated 77-year-old filmmaker of "Carlito's Way" and "The Untouchables," suggested the arc of Montana in "Scarface" was reminiscent of President Donald Trump's.

"I've always been interested about making movies about people who start rather humbly and then acquire a great deal of power and then ultimately isolate themselves and live in their own world. Could that be anything we're experiencing now?" said De Palma with a laugh.

The reunion wasn't without its hitches. When the post-screening panel moderator Jesse Kornbluth — as seemingly an opening to discuss Pfeiffer's character's gaunt, cocaine-snorting habits — asked the actress how much she weighed when making the film, boos echoed around the theater. But the affection the crowd had for "Scarface" was palpable throughout the evening, with applause bursting out frequently during the nearly three-hour film for favorite scenes and cherished lines.

De Palma's 1983 film, penned by Oliver Stone, was a remake of the Howard Hawks-directed 1932 gangster film of the same name. (De Palma even dedicated the film to Hawks and screenwriter Ben Hecht.) The project began with Pacino being enthralled by the original.

"I was completely taken with Paul Muni's performance," said Pacino. "After I saw that, I thought: I want to be Paul Muni. I want to act like that."

The idea to update the immigrant story to Cuban refugees in Miami came from filmmaker Sidney Lumet, who was briefly attached to direct. The Mariel boatlift in 1980 brought some 125,000 refugees to Florida from Fidel Castro's Cuba. (An updated, Los Angeles-set remake to "Scarface" has been rumored, with "Training Day" filmmaker Antoine Fuqua recently attached to direct a script by David Ayer, Jonathan Herman and Joel and Ethan Coen.)

De Palma's film was a box office hit, the 16th highest grossing film of the year. But it received mixed reviews. Though some, including Roger Ebert, raved about it, critics like David Ansen of Newsweek called it "grand, shallow, decadent entertainment." Yet for many, its reputation has grown over the years, especially on dorm-room walls and in hip-hop, where "Scarface" became a revered influence.

"It's caught on in such a way, and we have experienced it," said Pacino. "This wasn't the way it started. When 'Scarface' first came out, it was extremely controversial."

The hyper-violent film initially received an "X'' rating from the Motion Picture Association of America's ratings board. De Palma said he went through three edits on the film without receiving an "R'' rating before he and producer Martin Bregman decided to withdraw any changes.

"Marty said, 'We'll go to war with these people,'" said De Palma, still relishing the battle. "And that's what we did."

Some also took issue with how the film depicted Cuban immigrants as vicious drug-dealers at a time when many were trying to get a foothold in the United States.

"A lot of the old-school Cubans were concerned with me almost to the point that they weren't really sure that my participation in a Hollywood movie was worth me downgrading or degrading or tainting the image of their accomplishments in the new society," said the Cuban-born Bauer. "What I tried to convey to them was: Relax, man. It's a movie."

Pfieffer, too, said she's been asked over the years about playing a female character with so little agency in "Scarface."

"I felt that by allowing people to observe who this character is and the sacrifices that she's made said more (than) getting up on any soap box and preaching to people," said Pfeiffer.

The actress added that her experience acting alongside Pacino was life-changing.

"One of the things that hit me the strongest was watching him fiercely protect character, really at all costs and without any sort of apology," said Pfeiffer. "I have always tried to emulate that. I try to be polite about it. I think that's what really makes great acting."

Pacino also shared one of his most vivid memories. While filming the final shootout, he burned his hand badly enough to shut shooting down for two weeks. "I grabbed the barrel of the gun I just fired. My hand stuck to it. It just stuck to it," said Pacino. Pacino promptly left the set to be bandaged at a hospital.

"This nurse comes up to me later and she says, 'You're Al Pacino.' I said 'Yeah.' And she said, 'I thought you were some scumbag,'" Pacino recalled chuckling. "There's something there."

Monday, June 29, 2015

Tony Montana Has Game, Scarface - The World is Yours Collector's Edition Video Game

Video Game Tony Montana in Action
Gangster Tony Montana is iconic, extreme and exactly the way Vivendi Games sees its release "Scarface The World Is Yours Collector's Edition." Developers went to great lengths to infuse the project with all of the creativity and craftsmanship that go into a tentpole feature film.

The "Scarface" franchise was "built for the video game generation before video games existed," according to Universal Pictures chairman Marc Shmuger. "Now that technology and the audience have all caught up, we're hoping for great results."

"World," produced by Sierra Entertainment, allows players to assume the persona of the sneering, ruthless crime boss who stormed the screen in Brian De Palma's 1983 film amid a ferocious hail of bullets, blood and four-letter words.

Shmuger calls the game, which took three years to create, an "A-plus" production. Striving to adhere to the movie's spirit, story line, characters and locations to create a sequel of sorts, developers first answered the question: How does one build a game around a film in which the main character dies?

Screenwriter David McKenna was brought onboard to craft a game story worthy of the iconic drug lord. He proposed: What if Tony gets out of the movie's mansion shootout alive but with nothing -- no power, real estate or money?

According to "World" executive producer Pete Wanat, players must rebuild Tony's empire from scratch, earning back his cash, clout and crib. "They can pimp out his house however the player wants it done," he says.

Game developers painstakingly portrayed details in order to create a "fictional extension" of the film. "The fictional extension is not to tell the movie story but to fill in the blanks," says Bill Kispert, vp interactive at Universal Studios Consumer Products Group.

Locations such as Tony's mansion, the Babylon Club and the Sun Ray Motel are identical to those in the film, he adds. "Tony still hates Colombians, and he still has a propensity for dropping the F-word," Wanat says.

The biggest coup for Vivendi was bringing Al Pacino onboard to review the characters and other game elements. "World" marks the first time the actor has allowed his likeness to be used in a video game, according to Kispert.

Says Wanat: "Tony is a much-loved character. You have to nail that character -- it can't just be OK. It's gotta look like Tony, walk like Tony and talk like Tony."

Pacino insisted on bringing Tony's moral code into "World," especially given the popularity of violent video games such as those in the "Grand Theft Auto" franchise. "Scarface" has a body count of 42, but Tony does not hurt innocents -- and the game does not allow players to do so, either.

If a "World" player lines up an innocent woman and attempts to shoot her, Tony's voice will issue a reprimand like, "That goes against my code!" "If you did this game without that, it wouldn't be Tony Montana," Wanat says. But that does not mean the game version of Tony will take it easy on his enemies, or that there is a lack of action. "World" opens with a shootout scene at Tony's mansion and does not slow from there.

Striving to match De Palma's crisp colors and rich textures, Wanat and his team were supported by production values including THX sound, effects from Skywalker Sound, McKenna's script and musical licensing from top artists.

Rounding out the talent are about 40 Hollywood actors, many of whom requested to be a part of the game. Joining the film's Steven Bauer and Robert Loggia were Ricky Gervais, Elliott Gould, Oliver Platt, James Woods, the music industry's B Real, Ice-T, Ivy Queen and Lemmy of Motorhead and even popular NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.

A collectors' edition of "World" will be available for a limited time for PS2. The specially packaged set includes a bonus DVD featuring a "Making of the Game" documentary, a walk-through with producer commentary, cast interviews, playing tips and a map of the game world.

Thanks to Angelique Flores

Friday, June 19, 2015

Scarface Deluxe Gift Set

Scarface Deluxe Gift Set - Scarface (1983) & Scarface (1932)

Brian De Palma's blood-and-sun-drenched saga of a Cuban deportee’s rise to the top of Miami's cocaine business has become something of a popular classic since its releaseScarface Deluxe Gift Set; it's been referenced in rap songs and subsequent gangster movies and quoted the world over. Despite this lovefest with the dialogue, the film’s brutal violence and lack of positive characters still make it controversial and disliked by certain critics.

Al Pacino stars as Tony Montana, whose intelligence, guts, and ambition help him skyrocket from dishwasher to the top of a criminal empire but whose eventual paranoia and incestuous desire for his kid sister (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) prove his undoing. Michelle Pfeiffer plays Tony’s neglected coke-addicted trophy wife, and Steven Bauer is his concerned friend. F. Murray Abraham, Robert Loggia, and Paul Shenar are some of Tony’s sleazy business partners and potential killers. Oliver Stone wrote the expletive-packed screenplay, based on Howard Hawks’s 1932 version--which was ostensibly about Al Capone and starred Paul Muni and George Raft. The synth-heavy Giorgio Moroder score expertly evokes the drug-fueled decadence of 1980s Miami, and De Palma provides several of his elaborate set pieces, including a horrific showstopper in a motel room with a chain saw.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The "Scarface" Brand

What a difference 20 years makes. When Brian De Palma's "Scarface" hit theaters in 1983, it was panned by critics and earned a paltry $45.6 million at the domestic boxoffice -- enough to squeak by "Jaws 3-D" for the No. 16 position on the year-end rankings.

"We were trashed," says Martin Bregman, the film's producer. It was Bregman and Universal Pictures who had taken a chance on Oliver Stone's audacious script about a ruthless Cuban immigrant's rapid rise and fall in South Florida's underworld drug trade, and it was De Palma and star Al Pacino who had turned it into an operatic testament to the dark side of the American dream.

Today, "Scarface" resonates with a new generation of viewers that relates to the outsider status of Pacino's antihero and finds truth in the message of societal forces that reward -- however fleetingly -- aggression, naked ambition and greed.

Roger Ebert, one of the few reviewers to weigh in positively upon the film's initial release, lauded "Scarface" for its ability to "take a flawed, evil man and allow him to be human," writing in the Chicago Sun-Times that Pacino "does not make (Tony) Montana into a sympathetic character, but he does make him into somebody we can identify with in a horrified way, if only because of his perfectly understandable motivations. Wouldn't we all like to be rich and powerful, have desirable sex partners, live in a mansion, be catered to by faithful servants and hardly have to work? Well, yeah, now that you mention it." But most observers did not see so deeply into a story that, on its surface, contains entirely raw violence. Combined with a performance by Pacino that was trounced roundly as over-the-top, the violence generated a ripple of notoriety -- but not enough for the film to avoid becoming a commercial disappointment.

Universal Pictures chairman Marc Shmuger believes that "Scarface" was ahead of its time, suffering in the long shadow of Francis Ford Coppola's "Godfather" movies. To enter the epic gangster genre after 1972's "The Godfather" and 1974's "The Godfather: Part II" won a combined nine Academy Awards, he says, was an uphill battle.

Only later would "Scarface" find its niche among the broadband generation, which finds Tony's Cuban swagger more relatable than that of the old-school Corleones, who seem quaint by comparison. That youthful embrace has propelled "Scarface" into a marketing juggernaut, with more than 40 licensees in the U.S. alone that make everything from T-shirts, jackets and skullcaps to comic books, money clips and even a die-cast model of a Cadillac, complete with a miniature Tony Montana in his famous white suit and smoking a cigar.

Although the groundswell has bubbled up organically through bootleg goods, obscure musical references and the like, Universal's licensing group has been savvy enough to recognize an opportunity and take it to the next level. The latest installments in the "Scarface" merchandising phenomenon are the Vivendi video game "Scarface: The World Is Yours," set to hit store shelves Oct. 8, and Universal Studios Home Entertainment's planned Tuesday "Platinum Edition" DVD release, for which the film's sound effects and audio have been overhauled. Both products are launching into a market that has embraced "Scarface" as a part of pop culture.

The hip-hop community has adopted the film as its rags-to-riches morality tale, and clips from "Scarface" have appeared in countless movies and TV shows including the 2004 feature "Meet the Fockers," in which a precocious baby hits a remote control and changes the channel from a children's show to a blaze of bullets. "Scarface's" classic "money line" -- where Tony, about to open fire on a foe, sneeringly says, "Say hello to my little friend" -- has echoed around the globe.

"In one of my kids' middle school, there was a board, and every day there was a new quote -- by (William) Shakespeare, (Mahatma) Gandhi, people like that," Shmuger says. "One day, the quote was, 'Say hello to my little friend.' It has become a touchstone; it has left a lasting impression on our culture in ways that nobody could have imagined when it was originally released in 1983." Adds Bregman, "It's a major part of pop culture, and not just in this country: You can go to Israel and buy T-shirts with Pacino's face in every souvenir store."

"Scarface" was intended to be a remake of Howard Hawks' noirish 1932 mob drama of the same name, set in Chicago during that period. After producing 1973's "Serpico" and 1975's "Dog Day Afternoon," both starring Pacino, Bregman was seeking another vehicle for the actor. He approached De Palma, who began working on an adaptation with playwright David Rabe.

When it became clear that the script was not working, De Palma dropped out, and Stone and director Sidney Lumet were brought in. Lumet came up with the concept of moving the film to 1980s Miami and turning the Al Capone-inspired lead character into a Cuban refugee who makes his fortune in cocaine.

Stone, reportedly battling cocaine addiction at the time, took the idea and ran with it. When he submitted his draft, though, Lumet had problems with it -- so Bregman, who liked what Stone had written, turned back to De Palma.

De Palma liked Stone's graphic, violent script, and soon he and Pacino traveled to Miami, immersing themselves in the local culture. Big-screen newcomer Michelle Pfeiffer was cast as Pacino's girlfriend, and the supporting cast was filled out by several Latin Americans including Cuba-born Steven Bauer, then married to Melanie Griffith.

Crews began to set up the shoot in summer 1982, but trouble began almost immediately. A group of Cuban immigrants protested what they felt would be a slam on their culture, and a Miami city commissioner threatened to introduce a bill that would ban the shoot from taking place there unless Pacino's character was turned into a Communist spy sent by Fidel Castro.

An agreement was reached to screen "Scarface" before a group of Cuban-American leaders who could (and did) tag it with a disclaimer, but the filmmakers, fearing further repercussions, moved most of the production to Los Angeles. The Miami internment camp seen in the movie was built beneath the Santa Monica and Harbor freeways, and the Little Havana cafeteria in which Tony works is actually a restaurant in Los Angeles' Little Tokyo.

"Scarface" was pegged for U.S. release on Dec. 9, 1983, but the MPAA's Classification and Ratings Administration gave it an X rating that October for "cumulative violence," and the movie underwent several hasty edits. When the X rating stood after four go-rounds, the filmmakers appealed -- and the final vote was 17-3 in favor of an R rating, clearing the way for a wide release. But things would get worse: Reviews went from bad to scathing, and the filmmakers were lambasted for the movie's excessive violence.

"Even in our test screenings, the movie wasn't playing well," says Shmuger, who saw the film in a New York theater long before he joined Universal. "I was just stunned; I didn't know how to take it. 'The Godfather' had seemed so perfect and proper, but 'Scarface' just felt so aggressive."

"Scarface" earned only $4.6 million during its opening weekend and wound up grossing $45.6 million during its initial theatrical run -- hardly the makings of a blockbuster. Slowly but surely, though, a cult following developed, primarily among young urban audiences who kept coming back for repeat viewings.

In 2003, while preparing the release of a 20th anniversary "Scarface" DVD, Universal conducted a second round of test screenings -- and met with markedly different results.

"We put a print in front of audiences on the West Coast and the East Coast because we wanted to see if it would stand up as a theatrical release again in Los Angeles and New York, and scores were through the roof," Shmuger says. "The movie hadn't changed; what had changed was the audience and the culture."

Not only was the graphic violence more palatable to viewers raised on films like 1994's "Natural Born Killers" and video games like Midway's "Mortal Kombat" franchise, but also the premise of "Scarface" resonated among the test-screen throng.

"The whole story of trying to fight your way up, by hook or by crook or by violence -- of doing anything to achieve the American dream -- became something of an anthem to the hip-hop culture," Shmuger says. And the film's authenticity has endured. Says Bregman, "What makes all this possible, 23 years later, is a movie that is very much still a fresh and hot property."

Thanks to Thomas K. Arnold

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