I adore Scarface, for me it’s up there with The Godfather and Goodfellas when it comes to gangster movies. As I talk to younger people, they either love it or hate it. And when the hate it, they really hate it.
I like De Palma as a director, even if I don’t like all his films I see enough in this, Carlito’s Way, Casualties of War, Dressed to Kill, The Untouchables and Body Double to suggest a major talent.
De Palma was always a funny one, he was one of the original movie brats alongside Spielberg and Lucas but I think he was always jealous of their box office success, so he tried to chase hits and finally hit big with Carrie (but not big enough).
He shouldn’t have been jealous and I think time will treat him well, while Spielberg was a box office champion and Lucas built an empire I often prefer De Palma’s films. Even the insane stuff like Raising Cain (which is really good fun). He may have stolen a style from Hitchcock, but he also built on that style.
So what’s to like about Scarface? Great score, great coke fuelled script written by Oliver Stone who was snorting enough to kill an elephant at the time. Great photography and supporting performances and (of course) Al Pacino stomping around chewing scenery and anything else he can get his chops around.
My favourite film critic David Thompson loves this film, he says it’s the film where De Palma realised his talent was always ready for an orgy. Actually, an orgy is just about the only thing this film has missing, it’s got everything else.
See it, more than once.
So, 35 films to go…
Matthew Cooper has written for Emmerdale, Eastenders, Hollyoaks and Family Affairs. He was winner of the first ever Lloyds Bank Channel Four Film Challenge and the Oscar Moore Screenplay Prize. His first short film starred a then unknown Ewan McGregor and was picked up by Channel Four when Matthew was 19 years old. He’s been a script writer for hire and filmmaker for hire for over 20 years.