Carlito’s Way was released in 1993, I remember seeing it at the cinema in Leeds. I was 19 years old and I recall wanting to own a leather jacket like the one Al Pacino wears in the movie (I eventually got one similar when I was about 28!).
The film, directed by Brian De Palma, is based on the really great books of Edwin Torres (I read the books too) and this is one of my favourite films of the 1990s. It’s also that rare beast of a romantic gangster film which appeals as much to women as it does to men.
Al Pacino is great in the lead role, and Penelope Ann Miller is lovely as the girl. The show is stolen slightly by Sean Penn who plays a character that he later admitted he didn’t like, but he plays the part with such scene stealing relish.
The story is simplistic, hackneyed and has been done many times. The gangster/criminal released from jail who wants to go straight, it’s a cliché, but it’s never been done this well with this much cinematic fun contained within in it.
The film has great music, great production design and costumes. Standout is the photography by Stephen H Burum, when I watch this film on DVD or Blu-ray at home I’m constantly reminded of how great it looked in what was then, a smoke filled cinema back in the 90s.
See this film and admire the great script too, written by David Koepp.
So, 92 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.