1. When Scarface (1983) was re-released in theaters in 2003, the studio wanted Brian De Palma to change the soundtrack so that rap songs inspired by the movie could be used. De Palma refused.
2. When director Brian De Palma submitted the film to the MPAA, they gave it an “X rating”. He then made some cuts and resubmitted it a second time; again the film was given an “X rating” (one of the reasons apparently being that Octavio the clown was shot too many times). He yet again made some further cuts and submitted it a third time; yet again it was given an “X”. De Palma refused to cut the film any further to qualify it for an R. He and producer Martin Bregman arranged a hearing with the MPAA. They brought in a panel of experts, including real narcotics officers, who stated that the film was an accurate portrayal of real life in the drug underworld and should be widely seen. This convinced the 20 members of the ratings board to give the third submitted cut of the film an “R rating” by a vote of 18-2. However, De Palma surmised that if the third cut of the film was judged an “R” then the very first cut should have been an “R” as well. He asked the studio if he could release the first cut but was told that he couldn’t. However since the Studio execs really didn’t know the differences between the different cuts that had been submitted, De Palma released the first cut of the film to theaters anyway. It wasn’t until the film had been released on videocassette months later that he confessed that he had released his first unedited and intended version of the film.
3. Oliver Stone wrote this film while fighting a cocaine addiction.
4. In the scene where Tony is in the bathtub watching TV, he says to Manny, “Look at dem pelicangs fly.” This line was what Al Pacino practiced with a language coach to get the Cuban accent right.
Robert De Niro was offered the lead role but
turned it down.
6. Tony’s “little friend” is an M16 assault rifle with an M203 40mm grenade launcher attached to the barrel.
7. The prop firearms were equipped with electronic synchronizing devices so that they would only fire when the camera shutter was open. The result was that the guns’ muzzle flashes are much more visible and consistent than in most movies.
8. The word “yeyo” is used by Tony Montana (Al Pacino) as a slang word for cocaine. This word was not in the script, and was ad-libbed by Pacino during the first drug deal scene (chainsaw scene), and Brian De Palma liked it enough to keep using it throughout the film. Pacino learned the word while learning the Cuban accent.
Al Pacino reportedly stated that Tony Montana
was one of his favorites of all the characters he’s played.
10. Despite the title, Tony Montana is called “Scarface” only once throughout the movie, and in Spanish at that (“Caracicatriz”).
11. Gina Montana (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) actually makes her first appearance during the beach scene. At around 44 minutes, Manny Ribera (Steven Bauer) is seen observing a woman from behind. That woman is Gina Montana. Director Brian De Palma states that the appearance is supposed to be the first indication of Gina’s promiscuity.
12. The international corporation set up by Saddam Hussein to launder money from his various enterprises was called Montana Management after the Scarface (1983) main character.
Miriam Colon, who plays Tony’s mother, is
only four years older than Al Pacino.
14. To help stay in character, Al Pacino asked director of photography John A. Alonzo to speak to him only in Spanish.
15. The cocaine used throughout the shooting of the film was supposed to be dried milk, but that couldn’t be used because it didn’t fit well when the scene was shot. Director Brian De Palma refuses to admit what substance was ultimately used for cocaine out of fear that it would destroy the illusion of realism.
16. Steven Spielberg operated one of the cameras in the final scene because he happened to be on the set the day that scene was filmed.
17. According to the “scorecard” feature on the Platinum Edition DVD, the word “fuck” and its derivatives are used 226 times for an average of 1.32 fucks per minute.
18. Brian De Palma liked the script so much that he dropped out of directing Flashdance (1983) to direct this film.
19. A majority of the film was shot in Los Angeles, California, standing in for Miami, Florida. This was done because production would have been endangered by protests from angry Cuban-Americans over the film’s reported subject matter. Streets and buildings used for shooting were redressed by the art directors to have the “feel” of Miami.
20. Oliver Stone named Tony Montana after his favorite football player, Joe Montana.
21. Scarface was actually a nickname of Al Capone who was an Italian-American gangster.
22. Although Tony Montana is supposed to be Cuban, making his first language Spanish, he only speaks one line of Spanish during the entire movie.
This film is dedicated to Ben Hecht and
Howard Hawks, the writer and director of the original Scarface (1932)).
24. Sidney Lumet was the first choice to direct this film but he backed out. It was Lumet’s idea to make the characters Cuban and to include the 1980 Mariel harbor boat lift in the story.
25. During filming F. Murray Abraham was notified that he had won the part of Antonio Salieri in Amadeus (1984) by director Milos Forman. Abraham later noted that he immediately noticed that he immediately began being treated with a great deal of respect by the crew on “Scarface” because it was a highly coveted part for which many top actors had auditioned.
26. There was a huge controversy in the city of Miami during the making of the film over whether the producers should be allowed to shoot in the city. The Miami Tourist Board decided not to allow filming, as they were afraid the movie would discourage tourism to Miami, particuarly as it showed Miami’s latest Cuban immigrants as gangsters and drug dealers.
27. Steven Bauer is the only actual Cuban in the principal cast. Among the other principal cast members who portray Cubans, Al Pacino, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and Robert Loggia are Italian-American; Miriam Colon is Puerto Rican, and F. Murray Abraham (whose character is of unspecified Hispanic or Latino descent) is Assyrian and Italian-American. Additionally, Angel Salazar, who plays Chi-Chi in the supporting cast is Cuban-American. Both Bauer and Salazar were often consulted by their co-stars and director Brian De Palma for advice on Cuban attitudes and culture.
28. Al Pacino worked with experts in knife combat, trainers, and boxer Roberto Duran to attain the body type that he wanted for his role. Duran also helped inspire the character, who had “a certain lion in him”, according to Pacino. Steven Bauer and a dialect coach helped him learn aspects of the Cuban Spanish language and pronunciation
29. According to producer Martin Bregman, the only shot removed from the “chainsaw scene” was that of a dismembered arm hanging from the shower curtain rod as the camera pans over to Hector, thereby establishing his line “And now the leg, huh?” The arm is visible in a production photo of actor Al Israel (Hector).
Ranked #10 on the American Film Institute’s
list of the 10 greatest films in the genre “Gangster”. Scarface (1932), the version
starring Paul Muni, was ranked #6 in June 2008.
31. In the opening sequence with Tony Montana (Al Pacino) and the immigration officers, Charles Durning’s voice has clearly been used to overdub an actor playing one of the officers. Another of the officers is dubbed by Brian De Palma’s regular Dennis Franz. If you listen carefully, Al Pacino also had to overdub his own voice at three or four different points in the same scene.
32. Rosanna Arquette, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Melanie Griffith, Kim Basinger, Kathleen Turner and Jodie Foster all turned down the role of Elvira Hancock. Brooke Shields was also offered the role, but her mother Teri Shields made her turn the offer down.
Tony Montana’s frequent epithet “maricón” is
a homophobic slur, equal to “faggot” in English.
34. The original idea was to make this film a remake of Scarface (1932), which took place in Chicago, but this proved to be impossible due to budget constraints.
35. In the film, Tony buys a Porsche to impress Elvira. In the original script, he buys a red Jaguar.
36. Lana Clarkson is credited as one of the women in the Babylon Club scene, which features an intense gunfight. Twenty years later in 2003, she would be shot to death by legendary music producer Phil Spector at his home in Los Angeles. Al Pacino portrayed Spector in Phil Spector (2013).
37. Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher, Kelly McGillis and Sharon Stone auditioned for the role of Elvira Hancock.
38. The picture of Gen. Cocombre that the cocaine investigator shows during his interview that Sosa shows to Tony and the rest of his guests, is in fact of Col. Luis Arce Gómez, who was an actual member of the infamous “Cocaine Coup” that ran Bolivia from 1981-82.
39. Producer Martin Bregman, in the book ‘Scarface Nation’, revealed that Glenn Close was the original choice for the role of Elvira, but he was dissatisfied because he thought she would be “only half a hooker”.
40. One of the last four-track magnetic stereo releases (if not the last).
41. The Spanish title of the film, “El Precio del Poder”, literally translates to “The Price of Power”.
42. David Rabe wrote an early draft of the script which was closer to the original film Scarface (1932).
Al Pacino used Meryl Streep’s portrayal of an
immigrant in Sophie’s Choice (1982) as inspiration for his portrayal of Tony.
Reportedly, John Travolta met with Al Pacino
in New York in 1981 about appearing in this movie.
45. This film has been an influence on hip-hop culture and rap music since the late 1980s. The Houston-area rap group The Geto Boys sampled several lines into their rap songs, and one rapper (Brad Jordan aka Scarface, now the CEO of Def Jam South) in the group took the name of this film as his stage name. Many rappers, including Sean Combs and Eminem, claim this is their favorite film.
46. Nancy Allen was considered for the role of Elvira, but Brian De Palma turned her down after the box-office failure of Blow Out (1981).
47. Steven Bauer and Mark Margolis both also star in Breaking Bad (2008).
48. Two of the songs played in the film--”Shake it Up” and “I’m Hot Tonight”--are performed by then-21-year-old Elizabeth Daily.
Included among the “1001 Movies You Must See
Before You Die”, edited by Steven Schneider.
50. Tony Montana’s Porsche is an early 928. Porsche produced various versions of the 928 from 1976 to 1995.
51. The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Al Pacino and F. Murray Abraham; and four Oscar nominees: Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia and Charles Durning.
52. The signed picture of former U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew in Lopez’s office is one that was commonly sent to the general public that requested one during his tenure. Very common in the collector’s world, they usually sell for $20.00 or less.
53. In the scene at the Sun Ray where Tony Montana meets the Colombians, there is the trademark multi-colored bag of Mothers Cookies on the dresser. Mother’s cookies eventually was acquired by the Kellogg Co. and this product placement is now noted on the Mother’s Cookies website.
54. When Omar is being summarily executed by Sosa, you can see F. Murray Abraham’s shoe falling off his foot from the loitering helicopter.
This film is a remake of Scarface (1932),
which is based on Al Capone.
56. During the scene in Elvira’s condo, and after Frank Lopez’s failed assassination attempt on Tony, he looks up at a blimp which reads “the world is yours . . . Pan Am airlines”. It should be noted that Scarface (1932) was produced by Howard Hughes who was majority shareholder and investor of Transworld Airlines, a notable competitor of Pan Am.
57. Al Pacino received third degree burns from the M16A1/M203 he used in the film.
58. Edward James Olmos turned down a role.
One of the incorrect stories regarding the
film’s battle with the MPAA over the initial X rating it received and the
(ultimately successful) effort to be given an R rating instead is that the
infamous “chainsaw scene” had to be heavily edited because it was the major
focus of the ratings board’s issues over the film’s violence and gore. In fact,
Brian De Palma had always directed that scene to hint at a great deal more
carnage than he actually showed (he once said that the shower scene in Psycho
(1960) was a main inspiration for this) and the only matter the MPAA cited was
a very brief shot of a severed arm. In fact, De Palma hadn’t intended for that
image to be in the movie and made removing it his first cut when preparing the
movie for its ratings appeal.
60. Isabelle Adjani, Karen Allen, Lucie Arnaz, Blanche Baker, Priscilla Barnes, Sandra Bernhard, Colleen Camp, Kate Capshaw, Joanna Cassidy, Lindsay Crouse, Courteney Cox, Jamie Lee Curtis, Beverly D’Angelo, Dana Delany, Susan Dey, Tess Harper, Goldie Hawn, Marg Helgenberger, Marilu Henner, Leann Hunley, Amy Irving, Margot Kidder, Jessica Lange, Lorna Luft, Camryn Manheim, Laraine Newman, Annie Potts, Kathleen Quinlan, Deborah Raffin, Theresa Russell, Janine Turner, Sela Ward, Sigourney Weaver, JoBeth Williams, Debra Winger and Stephanie Zimbalist were considered for the role of Elvira Hancock.
61. The beer that one of the two assassins drinks in the Babylon Club before the shootout is Bavarian Löwenbräu. The brewery is located in Munich, Germany, and was founded around 1383. Also, the box seen in the money-counting scene, where Tony Montana wants the money to be counted a second time, is a Löwenbräu box. Löwenbräu translates into English as “lion’s brew”.
62. In the opening interrogation scene, Tony is interviewed by an actor whose voice is heavily dubbed by Charles Durning, who played opposite Al Pacino in Dog Day Afternoon (1975).
63. The song “Dance Dance Dance” was performed by Beth Anderson, who later provided the background vocals for the theme from Die unendliche Geschichte (1984), which was also composed by Giorgio Moroder.
64. Michelle Pfeiffer accidentally cut Al Pacino’s face during production.
65. Kristy McNichol reportedly wanted the role of Elvira, but Brian De Palma turned them down.
66. During the scene where Tony and Elvira are sitting in the Cadillac at the car dealership, Al Pacino surreptitiously slips on the hat that Michelle Pfeiffer was wearing while she was looking away, which was not scripted. When she turns back and sees him wearing it, her amused reaction was genuine and to her credit, she stayed in character and ad-libbed a line. Brian De Palma decided to keep that unscripted exchange in the movie to show Elvira’s gradual warming up to Montana.
67. Brian De Palma almost didn’t cast Michelle Pfeiffer following the failure of Grease 2 (1982). Martin Bregman pushed for Pfeiffer to audition and she got the part.
68. This was the sixteenth highest-grossing film of 1983.
The entertainment industry initially hated
the film, with Liza Minnelli asking Al Pacino what he had done to leave the
insiders subdued at a post-screening meal. (Minnelli had not seen the film at
the time.) However, during the meal, Eddie Murphy told Pacino that he loved the
70. According to AMC’s “DVD TV: Much More Movie” airing, Cher loved the film; Lucille Ball came with her family and hated it because of the graphic violence and language; and Dustin Hoffman was said to have fallen asleep. Writers Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and John Irving were among those who allegedly walked out in disgust after the notorious chainsaw scene. At the middle of the film, Martin Scorsese turned to Steven Bauer and told him, “You guys are great - but be prepared, because they’re going to hate it in Hollywood... because it’s about them.”
71. The pro-wrestler Eddie Guerrero had a T-shirt that was modeled on the poster. On the front it said “Latino Heat” (Guerrero’s nickname) and on the back it said, “Addicted To The Heat.”
72. Al Pacino wanted Glenn Close to play Elvira, but the producers didn’t think she was sexy enough.
73. The rapper Young Bleed titled his 1991 album “My Balls & My Word” after the line, “All I have in this world is my balls and my word, and I don’t break ‘em for no one.”
74. The rapper Scarface sampled the line “All I have in this world” for the song “Mr. Scarface” from his 1991 album “Mr. Scarface Is Back.” A variation of the song was released with the Geto Boys 1989 album Grip It! On That Other Level and the 1990 Geto Boys album released by Def American when Scarface was signed to the Geto Boys with its members Willie D and Bushwick Bill.
Compton’s Most Wanted sampled the line, “So
long Mel have a good trip...You die motherfucker! You die motherfucker!” for
their song “Def Wish II.” This same line was also used as a sample in another
rap song “Driveby Miss Daisy” when the song ends featuring the scream when Gina
is escorted to the Montana estate after Tony kills Manny.
76. Steven Bauer got his role without even auditioning. During the audition process, casting director Alixe Gordin saw Bauer and instantly noted that he was right for the role of Manny, a judgment with which both Brian De Palma and Martin Bregman agreed.
77. The picture was shot for 24 weeks from November 22, 1982 to May 6, 1983. [22-11-06-05.]
78. In creating the Freedom Town sequence, Brian De Palma and visual consultant Ferdinando Scarfiotti researched actual events and found that in 1980, newly arrived Marielitos were housed in a hastily constructed camp beneath a Miami freeway. For the movie, the camp was erected in Los Angeles, beneath the intersection of the Santa Monica and Harbour freeways. The final riot in Freedom town called for some linguistic agility, as many of the six hundred extras spoke Spanish; thus safety required careful translation prior to each set-up.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
79. In the final shootout sequence, Al Pacino grabs the gun by the barrel. Although only blanks were used, his hand was badly burned, and production had to be shut down for a few weeks.
80. There’s one shot near the end of the movie of a henchman tossing a grappling hook onto the top of Tony’s mansion. Believe it or not, that one shot was actually directed by Steven Spielberg, who was visiting the set at the time.
81. The only main characters who survive the film are all enemies of Tony Montana, except Elvira and Tony’s mother, mama Montana.
82. Everything that Frank tells Tony about Sosa turns out to be true.
Body count: 42.
When Tony Montana dies, the globe says, “The
World is Yours”, which is what flashed on a billboard when Tony Camonte (Paul
Muni) died in the original Scarface (1932), as well as what the blimp displays
in a previous scene.