27 Jan

In the early 1980’s thousands of people leave Cuba bound for the United States to find a better life. One such immigrant is Tony Montana (played by Al Pacino) who’s had a few scrapes with the law and is desperate to become a success. He starts at a refugee camp in Florida, earning a living washing dishes at a food van, but he and his friend Manny Ribera (by Steven Bauer) pretty soon move on. In exchange for a Green Card they agree to do a contract killing. Tony and Manny get involved in a drugs operation and meet big time dealer Frank Lopez (by Robert Loggia). Tony’s got a knack for this type of thing and a few successes come  his way, so he partners with Frank and they start to do business with contacts in Columbia. Everything goes well, customers are happy and money rolls in. Frank marries the beautiful Elvira (by Michelle Pfeiffer) and he tries to look after his Mama (by Miriam Colon) and his sister Gina (by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), but his mother doesn’t approve and she rejects him. Tony’s relationships suffer but his business booms. A big drug dealer in South America, Alejandro Sosa (by Paul Shenar), starts to work with the Montana organisation until things go bad and get dangerous. Violence escalates across Miami and Tony’s business comes under scrutiny by the Tax Department and the Feds. Tony starts to panic when he realises life’s about more than just money and he can’t buy his way out of everything …

This movie is a good adventure story with some heavy action scenes. The improving lifestyle of the up and coming drug dealer is opulent and filled with excesses. Tony’s relationship with Elvira (played by a very young Michelle Pfeiffer) is interesting but not really critical to the story. The violence in the movie would have been graphic in its day and indeed the story would have been ground-breaking then too. Al Pacino is gritty and real as Tony Montana – he is good in these “down to earth” roles. I hate to say it, but Michelle Pfeiffer is little more than a decoration here, however as Gina, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio gives things a bit more life and emotion. The male characters are all pretty strong – well done to Steve Bauer, who has had quite a successful career since this one. It’s quite a long movie – nearly 3 hours, and  it probably doesn’t need to be, but overall it’s a decent adventure. It was nominated for a few Golden Globes, but went without any recognition through the awards season of 1984, perhaps as it’s a remake of a 1932 movie. This one is written by Oliver Stone.

Made in 1983. Directed by Brian De Palma.

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Posted by on January 27, 2015 in Movies


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