Scarface (1983)

After Dog Day Afternoon I decided to jump ahead a bit in my DVD watching schedule for more Pacino action… amusingly enough, the making-of on the DVD notes Sidney Lumet was actually the originally intended director, so it was a doubly appropriate follow-up… but he backed out and Brian de Palma got to do this instead of Flashdance. Just think, Brian’s career could have been so different… Anyway, I always had an irrational resentment, for want of a better word, towards the 1983 Scarface, cos I first saw the 1932 film about 20 years ago and I’ve always been an admirer of that; the “classic Hollywood” bore in me was a bit pissy that more people seemed to know about the remake than the original, and frankly I didn’t really want to see the remake. Of course, I’ve got older since then and become more open to the idea of watching (and sometimes liking) films I once would’ve dismissed out of hand, so here I am with Scarface ’83 under my belt at last. And, well, Scarface ’32 just looks better than ever as a result; Tony Camonte’s over and done with in less time than it takes Tony Montana just to kill his former employer and climb to the top of the coke mound. It’s not bad work by Pacino (though I was irritated by how often I had to flick the subtitles on just to penetrate that Cuban accent), kind of OTT but so is the character; but Oliver Stone says something in the doco about the emptiness of Tony’s Life once he makes it big, and frankly that emptiness extends well beyond the character’s life into the film itself. Similarly, Roger Ebert notes how Giorgio Moroder’s score “provides the correct tone for a lifestyle that has the surface of luxury but not the comfort”, but for me it just made me think of god/dess knows how many dodgy 80s action movies and European knockoffs with the same sort of dated synth score but with a lot fewer pretensions. 170 minutes of ho-hum.

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