Cult classic films are timeless pieces of work that film fanatics share with their unknowing friends, family and offspring, if they just so happen to be parents. From the grindhouse classic Zombi 2: The Dead Are Among Us to the classic revenge film I Spit on Your Grave, that empowered women and downed r*pe culture, the 70s and 80s were the golden era of shock jock and bloodbath films that provided the perfect first dates to make any lady
or guy cringe and have them gripping to your coat sleeve.
Then there was one film that tied the grindhouse film era into mainstream Hollywood and became one of the most infamous gangster films of all time, in Scarface. The movie that described the entire drug binging state of America and showed an immigrant’s path to the top through sheer dominance, wit, murder and the business of drug trade, that has yet to be halted by our very own justice system. Scarface is truly a story of tragedy, but has influenced an entire generation to take exactly what they want by any means necessary.
To this very day, Scarface is referenced in music and pop culture, even as it approaches 35 years since its original release date. But what many people don’t know are the struggles and changes that had to be made while in the process of making this classic film. To make something great, adversity is always going to be something to overcome, especially in the film industry, and even though Tony Montana is a fictitious character he’s living proof of turning nothing into everything. With all that being said, check out these unknown facts about the cult classic, Scarface, and remember the one phrase lit up in neon lights that the movie taught all of us… The world is yours.
15. The Film Was Sort of A Remake
What a lot of people don’t know about the 1983 film, is that it was actually based on an earlier film of the same title but had some major script and subject matter differences. The original 1932 screenplay was reflective of the social climate during that time, and was based on an Italian-American gangster by the name of Tony Camonte, who clawed his way to the top of the bootleg alcohol industry during the Prohibition era. The 1932 film was actually based on a 1929 novel by Maurice Coons, who wrote under the alias Armitage Trail. The novel was loosely based on the rise of Al Capone. Wanna take a guess at what the name of his book was? You guessed it, Scarface.
14. Oliver Stone Used His Own ‘Habits’ To Inspire The Blockbuster
What many people may not know about the movie, was that it was actually inspired by the movie’s very own writer, Oliver Stone, more than the average film fanatic would think. While Stone was in France ridding off his very own cocaine habit, he wrote the entire screenplay of the modern day classic about the drug that was plaguing American culture. Remember that scene from the movie where Tony had a mountain of cocaine at his desk and he drunkenly dove his head into it? Well, that was a good depiction of what America had come to at the time, and Oliver Stone perfectly articulated that through his own experiences and through the film itself.
13. Brian De Palma Quit Another Hot Movie To Direct Scarface
If there is one thing negative you had to say about Brian De Palma, it definitely wouldn’t be about his choice of projects to be a part of. From movies like Carrie to Mission Impossible to The Untouchables to The Black Dalhia, De Palma has carved out quite the directing career for himself. But during his rise to prominence, De Palma was brought to a conflict of interest that forced him to make a very important choice… Would he direct Scarface? Or would he choose Flashdance? Don’t get us wrong, Jennifer Beals was hot and the movie is world renowned, but we think Brian De Palma made the right choice. He also worked with Al Pacino later on another cult classic, Carlito’s Way.
12. This Was Tony Montana’s Little Sister’s Big Break
Tony Montana and his little sister, Gina, sure did have one strange relationship… We understand that he was trying to be protective of her but when she snapped, things really got extremely awkward, as she shot at him nearly naked as the film came to a close. Anyways, this film put the actress who played Gina, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, on the map. As a matter of fact, this was Mary’s first major role as the only on-screen experience she had prior to Scarface, was as an extra in Martin Scorsese’s film, The King of Comedy. Following her role in the gangster film, Mastrantonio went on to play a role in the movie, The Color of Money, opposite of Tom Cruise and Paul Newman, which later earned her an Oscar nomination.
11. Tony Montana & His Mother Were A Lot Closer In Age Than You Think
We all know the scowl that Mama Scarface delivered as soon as Tony Montana came walking through her front door, and just like most mothers, she had the intuition to know that her son was up to no good and boy, was she ever right. Anyways, the actress who played the role of Tony’s mother was actually only four years older than Al Pacino himself at the time. The biological impossibilities are clearly there, but we should never doubt the power of movie magic. And salute to the casting director for finding the perfect Latina actress turned mom, with one of the greatest: ‘I know you are up to no good’ face.
10. Omar Suarez In The Film Was A Real Gangster
F. Murray Abraham, who played the role as the Yayo slanging, Omar Suarez in the film, didn’t have to do too much research for his character, being that as a youth, Abraham was a gang member and car thief in his teens while growing up in El Paso, Texas. As a matter of fact, if it wasn’t for one of his high school teachers, Abraham would have never discovered his passion for acting and probably would have ended up living a real life of crime, which never ends well. While on set of the movie Scarface, Abraham learned that he had landed the lead role of Salieri in the movie, Amadeus, in which he later won the Academy Award of Best Actor for his performance. Also, this wasn’t the first time Abraham and Al Pacino had worked together, as the two played New York City undercover cops in the 1973 film, Serpico.
9. Pacino Was Seriously Burned While Shooting
“You wanna play rough?! Ok! Say hello to my little friend!” We all know the infamous line that has been reused over and over again throughout pop culture but what many people don’t know is that during the final shootout sequence where hundreds of gangsters had stormed his compound, Al Pacino had severely burned his hand while firing the prop assault rifle. Pacino burnt his hand so bad that he was forced to take a leave of absence for a total of two weeks. Another dope and unknown fact is that the special effects coordinator had attached synchronizers to the guns, in order to make sure the camera’s shutter was open while ‘shooting’ in order to capture the gun’s flash.
8. Only Two Real Cubans Were Casted In The Movie
Alright, for those of you who are obviously oblivious to the actual movie, Scarface is based on Cuban immigrants, they’re not Puerto Rican, Dominican or Mexican, for that matter. They. Are. Floridian. Based. Cubans. Anyways, with that being said, a majority of the main cast members aren’t even Cuban, not even Tony Montana himself. As a matter of fact the only two Cubans on set were Steven Bauer, who played the slick talking Manny Ribera, Tony Montana’s right hand and Angel Salazar, who is actually Cuban-American, and played the supporting cast member known as Chi-Chi. So, in reality, there was really only a Cuban and a half casted as stand out actors in the entire movie. What’s even funnier is that the role of Manny was Steven Bauer’s film debut. Imagine if he didn’t make the cut to play Manny… There could have been only half a Cuban in the entire movie! The irony…
7. Cuban-Americans Did NOT Enjoy The Film
A majority of the Cuban-American population was very upset with the depiction of Cubans as criminals, murderers and drug dealers throughout the film, which lead to a lot of the Cuban community boycotting the movie. The protest was so huge that the movie featured a disclaimer in the end credits, claiming that the characters in the movie were not an accurate depiction of the Cuban-American community and that the islanders are renowned for their patriotism, honesty, and industrious way of living. These days with the movie being a cult classic, we’re pretty sure the Cuban-American community doesn’t have any hard feelings. Seriously, who wouldn’t want to claim Tony Montana as a part of their ethnic heritage?
6. The History Of Tony’s Trophy Wife, Elvira
The initial exchange between Tony Montana and Elvira was definitely not pleasant, as she exclaimed that she didn’t get involved with ‘the help.’ But as the movie progressed Tony landed his desired trophy wife and watched her become his bitter better half. The thing that most people are clueless about with regards to Elvira’s character is that both Al Pacino and director, Brian De Palma weren’t adamant about auditioning Michelle Pfeiffer, who eventually took on the role, being that her last big role was in Grease 2, which happened to horribly flop. At one point in time, De Palma wanted his then wife, Nancy Allen, to take on the role, but later dumped her as a potential option after their director/actress project Blow Out, flopped at the box office. What’s even crazier is that Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer later reconnected together eight years later on the 1991 film, Frankie & Johnny, where Al played a New York diner cook and Michelle played a waitress as the two shared a romantic relationship. You never know the connectivity you have with someone until you meet them!
5. De Niro & Travolta Were Almost Cast As Leads
It was originally Al Pacino’s idea to remake the 1932 version of Scarface, after he saw a revival screening in Los Angeles. He spoke with movie producer Martin Bregman, and the 1983 remake began to come to life. What many people don’t know is that Robert De Niro was offered the role as Tony Montana and he eventually turned it down. Also, many people don’t know that John Travolta was considered as Tony’s right hand man, Manny Ribera. Can you imagine Robert De Niro and John Travolta playing Cuban-American gangsters? That could have possibly been a disaster and changed both of their legacies. We’re glad that Pacino and Steven Bauer were granted their assigned roles.
4. Huge Impact On The Hip Hop Community
Scarface, along with the likes of The Godfather series, Casino and Goodfellas, have all become staples of the hip hop community, but Scarface might take the cake when it comes to gangster movie, rapper favorites. For instance, Houston, Texas legendary rapper Scarface,
obviously got his name after the classic film, one of the greatest rappers of all time in the Notorious B.I.G. rapped the Scarface quotable, ‘Don’t get high on your on supply’ on his well known Life After Death album, hell there’s even an entire hip hop compilation album based around songs inspired by the movie. Last and certainly not least, during the 20th anniversary of the DVD re-release of the gangster film, hip hop producer and mogul Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs claimed that he had seen the movie 63 times. We’re pretty sure that the number has changed by now… and to be totally honest, that’s a little excessive if you ask us. We mean, it’s a good movie but sheesh, chill Puffy.
3. Rated Worse Than The Standard ‘R’
Director Brian De Palma, was forced to edit the movie three times and even went to court in order to get the movie rated ‘R’, because originally, the movie was rated ‘X’; yes… X, which by today’s standard is somewhat strange being that a majority of major motion pictures these days are full of violence, foul language and sexually explicit content. One reason why the movie was rated X was because of one particular word… f***. The f-word is used a total of 207 times throughout the film. As a matter of fact, Tony’s wife in the movie, Elvira, even complained about Tony’s foul mouth and his use of the f*** word, as she dismissed herself from his presence. While De Palma was editing the film he tricked film officials by giving them a clean cut edited version of the movie and giving the theaters the original cut. We’re pretty sure that many were pissed that De Palma pulled a fast one on the movie industry.
2. Truth About The Infamous Chainsaw Scene
The infamous chainsaw motel scene in Scarface, might be the most gruesome and intense scene not only in the movie, but in all of the feature films released in 1983, the year the movie hit theaters. The entire scene was sketchy to begin with; the grimy South Beach motel, the woman on the bed obviously hiding something under the pillow, the scowl on the faces of the group of drug dealers, and the overall vibe, of what was supposed to be an easy Yayo deal was just off from the get go. What’s crazy about this particular scene is that screenplay writer, Oliver Stone, had actually gotten the idea to write the scene in the movie from an actual Miami police report that was very similar to the movie scene where Tony was forced to watch his partner in crime get chopped up like a tree trunk at a lumber yard. The only frames in the movie to get cut from the theater version was a dismembered arm that was left hanging on the shower rod by a handcuff. Honestly, we wish De Palma and Stone would have left the entire scene as is.
1. Was Scarface Even Called Scarface?
At the beginning of the movie, Tony Montana was asked by immigration how he got the large scar on his face. In which the immigration officer made the joke that he had gotten it via cunnilingus, Tony replied snarkily but he never really answered the question as to how he got the scar. As a matter of fact, that was never answered at all. Hm. Anyways, throughout the course of the entire 170 minute movie, Tony Montana was referred to as Scarface only once… and it wasn’t even in English. He was called ‘Caracicatriz’ which translates to Scarface from Tony’s native language of Spanish. Who would have ever guessed that…?