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Scarface-Say Hello to My Little Friend

June 19, 2007

Between April 15 and Oct 31, 1980 there as a mass migration of people from Cuba to the US. It was called as the Mariel boatlift after the name of the harbor from where these people
departed. Ostensibly done by Cuban President Fidel Castro to improve relations between US and Cuba, it was ended when President Jimmy Carter , realized that a large number of the refugees were jail inmates or those from asylums. By that time, 125,000 Cubans had migrated to US, or more specifically to Florida, which even to date has a large Cuban population, especially Miami. Of these exiles, around 2% were discovered to be violent criminals, whom Castro had released from Cuban jails. And these people would make Miami the center of a profitable drug trafficking network.

Just as New York is famous for it’s Italian Mafia , Los Angeles for it’s Mexican mafia and San Francisco for it’s Chinese mafia, Miami would become the center for the Cuban mafia as well as the notorious Colombian Gangsters .

This incident is the backdrop for Brian De Palma’s 1983 Gangster flick Scarface , which centers around the Cuban mafia . Tony Montana( Al Pacino) a small time Cuban criminal is granted asylum in the US. Along with his friend Manny Ray( Steven Bauer) , he begins life, by working at a small food stand. Omar Suarez( F. Murray Abraham) offers Tony and Manny , their first coke job , slang for a drug deal. Along with another of his friend Angel Fernandez, Tony, Manny and another guy Chi Chi go to the hotel to make a deal.

The deal goes wrong however, with Angel being murdered and Tony captured. He is however saved in the nick of time, by Manny and Chi Chi . Tony later shoots the dealer dead, and is recruited by local crime boss Frank Lopez(Robert Loggia), as a hitman. And soon Tony is one of the top most hitmen in Lopez’s gang. Tony falls out with Lopez over a drug deal with Bolivian drug lord Alejandro Sosa( Paul Shenar) , and starts to branch out on his own. He later kills Lopez, takes over his business, starts to deal with Sosa, and in the mean time also ends up marrying Lopez’s moll Elvira Hancock( Michelle Pfeiffer) . Along with his sister Gina( Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) he lives in a huge mansion. In the process he also becomes a cocaine addict.Watch the rest of the movie to see how Tony falls out with Sosa, and his subsequent downfall.

The movie has some real violent scenes, and I mean, really violent and disturbing. You have that famous chainsaw scene, where Tony’s friend Angel is murdered using a chain saw. Also the scene where Tony murders his friend Manny, after he discovers he has been dating his sister Gina, scene where Tony murders Lopez and takes over his business.

It also has some fine dramatic scenes where Gina confronts him after Manny’s death, and Tony’s initial encounter with the immigration people. The scenes which show Tony becoming an addict to cocaine are quite harrowing.

The movie has a strong script by Oliver Stone , who was just then coming out of a cocaine addiction, and it has that realistic touch. The climax though is vintage Bollywood and would do any Mithun or Rajni starrer proud . Tony Montana single handedly taking on an entire array of men, though bullets keep flying around him and he is completely on cocaine. This is where he utters the famous catch phrase “Say Hello to My Little Friend”, before he falls dead to a single bullet.

Scarface works on a powerhouse performance by Al Pacino . Be it his first encounter with the Immigration people, his clumsy attempts to date Elvira, his rage when he sees his best friend dating his sister, his cocaine snorting scenes, and his transition from a hoodlum to a crime boss, this is one of Pacino’s best performances.

Michelle Pfeiffer does not have much of a role, but she is quite sizzling. Her entry in a long blue dress with slits, and a low cut, has been rated as one of the sexiest moments in cinema.

Of the other cast, Robert Loggia as the crime boss Frank Lopez , Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Gina , Steven Bauer as Manny and Paul Shenar as Sosa , offer good support.

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