"Scarface" Turns 25: Celebrating The Ultimate Latin Gangster Flick
12/09/2008 - 15:02 ||
It was the ultimate gangster flick. Released on December 9, 1983, Scarface delivered a disturbing yet unforgettable vignette of the 1980s cocaine craze and a certain Cuban refugee-turned-Miami druglord named Tony Montana. Al Pacino didn't win an Oscar for his portrayal of Oliver Stone's classic antihero, but he and the film did something far greater--impact every corner of pop culture. Check out a few examples:
If a straight-to-video sequel ever comes to fruition, Pitbull--a Miami native of Cuban descent with exquisite taco-meat chest hair--could easily play Montana's offspring. Pit even replicated Tony's infamous all-white suit for his 2007 The Boatlift album cover.
A year after Scarface's debut, Miami Vice featured Don Johnson, Philip Michael Thomas and Edward James Olmos as an undercover police squad that took to the street of Miami and locked up the bad guys. Tacky apparel, thick Cuban accents and excessive partying defined the show's five-year-run on NBC.
Were it not for the slicked-back hair and irresistible swagger of Montana's BFF, Manolo Ribera, most girls wouldn't have sat through all 170 minutes of Scarface in the first place. Cubano Steven Bauer, who played Manolo, went on to portray other memorable gangsters, such as Carlos Ayala in Steven Soderbergh's Academy Award-winning Traffic (2001).
As Tony's trophy girlfriend, Elvira, Michelle Pfeiffer laid the blueprint for bad boys' novias. In 2001's Blow, Penelope Cruz carried the torch as MIrtha, the rail-thin wife of drug smuggler George Jung. Cruz's character, like Pfeiffer's, stays with her man only until the last bottle of Dom P has been guzzled. (See also: Lymari Nadal in 2007's American Gangster.)
Games People Play.
The controversial 2002 video game Grand Theft auto: Vice City, based in an alternate-realy 1980s Miami, is Scarface on virtual steroids. Like Montana, lead character Tommy Vercetti wears immaculate polyester suits, kills his boss and lies in a mansion near a beach. The final act also finds Vercetti defending his mansion against various rivals. The only difference is that while Tony goes down in a blaze of glory, Tommy arises victorious.
--Jesús Triviño Alarcón
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