12 things you probably didn't know about Scarface

  • 12 things you probably didn't know about Scarface

This week marks 32 years since Scarface was released in UK cinemas, which gave audiences a glimpse of the rise and fall of Tony Montana from Cuban imigrant to drug kingpin and then body in a swimming pool.

There are tons of interesting things about the making of the film that you may not have known, so here are 12 things about Tony and his 'little friend' (we not talking about his penis) for you to enjoy...

1. The film had to be recut to get an R rating, then ended up using the orignal anyway

When director Brian De Palma submitted the film to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) for a rating, they gave it an X rating, meaning that many theatres would refuse to screen it.

So he cut it two more times in a bid to get an R rating without success, so him and producer Martin Bregman arranged a hearing with the MPAA in which they brought a panel of experts, including real narcotics officers, who stated that the film was an accurate portrayal of real life in the drug underworld and should be widely seen.

The MPAA were convinced and gave the third cut of the film and R rating; De Palma thought that if the third cut was judged and R rating, then the first version should be too, so he asked the studio execs to release the first cut of the film, but they refused.

De Palma thought that the execs wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the cuts and released the first cut to theatres anyway.

A few months after the film was released on video De Palma confessed that he released the unedited version to cinemas.

2. Despite all of the edits, Brian De Palma didn't change the chainsaw scene

A widely-believed story is the MPAA's reaction to the infamous 'chainsaw scene', which was De Palma was forced to heavily edit to remove most of the violence and gore.

The true story is that De Palma had always directed the chainsaw scene to show less gore and actually hint at more violence than audiences actually got to see, De Palma said that the main inspiration was the shower scene in Psycho.

The only issue that the MPAA had with the scene was a brief shot of a severed arm which De Palma hadn't intended to be in the scene and removed it in his first cut.

3. The studio asked Brian De Palma to change the soundtrack for rap songs with the re-release

When Scarface was re-released in cinemas in 2003, De Palma was asked by the studio to change the soundtrack using rap songs that were inspired by the movie, including Dope Man by NWA and Mr. Scarface by... Scarface (imaginative stuff).

De Palma refused to change the soundtrack, but an album, 'Music Inspired by Scarface' was released.

4. Al Pacino's accent coaching was used in the finished film

Tony's scene in a bathtub watching TV saying to Manny "Look at dem pelicans fly" was actually a sentence that Al Pacino practiced to perfect his Cuban accent with a language coach.

Also Pacino learned the word 'yeyo' during his accent coaching and ad-libbed it during the chainsaw scene, Brian De Palma liked it and encouraged Pacino to use it throughout the film.

5. The guns were built with devices so they would look better on screen

The prop firearms used in the film were equipped with electronic synchronising devices so that they would only fire when the camera shutter was open.

This meant that the guns' muzzle flashes were much more visible and consistent than in most movies.

6. Al Pacino was injured by his own gun

In the final shootout, where Tony is shooting everyone with his 'little friend', Pacino grabbed the gun by the barrel and although only blanks were used, his hand was badly burned.

Production had to be shut down for a few weeks while his hand recovered.

7. Tony is only called Scarface once in the film

Despite the title, Tony Montana is never referred to as 'Scarface', at least not in English anyway.

In the chainsaw scene, he is called "Caracicatriz" which is Scarface in Spanish.

8. John Travolta could have been Manny

John Travolta was considered for Manny, and Al Pacino reportedly met Travolta in New York about playing Manny.

The role went to actual Cuban Steven Bauer, who went on to feature in Breaking Bad... imagine what it'd have looked like if Travolta was cast instead.

9. Many, many actresses were considered for Elvira

The list of actresses that were considered for the role of Elvira Hancock is vast and varied, including Kate Capshaw, Courteney Cox, Jamie Lee Curtis, Goldie Hawn, Debra Winger, Sigourney Weaver and many more.

Geena Davis, Carrie Fisher and Sharon Stone also auditioned for the role.

Nancy Allen, who went on to star in the RoboCop films, was also being considered but Brian De Palma threw that idea out after he directed her in box office failure Blow Out - which also starred John Travolta.

Michelle Pfeiffer, who played Elvira, was almost overlooked because at the time she was best known for the disappointing Grease 2 and De Palma was hesitant to audition her; Martin Bregman pushed for her to audition and she won the part.

10. Nobody knows what Tony is snorting

The cocaine in the shooting of the film was supposed to be dried milk, but De Palma didn't think it well when the scene was shot.

De Palma refuses to admit what substance ended up being used as cocaine as he feels it would destroy the illusion of realism - very suspicious.

11. Steven Spielberg directed a scene

Fresh off the back of the success of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Steven Spielberg paid the set a visit and ended up operating one of the camera in the final scene.

He also directed a shot near the end of the movie of a henchman tossing a grappling hook onto the top of Tony's mansion.

Guess he had to keep himself busy.

12. Oliver Stone wrote the screenplay because he needed the work

With three Oscars on his mantelpiece, Oliver Stone is one of Hollywood's finest directors and screenwriters and directors.

But back in 1983, he jumped at Martin Bregman's offer to overhaul Sidney Lumet's Scarface screenplay after his 1981 film The Hand had bombed at the box office and he badly needed the work.

Lumet eventually dropped out of the project because he felt Stone's overhauling became too violent, but it convinced Brian De Palma, who had previously turned down the directing job because he didn't like Lumet's script, to leave as director of Flashdance and take on Scarface.

While he was writing the script, Stone was in the midst of fighting a cocaine habit, which gave him an insight into what the drug can do to users; he moved to Paris to be far away from his access to cocaine so he could finish the script.

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