Film / Scarface (1983)

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Scarface_sm_6889.jpg
The World is His.

"All I got in this world is my balls and my word and I don't break either of 'em for nobody."
Tony Montana

Scarface is a 1983 crime film directed by Brian De Palma, written by Oliver Stone and starring the great Al Pacino. It is a loose remake of the 1932 film of the same name directed by Howard Hawks and written by Ben Hecht (both of whom the 1983 film is dedicated to).

The remake centers on Antonio "Tony" Montana (Pacino), a Cuban refugee deported to Miami during the Mariel Boatlift of 1980, during which Fidel Castro sent off not only the relatives of Cuban-Americans abroad, but also the dregs of his jails. The film covers Tony's violent rise to the top of Miami's drug trade and his eventual Descent into Addiction and paranoia that alienates him from his friends and family.

Scarface's graphic violence and language drew controversy and was panned by most critics, but has since developed a cult following and become an influential popular work. It was especially influential on Hip-Hop culture.

In 2006, two spinoff video games were released, based on What If? scenarios that avert the film's Downer Ending. The first, The World Is Yours, is a Third-Person Shooter that allows players to control Tony in sandbox-style gameplay as he seeks to rebuild his reputation and empire after losing everything. The second, Money. Power. Respect., is a Turn-Based Strategy game where players make strategic decisions and command groups of minions. An unconnected comic series, Scarred for Life, follows a similar premise. In 2016, Tony Montana was made a playable character in, of all things, PAYDAY 2, as part of an early cross-promotion for the remake of this film currently in the production stages. His mansion from the film also makes an appearance as a playable heist. Universal has announced plans for a reboot starting Leonardo DiCaprio and Sofia Vergara.


The 1983 film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: When Tony is trying to charm Elvira after she rebuffs his advances, he asks if she'll kiss him if he wears her hat. Despite trying to keep her ice queen demeanor, the sight of him in her hat breaks her into laughter.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The film takes some basic plot elements and characters from the original and expands on them greatly.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Tony Montana has far more moral standards and likable characteristics than Tony Camonte in the Hawks film. It's hard to imagine Camonte having second thoughts about killing children and putting morality before self-interest the way Montana does. In the Hawks film, Camonte fights and goes down fighting the police, whereas Montana loses to a rival druglord.
  • Addiction Powered: Tony's cocaine allowed him to take a lot of punishment before going down.
  • Affably Evil: Frank Lopez. He's a friendly, gregarious philanthropist who sponsors a little league baseball team. He's also a murderous drug kingpin.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The film climaxes with a massive assault on the Montana compound.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: People not familiar with the fact that Miami has a significant Cuban Jewish community (or that there are Cuban Jews) might miss that Frank Lopez references a Yiddish word ("chazzer") for "pig" and wears a Chai necklace.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Ambition is what drives Tony's criminal impulse during his rise.
  • And This Is For...: Frank Lopez to Rebenga via Tony and his knife.
    Tony: REBENGA!!! From a friend you FUCKED!!!
  • Anyone Can Die: Played straight with Tony's death.
  • Arc Words: "The world is yours". Tony sees it on a Goodyear blimp and he adopts it as his own motto.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • All of Tony's victims fall into this, though Frank Lopez is the more sympathetic of them due to his Affably Evil status. Tony himself becomes one when Sosa kills him after a rage-filled battle with the latter's men.
    • Frank's right-hand man Omar Suarez, who gets exposed as a police informant and killed when he angrily decides not to go with Sosa and Tony's business dealings.
  • Ax-Crazy:
    • Tony is the embodiment of this trope in the second half of the movie.
    • Hector the Toad as well, who kills Tony's associate with a chainsaw.
  • Badass Boast: Some of the most famous lines from the movie.
    Tony: You wanna fuck with me? Okay. You little cockroaches... You wanna play rough? SAY HELLO TO MY LITTLE FRIEND!
  • Berserk Button: Tony does not like it when guys put the moves on his little sister. Played in a tragic way after he finds out Manny with Gina. He also reacts violently when he learns that Sosa expects him to kill women and children.
  • Being Evil Sucks: This trope is definitely made all the more obvious in this version than the original. If you think that being a drug dealer like Tony is a cool thing, then you're out of your mind.
  • BFG: Tony's "little friend", a full-auto converted Colt AR-15 assault rifle with an M-203 grenade launcher.
  • Big Bad: Alejandro Sosa, a Bolivian drug lord who is the most powerful gangster we see. Tony Montana, as well.
  • Big Fancy House: Most notably, Tony buys a huge mansion with a famously gaudy interior and decor.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Massively so compared to the 1932 original. Even with the laxer censorship standards over the 50 years that had passed between the two, this was considered an exceptionally violent film that shocked audiences when it first released.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Uzi submachine guns are shot as though they had a several-feet-long belt in their magazines. Heavy machine gun barrels would go red hot after so many bullets in one go note ; the Uzis don't. Tony's own M-16 assault rifle seems to have the equivalents of Phalanx CIWS ammunition domes for magazines, too. However, it should be noted that in the final shootout, Tony is shown reloading his rifle multiple times.
  • Bowdlerise: The TV version, to wonderful extents.
    • How'd you get that scar, Tony? Eating Pineapple?
    • This town's like a great big chicken just waiting to get plucked.
    • Why don't you... stick your head in the toilet.
    • On some channels, the chainsaw scene was cut completely, skipping to him running outside.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Tony's violent protectiveness toward Gina has serious elements of this. She throws it in his face towards the climax, after he killed Manny and had her brought to his house: she pretends to force herself onto Tony so she can kill him.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Tony says that his father was American.
  • Chainsaw Good: Tony's friend Angel is killed with a chainsaw during his first drug deal in the states.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Sosa's sunglasses wearing enforcer, "The Skull."
  • Chekhov's Hobby: Tony's history as a soldier is mentioned twice at the beginning of the movie and becomes relevant at the end when Tony is able to kill nearly twenty of Sosa's men at the end.
  • The Chessmaster: Sosa, pretty much from his first scene. It's very heavily implied (e.g., by killing Omar on a questionable pretext) that his entire plan was to use Tony as his Miami distributor and to squeeze out existing rivals. He appeared to already have a massive hit squad practically ready and waiting in Miami to attack Tony's mansion at a moment's notice.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: This video sums it all nicely.
    • Lampshaded by Elvira when she complains about Tony's swearing; at that point, it's the 107th f-bomb in the movie.
    • Notable in being the first movie ever to have over 200 uses of the word.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: "Hector the Toad", as well as Thug army < Tony < The Skull
  • Death by Irony: Tony falling into the swimming pool, next to a statue carrying a globe with his "The World Is Yours" motto.
  • Death Seeker: Arguably Tony in the end. He probably knows that the film's climax will be his last stand. The biggest hint is that, just before grabbing the AR-15, he tells the body of his recently-dead sister "I'll see you soon, okay?"
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Played with. It's made clear that Elvira doesn't love Tony so much as she tolerates him. He ends up taking her long after Frank's death, and the "Push It To The Limit" montage shows that she's more interested in indulging her drug/alcohol habits instead. She later looks at their marriage and life as them being "losers" and leaves, despite Tony's efforts to make her stay. But a key scene in support of this trope is when Tony succeeds in making Elvira laugh in spite of herself when he puts on her hat.
  • Descent into Addiction: Tony and Elvira become addicted to cocaine as he rises up the ranks of the dealers/distributors.
  • Despair Event Horizon: When Tony sees Manny and Gina together, he kills Manny in a fit of anger. The reason why it technically fits here instead of Moral Event Horizon is because during his Villainous Breakdown, he subliminally regrets acting on impulse like that. He truly cements it when one of Sosa's men kills Gina, culminating in an Unstoppable Rage.
  • Deuteragonist: Manny Ribera, Tony's best friend and right hand man.
  • Dirty Cop: Mel Bernstein, narcotics cop who's in league with Lopez.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Averted, Tony does not kill the Bolivian anti-drug activist. Later played straight however, with the circumstances leading to Tony's death.
  • Downer Ending: Where to begin? Tony was disowned by his mother, his sister and his best friend are dead (with the latter by Tony's hands), his empire are in ruins, and finally dies after a massive shootout against Sosa's men.
  • The Dragon:
    • The Skull, for Sosa.
    • Manny Ribera becomes Tony's right hand man in his emerging drug empire. He's relatively tame for a villain.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: A coked-up Tony, armed with an AR-15 assault rifle with grenade launcher, singlehandedly battles a small army of hitmen while shouting obscenities before a shotgun blast to the back kills him. It's easily the most iconic scene in the movie.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Tony tries to take care of those he loves even as he becomes an increasingly bigger criminal and general jerk. His affection for Gina in particular is very strong, although laced with incestuous implications. Subverted later in the film, as he eventually becomes a malignant presence in their lives when he drives Elvira away, kills Manny because he proposed to Gina, and locks Gina up in his own mansion out of an obsession with "protecting" her.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Tony tries to provide for his mother, but the relationship is strained due to her being aware of Tony's criminal activities. She refuses any money and demands him to leave.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Tony does not kill women or kids, which gets him in serious trouble with Sosa. Carries over to The World Is Yours. Men too, so long as they're "not stupid enough to fuck with [Tony]."
  • Evil Versus Evil: Tony is no saint, but Sosa and the other gangsters are worse.
    Tony Montana: What you lookin' at? You all a bunch of fuckin' assholes. You know why? You don't have the guts to be what you wanna be. You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin' fingers and say, "That's the bad guy." So... what that make you? Good? You're not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don't have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth. Even when I lie. So say good night to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again, let me tell you. Come on. Make way for the bad guy. There's a bad guy comin' through! Better get outta his way!
  • Exact Words: Frank begs Tony not to kill him right before the latter takes control of his entire operation, and Tony tells Frank to relax, since he's not going to. Frank is so relieved that he's not going to die. Then we get the following gem.
    Tony: Manolo, shoot that piece of shit!
  • Fan Disservice: As a large group of heavily armed men sent by Sosa slowly surround Tony's villa, Gina shows up in front of Tony, nearly naked wearing only panties and a bathrobe, and confronts Tony with extreme hate, no longer willing to live and wanting him dead, too.
  • Food Slap: Elvira throws a glass of water in Tony's face during their argument in the restaurant.
  • Foreign Remake: Bollywood's Agneepath 1990, albeit somewhat loosely.
  • Getting High on Their Own Supply: The Trope Namer, and quite possibly the Trope Codifier, as Tony Montana is arguably the most well known victim of this trope in fiction. The name, as mentioned in the description, is taken from a line in the movie where Tony Montana is given advice from Elvira Hancock and Frank Lopez. Advice Tony would ignore, which resulted in the series of Tragic Mistakes that would lead to his downfall.
    Frank: Lesson number one: Don't underestimate the OTHER guy's greed!
    Elvira: Lesson number two: Don't get high on your own supply.
  • Gold Digger: Elvira only seems to be interested in men who are filthy rich. Starting out as Lopez's mistress, then later becoming Tony's wife.
  • Good Times Montage: Push it to the limit! Limiiiiit!
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The chainsaw scene is a shining example; it's easy to forget that we don't actually see what the chainsaw does to Angel.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Plenty of Spanish words are casually inserted among otherwise English dialogue and phrases.
  • Grenade Launcher: Tony's M203 in the final battle.
    Tony Montana: Say 'ello to my little friend!
  • Gut Feeling: During the drug deal, Hector initially acts overly friendly, but his body language shows he is quite nervous. Tony picks up on this, as well as Marta's stoic gaze, that something is not right here.
  • Handguns: Tony's weapon for most of the film is a Beretta 81 in .32 ACP, which he uses to kill Hector. He also kills two assassins at the Babylon Club with it. He doesn't pick up the M-16 until the final battle of the film.
    • Manny's weapon, which he uses to kill Frank, is a Beretta 951.
  • Hope Spot: The end of the film. Tony looks like he might be able to hold out against the gangsters besieging his mansion, even standing up to a hail of gunfire. Then the Skull empties both barrels of a shotgun into his back.
  • I Have No Son:
    Tony's Mother: "Son? I wish I had one! He's a bum! He was a bum then and he's a bum now!"
  • Ice Queen: Elvira.
  • Implacable Man: Tony in the end, from the huge amounts of cocaine he took.
  • Infant Immortality: Thanks to Tony's firm, if twisted, moral code.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted by Tony until the very end.
  • It's Snowing Cocaine: Near the climax of the film, Tony is seen surrounded by piles and piles of cocaine (which makes sense since he's a dealer), and uses it to take and inflict a lot of punishment before he goes down.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Sosa... until the games and Scarred For Life.. However, it can be inferred that Sosa would have been arrested since he failed to assassinate that journalist who would have implicated him.
    • Inverted with Mel, who thinks he's getting off easy after Tony and Manny kill Frank in retaliation for an assassination plot. Then Tony decides to pop a sudden bullet in his stomach, then gives him a second shot in the heart to finish him off for good.
  • Karmic Death: Frank Lopez dies in almost the exact same scenario he had tried to kill Tony in: he has someone else do the job for him.
  • Kick the Dog: Sosa and the wife and children that would have been in the exploding car.
  • Kill 'em All: The film's ending. The only major characters to make it out unscathed are Sosa and Elvira.
  • The Last Dance: Tony's last stand.
  • Lighter and Softer: Beneath the gallons of blood and swearing the film is actually lighter in tone compared to the 1932 version, largely because of its protagonist: Tony Montana, for all the acts he commits, has lines he won't cross and makes a good point about how society needs people like him to blame for their own failings. Tony Camonte, the protagonist of the 1932 film, has no such moral lines or sentimentality. Montana's Large Ham tendencies and macho posturing is in stark contrast to Camonte's animalistic leering and barely-restrained rage. Camonte's relationship with his sister was more overtly incestuous as well, whereas this film leaves it more ambiguous.
  • Lonely at the Top: In spades. Even Tony lampshades this when he's sitting miserably in a restaurant with his wife and best friend who can barely stand him at this point.
  • Made of Iron: Tony at the end, due to being seriously coked-up.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Tony murders his best friend Manny, believing that he slept with his sister, Gina, for whom he harbors secret desires himself. However, she reveals that she and Manny are married.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When Tony fully realizes that he killed Manny in a rage, he immediately wishes he could take it back.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Gina, according to Tony.
  • Nebulous Criminal Conspiracy: When Sosa meets with Tony in Bolivia to plan the assassination of the journalist, others present are several high-ranking political, military, and business figures in Bolivia and their "friend from Washington," and it's stated that other "friends" they have in Washington can make Tony's criminal tax evasion case go away.
  • Never Going Back to Prison: What motivates Tony into a new deal with Sosa, as Tony can't stomach jail anymore, not even a short three year stint.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: Tony follows this rule.
    Tony: I never fucked anybody over in my life that didn't have it coming to 'em.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Ironically, despite all the vile things he does over the course of the film, Tony's ONE act of decency is what ultimately leads to his downfall.
  • Number Two: Manny to Tony.
  • One-Man Army: Tony becomes this in the final scene.
  • Parental Abandonment: Tony's father has left the family.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: The famous quote under Memetic Mutation.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: According to Tony, he does not like working with Colombians. In everyday life, he is a foulmouthed prick and a wife beater.
  • Psycho Serum: The partial-Implacability through cocaine.
  • Psycho Strings: The creepy tune that picks up every time Tony notices a guy hanging around Gina a little too closely.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: During dinner with her husband and Manny at some fancy restaurant, Elvie gets tired with Tony's continuous taunting and fires right back at him. And then she walks out on him and is not seen again. After that, Tony himself gives quite an epic one towards the crowd while he's drunk (see Evil Versus Evil above).
  • Redemption Equals Death: After Tony proves he's not so bad after all, he gets attacked and killed by Sosa's men.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When Sosa's army is storming his mansion, Tony is too coked up and too depressed from how badly his life has gone to do anything to stop them...until one of the hitmen shoots his little sister Gina.
  • Sanity Slippage:
    • Tony gets more crazy and insane every passing week or month due to his coke addiction.
    • Gina loses it after her brother killed Manny, her newlywed husband.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Tony's mother when he briefly reunites with her and offers her and his sister some money he had gotten... from less than honest ways.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Tony is ravaged by all of them, save maybe Sloth. Among these, his most fatal flaws are Wrath and Pride.
  • The Siege: The final siege of the mansion at the end of the movie.
  • Smite Me, O Mighty Smiter!: Invoked by Tony himself, where his restriction of jobs to kitchen duty leads him to continue down the path to a life of crime. And again during the finale when he yells at his attackers as he gets shot many times in the mansion, just before The Skull kills him.
  • Spiritual Successor: More than a Homage, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is basically a straight videogame reenactment of the story (mixed with Miami Vice and Carlito's Way) to the point it sparked a renewed interest in Scarface for a new generation. Its predecessor, Grand Theft Auto III, had a radio station that consisted of songs from the Scarface soundtrack.
  • The Stool Pigeon: Sosa believed Omar to have been this and dealt with him thusly.
  • Sudden Principled Stand: Throughout the film Tony has been a drug lord, a murderer, generally getting worse and worse. But seeing Sosa's hitman about to kill the target while the man's wife and kid are in the same car makes him draw the line.
  • Sunglasses at Night: The Skull, the assassin who kills Tony.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Omar and Tony hate each other's guts pretty much from the moment they meet. But they work together to get the deal with Sosa on the table (despite bickering amongst themselves a lot more than actually negotiating with Sosa). Of course, Sosa kills Omar, thinking him an informer, and to send a message to Tony not to screw with him. Tony really couldn't care less that Omar is gone.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Tony starts out the film as a crook, but it's not until he gains power that he allows himself to become a cocaine-addicted wreck. He constantly curses and acts like a cantankerous prick towards even his friends, and gets called out on it by almost everyone close to him.
  • Tragedy: A classical crime tragedy. Tony is shown to be a ruthless criminal who nontheless has redeeming qualities, is loyal to his friends and cares for his family. However his many flaws and an increasingly severe cocaine addiction brings a swift end to his criminal empire and in the end, Tony loses everything he built and everyone who ever cared about him is either dead or hates his guts. Even at the end, it's hard not feel bad for Tony.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Tony Montana's aggressiveness certainly didn't win him any allies, but you know he's doomed when he calls off the hit on the journalist by killing Alejandro Sosa's henchman, Alberto the Shadow. It was for a good reason, but if he'd thought out his actions he could have avoided the situation without antagonizing the only person who could have fixed the mess he was in. Then later, instead of trying to fix the situation, he kills Manny Ribera (his best friend), in a fit of rage, driving Gina (his own sister), to try to kill him.
  • Tragic Mistake: Tony killing Sosa's hitman resulted in antagonizing the one person who could have helped him out of his mess. Granted, the hitman deserved it, but that one act triggered Tony's downfall.
    • Getting high on his own supply brought its own set of problems, among them an impaired sense of judgement. This combined with his increasingly violent protectiveness about his sister resulted in him gunning down his right hand man Manny, who had just married Gina.
  • Two-Act Structure: The movie is split into two distinct acts. The first act is about Tony rising to the top of the Miami underworld. The second act is how everything goes to hell for Tony and everyone around him.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Played straight then subverted at the mansion siege.
  • Uriah Gambit: It is very heavily implied that Omar Suarez knew Hector and crew were likely to turn on Tony, and sent him on the "job" so he'd be killed.
  • Villainous Breakdown: In the last several minutes of the movie. Tony is alone in his office, coked out of his mind, being hit with the Heel Realization of killing his best friend ("What did I do? Oh Manny, what the fuck did I do?"). He sees Sosa's men on the security monitors and tries to recover. "We gotta get organized," he mumbles, trying to gather his thoughts, but there's no one to listen. He picks up a phone, but drops it without dialing; there's nobody to call. He needs someone he can trust to help him, but he's driven away or killed everyone that fits that profile. He's all alone and about to die and only has himself to blame. The only thing that snaps him out of it is when Gina gets gunned down by said men, and even then it's only enough to make him decide to kill as many of them as he can in blind fury and coke high.
  • Villainous Friendship: Tony and his eventual Dragon Manny Ribera start out the film as friends, which doesn't change as they start a criminal empire in Miami. Manny eventually gets fed up with Tony's more malicious behavior, like beating up his sister's touchy boyfriend. When Manny secretly elopes with Tony's sister his friend goes nuts and kills Manny in a jealous rage.
  • Villainous Incest: Tony can't have his sister and consequently doesn't want anyone else to have her. This is thrown back at him right before she's gunned down.
  • Villainous Valour: There's a variation of this trope for Tony Montana. In by far the most famous scene in the movie, he gets high on cocaine, grabs an AR-15 assault rifle, and takes on a veritable army of goons alone. Even when badly injured by gunfire, he stands and taunts his assailants. It takes a shotgun shell to the back at point blank range to finally put him down for good.
  • Villain Protagonist: Tony, a crass criminal drug dealer and occasional hitman, murders his boss to get to the top, is a controlling misogynist who becomes a cocaine-addicted wreck and burns all his bridges on his power-trip.
  • White Shirt of Death: Played straight when Tony stabs Rebenga and when Manny was shot by Tony. Inverted at the ending, Tony wears a black suit over his white shirt at the ending's shootout.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Tony Montana refuses to carry out a hit that would also kill the target's wife and kids. Tony's moral code allows him to kill only in defense or retaliation (in his words "I ain't never fucked nobody that didn't try to fuck me first"). His willingness to take part in that hit in the first place (the target being an activist who'd done nothing to him) showed that his principles were on the decline. His fellow mobsters don't share the same moral views which results in his downfall.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: How Tony proves he's not so bad. It's an interesting example, because protecting children by killing Sosa's assassin leads directly to Tony's death. On the other hand, he's only in that situation because he agreed to help kill an innocent man who'd done nothing to him. The moral of that particular story is left ambiguous.
  • You Bastard: The movie itself spend the first half of its duration challenging our sympathies for the protagonist, then it hits the audience in the face that they need people like him to point out about who's the "bad guy".

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/Scarface1983