Mega Producer Robert Evans likes to tell stories about Hollywood parties with mountains of white powder spread across mirrored coffee tables. Tuesday night at the Belasco Theater in Los Angeles, I finally saw one myself. Except this mountain of powder was just sugar, part of the set dressing for a Q&A celebrating the 25th anniversary Blu-Ray of Brian De Palma’s 1983 gangster opus, Scarface.
The Q&A, with Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Robert Loggia, F. Murray Abraham and producer Martin Bregman covered the whole of the film’s history, ranging from discussion of the original 1932 Howard Hawks film, to the poor critical reception upon release, through to the film’s rebirth as required viewing for hip-hop heads everywhere. Read on for a description of the night and key quotes. The new Blu-ray of Scarface hits stores on September 6th.
Al Pacino hit the stage with bling around his neck and a dress shirt buttoned only to his mid-chest. He strutted over to the seat of honor, an oversized leather throne emblazoned with Tony Montana’s monogram, the nightclub’s stage was mocked up to echo Montana’s mansion with a plethora of nude sculptures and even more Day-Glo colors. Waiters served Cuban cuisine inside while smokers enjoyed hand rolled cigars on the patio.
After the Q&A, Ludacris hit the stage for a 50-minute set. He is much stronger with a live band than he is with just a DJ and smartly chose to structure his performance as a sort of extended medley, eschewing deep cuts in favor of one of two verses from almost all of his many radio hits. Lots of pretty blonde girls in expensive dresses went gaga for it. I enjoyed singing along to the verses I heard sampled in Girl Talk songs.
- The film came together after Pacino saw a revival showing of the original 1932 Howard Hawks film. Pacino called up Bregman and said, “I think there’s a remake in this, I think we can do something with this.”
- “I would like it took to say it took a lot of work,” said Bregman. “But it took four telephone calls.”
- As the film developed, Sidney Lumet gave input. It was his idea that Montana begin the story as a Cuban refugee arriving on raft.
- Pacino, famous for his use of method acting, got deep into his character while filming for thirteen hours a day, six days a week. Halfway through production when a dog barked at him and rushed forward, Pacino found himself pulling back his arm to strike on reflex.
- And while Montana is often compared to his other famous criminal protagonist, Michael Corleone from The Godfather, Pacino insists that Montana is the more memorable role. “There’s no Scarface 2, no part three, none of that with this picture. There’s just Scarface. And I think there’s something to that.
- “Most of the world comes from hunger or comes from very, very meager beginnings,” added Bauer. “So most of the word identifies with Tony Montana. Let’s face it, you all identify with someone who comes from nothing and wants it all. And almost gets it. In fact, what happens is, he gets it and it’s not enough. And that’s the moral.”
- Though much of the cast and crew was already well-established within Hollywood, the film had a difficult time in post-production. Early screenings, like one held in Texas, went horribly.
- After one industry screening, Liza Minnelli, who had not seen the film, walked up to Pacino and asked him, “What have you done to these people?”
- But the film was not without its’ proponents. Steven Spielberg was a fan and his enthusiasm kept the studio positive.
- Another supporter was Martin Scorsese who said, “Great movie. But people in Hollywood are going to hate it…because it’s about them!”
Finally, here’s some video from the event: