If there's anyone who would appreciate pulling out the big guns it's Tony Montana, so it's appropriate that there were some pretty big names at the Scarface Blu-ray launch in LA.
Stars Al Pacino (Tony Montana), Steven Bauer (Manny Ribera), Robert Loggia (Frank Lopez), F. Murray Abraham (Omar Suarez) and producer Martin Bregman chatted on stage at the Belasco Theatre.
TF had a seat front and centre (and the largest Jameson on the rocks we've ever been handed) as they served up what was coming to us: the world of Scarface and everything in it.
Amazingly, the idea to remake Howard Hawks' 1932 film Scarface came from Pacino himself.
“My first experience [of the story] was seeing the Howard Hawks film Scarface and it was at the Tiffany Theatre here in Los Angeles on Sunset Boulevard. I went and saw the film and called Martin Bregman and said I think we could do this thing as a remake or something.
"And he very wisely and very astutely saw it, got out there, got it and put the whole thing together. I want to thank the late Sidney Lumet. It was his idea to have Tony Montana come from the boat lift in Cuba,” Pacino remembered.
From there Bregman had to put together the American Dream team, so to speak, of Brian De Palma and Oliver Stone. “I would like to say it took a lot of work but it didn't. It took four phone calls,” Bregman claimed.
“It was very interesting for me because I thought Oliver Stone and Brian De Palma were so different. Anyone who knows the film knows they did things differently. Oliver is much more socio-political involved in that, and Brian also has concerns about society but he also likes to do big things - pictures that have size. And I think that was his idea. And this merging of the two of them I think really was the key because I expected them to clash but they did the contrary. I think that's what's there up on that screen,” Pacino recalled.
“Oliver was banned from the set,” adds Abraham.
Of course Pacino was going to be first choice to play Tony Montana.
“Martin Bregman discovered me off Broadway. I was 26, 25. And he discovered me and became my manager. And that's why I'm here. I owe it to Marty, I really do,” Pacino said.
Asked if he could see the talent within Pacino, Bregman replied: “Very quick answer: yes. He moved me. The first time I saw him on stage he just moved me. I got involved in what he was trying to do and what he was doing.
It was a little play done by Israel Burrows and I never saw anything like that before. Another client of mine told me to go see him, forced me to. She came to my house one day and said I saw an extraordinary actor you have to go see him.”
That client: Faye Dunaway.
Still, the cast didn't know they were working on something that would later be hailed as a classic of the genre (Bregman calls it “a perfect film”). All they could do was put in a great performance.
“We rehearsed the movie. We weren't just going in there and doing it,” revealed Loggia. “And by the time we got to perform we were flying, we had wings. And we delivered.”
“It's also the reinvention of it, the fact that it came out and was not received that well,” added Pacino. “And we didn't feel that we were in something that was going to be lasting. It's amazing when something like that happens.
"It's very rare that a movie opens and it's usually instantly made as a classic, it's not eviscerated in the way this was and treated with disrespect. But as time went on it just stayed there and had this rebirth. It's almost like a miracle. There's a great expression, man's reach should exceed his grasp or what's a heaven for? And I think that's what we see in this movie.
“What would happen if this movie opened next week? Would it have the same kind of reaction? And I sort of think it would. The controversy over it [would be the same], because it does have built in controversy.”
For Pacino a big part of film's lasting charm - if that's the right word for a movie that at one stage held the record for the most F-bombs - is that there has been no sequel to tarnish it in the fans eyes.
“There's no part two, Scarface 3. There's none of that with this picture, it's just Scarface. And I think there's something about that,” he said.
“Can I tell you why? Because who would want to be held up to this,” said Steven Bauer, before joking, “Also, he died. Everybody died!”
“Every one of us is dead. That was a mistake Marty! You missed that one,” offered Abrahams.
“Everybody is always saying but Manny your toes were wiggling when we pulled away. Your toes were wiggling, you survived. And I'm like, no I didn't,” Bauer added, closing the door to a sequel once and for all.
Scarface is released on Blu-ray on 5 September 2011.
The Belasco Theatre, LA