1983 Certificate: 18


Powder to the people! Al Pacino bellows and snorts his way to celluloid immortality as Tony Montana, the Cuban druglord who takes control of Florida... but loses control of himself. Director Brian De Palma conducts the symphony of bloodshed with operatic overkill while Michelle Pfeiffer's cocaine-addled wife looks on as Tony introduces everyone to his "leedle friends".


  • Brian De Palma


  • Al Pacino

  • Michelle Pfeiffer

  • Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio

  • Steven Bauer

  • Robert Loggia


In May 1980, Fidel Castro opened the harbour at Mariel, Cuba, to let some of his people join their families in the United States.

Most of the 125,000 'marielitos' who streamed into Florida were honest, hard-working people - eager for a new life in a free land. But not all...

Brian De Palma's blood-and-sun-drenched saga of a penniless but fiercely ambitious Cuban deportee's rise to the top of Miami's cocaine business, centres around Tony Montana (Pacino).

His brilliant mind, backbone, and capacity for unbridled violence help him skyrocket from dishwasher to drug runner to king of his own white-powder empire.

Michelle Pfeiffer plays the neglected coke-addicted trophy wife to perfection.

Her naivete, vanity and deep-rooted insecurity are portrayed in such a way that she is a sympathetic character with no redeeming qualities.

Icily glamorous, she steals the show in many scenes.

Pacino's drug-crazed, bloodshot performance gives this gangster movie a terrifying edge.

Controversially, Montana's eventual paranoia and incestuous desire for his little sister (Mastrantonio) prove his undoing.

The film is brutally violent and lacks any positive characters, yet is one of the most thrilling and watchable movies ever made.

Oliver Stone wrote the screenplay, based on Howard Hawks's 1932 version, which was ostensibly about Al Capone and starred Paul Muni.

The score, the visuals, and the characterisation expertly evoke the drug-fuelled decadence of 1980s Miami.

The scene in a motel room with a chainsaw is embedded deeply into the minds of anyone who's ever seen it...

Rob Daniel