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#071 Brian De Palma: Scarface vs. Home Movies





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In today's episode Nate and Austin compare Brian De Palma's best and worst rated films, Scarface (1983) and Home Movies (1979), respectively. Nate was bored to death, Austin hates on cinematography, and they both explain what's happening with the livestreams. Check back next Sunday at 7pm PST where we will compare Francois Truffaut's The 400 Blows (1959) and A Gorgeous Girl Like Me (1972), his best and worst rated films.
Also check out this interview with director Brian De Palma about Scarface: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1G5o4M3BIsw

Home Movies Notes

Worst Rated

PLOT: Keith Gordon is a creative young man who films the oddball doings of his family and peers.
  • Ratings: IMDb 5.2 | RT N/A C / N/A A
  • Released: 1979
  • Director: Brian De Palma
  • Writer(s): Kim Ambler, Brian De Palma(story), Dana Edelman, Robert Harders, Stephen Le May, Charlie Loventhal, Gloria Norris
  • Cinematographer: James L. Carter (Ladder 49, My Dog Skip, Tuck Everlasting)
  • Notable actors: Nancy Allen, Mary Davenport, Kirk Douglas, Vincent Gardenia, Keith Gordon, Gerrit Graham, Captain Haggerty, Therese Saldana
  • Budget: $400,000
  • Box office: $89,134
  • Fun Facts:
    • Shot by students of De Palma's Independent Filmmaking course at Sarah Lawrence College. Intended to be a "learn by doing" experience for the students and grad students, the goal was to budget, finance, shoot, and edit the film using primarily students, with De Palma overseeing.
    • Kirk Douglas was brought on after much debate, mostly concerning costs, but Douglas ended up becoming an investor in the film as well.
    • From an interview in the January 1979 issue of Take One, De Palma said the movie was originally budgeted at $50,000, but then went to $100,000, $150,000 and finally settled at a cost he calls "under a million".
    • Co-Directed by De Palma with a rotating set of student directors; he defined their contribution of roughly 5 percent of the shots in the film.

Scarface Notes

Best Rated

PLOT: In Miami in 1980, a determined Cuban immigrant takes over a drug cartel and succumbs to greed.
  • Ratings: IMDb 8.3 | RT 82% C / 93% A
  • Released: 1983
  • Director: Brian De Palma
  • Writer(s): Oliver Stone (screenplay), Armitage Trail (based on the novel by), Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht (1932 screenplay)
  • Cinematographer: John A. Alonzo (Chinatown, Star Trek: Generations, Harold and Maude)
  • Notable actors: Al Pacino, Steven Bauer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Robert Loggia, Miriam Colon, F. Murray Abraham, Paul Shenar, Harris Yulin, Angel Salazar, Pepe Serna
  • Budget: $25 million
  • Box office: $65.9 million
  • Fun Facts:
    • When Scarface (1983) was re-released in theaters in 2003, the studio wanted Brian De Palma to change the soundtrack so that rap songs inspired by the movie could be used. De Palma refused.
    • Oliver Stone wrote this film while fighting a cocaine addiction. He had moved to Paris to be away from a plentiful supply of the drug in the U.S.
    • When director Brian De Palma submitted the film to the MPAA, they gave it an "X rating". He then made some cuts and resubmitted it a second time; again the film was given an "X rating" (one of the reasons apparently being that Octavio the clown was shot too many times). He yet again made some further cuts and submitted it a third time; yet again it was given an "X". De Palma refused to cut the film any further to qualify it for an R. He and producer Martin Bregman arranged a hearing with the MPAA. They brought in a panel of experts, including real narcotics officers, who stated that not only was the film an accurate portrayal of real life in the drug underworld, but ultimately it was an anti-drug film, and should be widely seen. This convinced the arbitrators that the third submitted cut of the film deserved an "R rating" by a vote of 18-2. However, De Palma surmised that if the third cut of the film was judged an "R" then the very first cut should have been an "R" as well. He asked the studio if he could release the first cut but was told that he couldn't. However since the Studio execs really didn't know the differences between the different cuts that had been submitted, De Palma released the first cut of the film to theaters anyway. It wasn't until the film had been released on videocassette months later that he confessed that he had released his first unedited and intended version of the film.
    • In the scene where Tony is in the bathtub watching TV, he says to Manny, "Look at dem pelicangs fly." This line was what Al Pacino practiced with a language coach to get the Cuban accent right.
    • Robert De Niro was offered the lead role but turned it down.
    • The word "yeyo" is used by Tony Montana (Al Pacino) as a slang word for cocaine. This word was not in the script, and was ad-libbed by Pacino during the first drug deal scene (chainsaw scene), and Brian De Palma liked it enough to keep using it throughout the film. Pacino learned the word while learning the Cuban accent.
    • Al Pacino reportedly stated that Tony Montana was one of his favorites of all the characters he's played.

Intro music by Eric Lynch
 

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