Book Talk: 25 years later, cult of "Scarface" lives on

Wed Dec 17, 2008 6:07am EST
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By Nick Zieminski

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A quarter century after the gangster epic "Scarface" opened to middling reviews and a modest box office, the violent story of a Cuban-born cocaine kingpin's rise and fall has taken on a life of its own.

The 1983 film, written by Oliver Stone, directed by Brian DePalma and starring Al Pacino as Tony Montana, still sells briskly on DVD.

In New York, Scarface portraits sell alongside famous faces like Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon and, lately, Barack Obama. "Scarface" calendars, clocks, video games, comic books, even shower curtains are also available.

The film has inspired a book, "Scarface Nation: The Ultimate Gangster Movie and How It Changed America." Its author Ken Tucker, editor-at-large for Entertainment Weekly magazine, spoke to Reuters about the phenomenon.

Q: Why this enduring fascination with 'Scarface'?

A: "People still quote all the famous lines: 'Say hello to my little friend,' 'Never underestimate the greed of the other guy.' Snoop Dogg said to me that unlike 'The Godfather', which is all about family, the important thing to him and a lot of rappers was that this was one guy who did it alone, who started from absolutely nothing. He had this code of loyalty (which drew) a lot of fans in the black and Hispanic communities. To a large extent, 'Scarface' went beyond just being a big-budget B-movie, it became a way to live your life.

"The DVD and various merchandise still sell millions of dollars. Its storyline is the story of (video game) Grand Theft Auto. It's quoted endlessly in TV shows and movies.

Q: Who makes money off of it?   Continued...