Al Pacino got more than he bargained for filming the iconic final sequence of Scarface.
Sidney Lumet was the first choice to helm Scarface; a film based around the rampant and deadly cocaine trade in early ‘80s Miami. But after creative differences with producer Martin Bregman, he stepped away from the project and Brian De Palma was drafted in as a replacement.
De Palma turned to Oliver Stone to pen the script, and although initially reluctant, he eventually agreed, visiting Miami to research the story and gaining access to the Miami police records. Stone was battling his own cocaine addiction and relocated to Paris to write the script in a state of sobriety.
The film is known for many iconic scenes, including the brutal bathroom chainsaw dissection (based on an actual event uncovered by Stone during his research) and of course, the final showdown.
In the finale, Tony Montana (Al Pacino) is holed up in his mansion with a mountain of cocaine on his desk, which he buries his nose in, unaware that his house is under assault by an army of cartel assassins.
One of the first low angle shots of a gunman approaching with a grappling hook was actually filmed by Steven Spielberg. Good friends, Spielberg and De Palma would visit each other on their respective sets and on this occasion, De Palma asked him whether he wanted to shoot the scene.
When Montana finally realises he is under attack, he reaches for his assault rifle, replete with grenade launcher, and utters the famous line, “Say hello to my little friend!” Whilst rehearsing for the forthcoming firefight, Pacino fired rounds of blanks from the rifle, and without thinking, grabbed the hot barrel with his left hand.
In Pacino’s words: “My hand stuck to the sucker.” The actor was so badly burnt, he was unable to film for two weeks. De Palma used the time to shoot different angles of the attacking gunmen.
Scarface performed well at the box office on release and is now regarded as a classic. However, critics derided it for its overt violence and graphic language and it was shunned by the Academy, receiving no Oscar nominations at the 1984 Academy Awards.