While his contribution went uncredited, Steven Spielberg stepped in to direct a small scene at the climax of Brian De Palma’s Scarface.
While Scarface (1983) is one of director Brian De Palma’s most popular movies, Steven Spielberg stepped in to help direct one climactic scene. Steven Spielberg’s first major directorial success was in 1975 with the blockbuster hit Jaws and has since become one of the greatest directors of all time. Spielberg began his career mostly focusing on sci-fi and adventure films like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) but has branched out to winning Academy Awards for his gut-wrenching dramas such as Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Schindler’s List (1993).
Scarface stars Al Pacino as Tony Montana, a penniless Cuban immigrant in Miami, Florida, who climbs into wealth and power as a dominant drug lord. Since its premiere in 1983, the film has taken on its own life in pop culture in reference to drugs, money, and power, and has become especially influential in the hip hop genre. Scarface was Brian De Palma’s third blockbuster hit after Carrie (1976) and Dressed to Kill (1980), and launched him into the status of prominent suspense and crime director in Hollywood.
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According to Vogue, Steven Spielberg directed a short scene in Scarface during the raid on Tony Montana’s house at the end of the movie. The part that Spielberg shoots is the low-angle shot of when the attackers are coming into Tony’s house while using grappling hooks. Spielberg’s direction wasn’t a substantial contribution, but it was an interesting scene to add to his portfolio for the intense action shots he had yet to film. The Indiana Jones movies had a few fight scenes that likely inspired Spielberg, but nothing as dark as a gunfight to assassinate a drug lord.
Spielberg and De Palma were apparently good friends at the time and were known to frequent each other’s movie sets. The two directors had always wanted to collaborate on a film, so when Spielberg was on set for Scarface‘s climactic gunfight scene, De Palma convinced him to take over one of the early shots. Spielberg apparently wanted his contribution to be uncredited so as to not take any creative recognition away from De Palma. Fortunately for De Palma, Spielberg didn’t ask to take over the infamous “say hello to my little friend” part of the scene.
At the time of his Scarface directing bit, Spielberg had just come off of E.T. in 1982 and may have been searching for a way to ease into a darker, more dramatic style of movies. While the scene of Tony’s house raid is one of the most famous crime scenes in history, it’s not the most violent scene Spielberg has shot. Considering the early Omaha Beach scene in Saving Private Ryan puts one right in the middle of the deadly World War II battle, Scarface was just a preview of the violence Spielberg was waiting to portray. It’s only a matter of time until the world gets a full feature gangster movie from Spielberg to add to the classics by Coppola, Scorsese, and De Palma.
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