Carlito’s Way (1993) – Brian D Palma (Friday’s Finest)

Warning: The following contains offensive language.

Benny Blanco: I don’t know, but there may be some mis-fuckin’-understanding, I don’t know man, but maybe you don’t remember me, my name is Benny Blanco…

Carlito: Maybe I don’t give a shit. Maybe I don’t remember the last time I blew my nose either. Who the fuck are you, I should remember you? What, you think you like me? You ain’t like me motherfucker. You a punk. I’ve been with made people, connected people. Who you been with? Chain-snatching, jive-ass, maricon motherfuckers. Why don’t you get lost? Go a head, snatch a purse. Come on, take a fuckin’ walk.

Feisty – looking Benny Blanco (The punk who Carlito refers to above) is played magnificently by John Leguizamo who was born in Bogota, Colombia where I reside. He should be a familiar face to those cinephiles out-there by featuring in minor roles in Casualties of War (1989) and Die Hard 2 (1990) before playing a liquor store thief who shoots Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry (1991).

Carlito’s Way is one of my favourite crime-thrillers, but received a lukewarm result at the box-office (the film was criticized for re-treading old ground, mainly De Palma’s own Scarface and The Untouchables) but subsequently has become a cult film. This is the second film collaboration between Pacino and De Palma, after 1983’s film, Scarface.

IMDB Storyline: A Puerto Rican ex-con pledges to stay away from his former drug dealing ways but finds himself being dragged back by his past connections and the naive machinations of his lawyer and best friend. Hoping to raise enough money to get away from New York, Carlito Brigante takes on the job of running a nightclub, renews an affair with a dancer but old associates and old instincts suck him back into a world of violence and mistrust.

Wikipedia states: ‘Pacino first heard about the character Carlito Brigante in a YMCA gym in New York City in 1973. Pacino was working out for his movie Serpico when he met New York state supreme court Judge Edwin Torres (the author who was writing the novels Carlito’s Way and After Hours). When the novels were completed Pacino read them and liked them, especially the character of Carlito…De Palma, reluctantly, read the script and as soon as Spanish-speaking characters cropped up he feared it would be Scarface all over again. When De Palma finally did read it all the way through, he realized it was not what he thought it was. De Palma liked the script and envisioned it as a noir movie.’

It is said the climactic finale chase scene took months and months to film. “We started the chase in the winter,” said Brian De Palma, “and finished it in the middle of summer.” Al Pacino’s black coat started to cause the actor issues when they were filming the chase from train carriage to train carriage, as it was the height of summer. “He was sweating to death.” said De Palma. “At one point he said he’d had enough and he actually took the train home.

Carlito’s Way would have been dominated by Al Pacino had it not been for the superb performance of Sean Penn as Carlito’s irksome and conniving lawyer. Penelope Ann Miller play’s a young dancer who is fascinated by Carlo Brigante and is drawn to him. For the audience she embodies us and our fascination. For Pacino she represents the good life he aspires to. The first temptation is to say – I know this story, but Al Pacino and Sean Penn are masters of transforming the known story in something real original and this is the basic virtue of film – it is not The Godfather or Scarface. It is a story about survival, fights, the rise and the fall. It can’t reduced at simplicity of sketches, cliches or stereotypes. It is an alive story.

“The more I live, the more I learn. The more I learn, the more I realize, the less I know.”- Michel Legrand

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Posted in Movies and TV
8 comments on “Carlito’s Way (1993) – Brian D Palma (Friday’s Finest)
  1. Nicely put! A fantastic film! Watched it again recently! It just gets better!!

  2. I gotta fuckin’ see it.

    • I think it will be right up your fkn alley.

      • LOL – I’m relieved you got my rather crude joking comment! As you know I’m not a very good movie buff – I’ve decided it’s because… well, we joined Netflix a few years ago – and they wouldn’t let us see foreign movies – it was all NZ-made NZ-made NZ-made. So we said an expletive and left Netflix and I haven’t watched a movie since.

      • That’s strange they had only NZ content. I’m not a big fan of Netflix, since their are very few old classics available or first-rate foreign movies. Most of it is modern shite, but the mother of my kids likes Netflix and so do the kids, so I have access to their account. On the rare occasion, I find something appealing.

      • We have a television for the news – and on a special occasion we download something off the net and play that – like I have had to sleep through “Gone with the wind” three times!

      • I have a folder of movies I’ve downloaded from the net and I have yet to seen many of those. ‘Gone With the Wind’ is one of those downloaded which I need to see again since it has been aeons. My Mum was a big fan.

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