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Carlito’s Way (1993)

Ten years after Scarface (1983), Pacino and director Brian De Palma reunited here for another crime-doesn’t-pay drama.

Carlito Brigante is a Puerto Rican assassin and drug dealer (although Pacino seems as Puerto Rican as Doris Day) from the East Harlem barrio who, after five years of a 30-year sentence in prison, gets out on appeal in 1975 and plans to go straight on a beach in the Bahamas.

All he needs is $75,000 to retire with his naughty-but-nice stripper and would-be ballerina girlfriend, Gail (Penelope Ann Miller) and buy a rental-car agency.

carlitosway_053To get the money, he joins his cocaine-addicted shyster lawyer Dave Kleinfeld (Sean Penn, pictured at right) in a plot to break another goon out of Riker’s Island on the lawyer’s yacht.

Carlito finds himself a deadly pawn between the crooks in the D.A.’s office and the crooks on the street – particularly a scuzzy rat called “Benny Blanco From the Bronx” who eventually leads a final shootout in Grand Central Station.

De Palma’s visual flair comes into its own in the seedy clubs and backstreet dives of New York, and the set pieces – a poolroom fight, a 15-minute subway chase and shenanigans on a train station escalator – are among the most thrilling De Palma has ever filmed, while Pacino’s restrained performance as the leather-clad, gently lisping Carlito allows plenty of scope for the supporting cast to chew the scenery.

But the thing which gives Carlito’s Way most of its emotional impact is the tragic sense and weight of hard experience that always shows in Pacino’s face. It’s the face of a man weary of seeing too much death.

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There’s simply no actor better suited to the role of the street-smart survivor, trying to keep his act together for one last score.

Carlito Brigante
Al Pacino
Dave Kleinfeld
Sean Penn
Gail
Penelope Ann Miller
Benny Blanco
John Leguizamo
Saso
Jorge Porcel
Steffie
Ingrid Rogers
Pachanga
Luis Guzman
Norwalk
James Rebhorn
Vinnie Taglialucci
Joseph Siravo
Tony Taglialucci
Frank Minucci
Lalin
Viggo Mortensen
Pete
Richard Foronjy
Frankie
Adrian Pasdar
Guajiro
John Ortiz
Walberto
Angel Salazar
Rolando
Al Israel
Quisqueya
Rick Aviles
Rudy
Jaime Sanchez
Battaglia (Big Guy)
Edmonte Salvato
Judge Feinstein
Paul Mazursky
Manzanero
Frank Ferrara

Director
Brian De Palma