More Films to See Before You Die: #95 Carlito’s Way

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Carlito’s Way (1993)

Director: Brian DePalma

Cast: Al Pacino, Penelope Ann Miller, John Leguizamo and Sean Penn

Synopsis: Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino) is freed after serving 5 years of a 30 year sentence on a legal technicality exploited by his lawyer, Dave Kleinfeld (Sean Penn). Upon release from prison, Carlito decides to return to his old neighborhood of Spanish Harlem where, he reconnects with old associates. Carlito vows to be through with crime but is persuaded to accompany his cousin Guajiro to a drug deal at a bar. Guajiro is betrayed and killed and Carlito is forced to shoot his way out, he takes Guajiro’s money and uses it to buy into a nightclub. Carlito is approached by a young and ambitious gangster Benny Blanco (John Leguizamo) about a business partnership to which he quickly declines. He also reconnects with his old girlfriend Gail (Penelope Ann Miller) who he left behind when he went to prison. Carlito plans to save money in order to retire in the Caribbean with Gail. All of his plans are threatened when his lawyer gets in hot water with a powerful mobster client and asks for Carlito’s assistance.

Trivia: The exterior of the hospital where Carlito visits his bedridden attorney is the same one where Vito Corleone is taken in The Godfather (1972), also starring Al Pacino. Director Brian De Palma wanted to shoot the climax of the film at the World Trade Center in New York but it was the target of a bombing, and he had to shoot it in “another railway station again.” (De Palma’s The Untouchables (1987) also featured a scene at a railway station.)

Why Should You Watch This?: Brian DePalma has made some great films my personal favourites are his mob films. My favourite being the Untouchables but what makes Carlito’s Way so special is how different it is from Scarface. Sean Penn is wonderfully slimey as Carlito’s attorney and Penelope Ann Miller has great chemistry with Pacino who anchors the film with yet another solid performance.

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