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Mob Mondays – Five True Mob Stories Behind Scarface

On the final Mob Monday, Scarface airs at 9:30am/8:30c, followed by The Godfather at 1:30/12:30c, The Godfather: Part II at 5:30/4:30c, and the finale of The Making of the Mob: New York at 10/9c. Director Brian De Palma’s film tells the tale of the excessive violence of the Miami drug trade and the gangsters trying to shoot their way to the top. Which real Mafioso inspired the story? Which on-screen death was based on FBI and DEA records? Read on to discover five true mob stories behind Scarface:

1. Tony Montana (Al Pacino) was based on real-life mobster Al Capone.
Scarface is loosely based on a 1932 film of the same name, in which the main character, Tony Camonte, is inspired by infamous Mafioso Al Capone, one of the most notorious crime lords in mob history. Both Capone and Montana were major crime bosses in their cities, both had major hits put out on them, and, most notably, both had deep scars on their faces, earning them the moniker, “Scarface.” However, Capone died of cardiac arrest while surrounded by friends and family, rather than being gunned down in a hail of bullets.

2. The real Scarface got his scar in a bar fight.
Scarface doesn’t mention how Tony Montana got his famous scars, but history reveals how the real Scarface, Al Capone, got his nickname. While working at a bar in Brooklyn, Capone insulted a female customer. The woman’s brother demanded Capone apologize to her, and when Capone refused, the woman’s brother slashed Capone’s face with a knife. Capone’s wound required 80 stitches.

3. The U.S. Government paved the way for the real Scarface to rise to power.
It’s a universal truth that when someone tells you, “Don’t touch that,” you only want it more. For both Al Capone and Tony Montana, the law’s increasingly hardline stance on illegal substances actually made it easier for them to rise to power. For Montana, it was a crackdown on cocaine during the rise of the “War on Drugs;” for Capone, it was alcohol, prostitution and drugs during the Prohibition Era. In fact, once Prohibition was repealed in Chicago, Capone’s organized crime syndicate, the Chicago Outfit, began keeping a much lower profile.

4. Scarface‘s infamous chainsaw scene was based on a real-life event.
While doing research for the Scarface script, screenwriter Oliver Stone obtained access to FBI and DEA files and came across an inspiration for the scene in which Colombian drug dealer Hector the Toad attempts to rip Tony off, dismembering Tony’s Cuban associate, Angel, with a chainsaw. Though Stone dramatized the event for the movie, the real-life chainsaw story from the early days of the war on drugs is on the record.

5. The film’s violence was deemed “educational” by the ratings board.
Director Brian De Palma had an uphill battle with the ratings board, which wanted to give the movie an X rating for its depictions of extreme violence. De Palma brought the film in front of law enforcement agents, who testified that the violent scenes were accurate depictions of the Miami drug trade. De Palma argued that the film was therefore educational, and provided the public and the police department with insider knowledge about organized crime. The ratings board ultimately relented, and gave the film an R rating instead.

Don’t miss the Mob Mondays presentation of Scarface, this Monday, August 3 at 9:30am/8:30c on AMC, followed by The Godfather at 1:30/12:30c and The Godfather: Part II at 5:30/4:30c. Then stay tuned for the finale of AMC’s docu-drama The Making of the Mob: New York at 10/9c to learn more true stories of the American Mafia. Get all the news and exclusives first. Sign up for the AMC Weekly.

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