STUDIO: Universal
MSRP: $22.98
RUNNING TIME: 145 Minutes
Deleted Scenes
Making of Carlito’s Way
An interview with Brian DePalma

In my
last DVD review, I made a small joke at the expense of Brian DePalma. Not to rehash the whole thing, but basically
I made mention of the fact that DePalma has made some shitty movies and when
he’s done so, his supporters have actually stood up to him by saying things
like ‘it was supposed to be bad’
(most specifically in reference to Raising

Now, I’m
not going to go back on that statement, but I do want to make something clear:
I am in awe of Brian DePalma’s talent behind the camera and am a huge fan of a
number of his films. His skill as a
director is head and shoulders above that of the great majority of filmmakers out
there today. He brings class and style
to all of the films he makes. Sometimes,
in my opinion, he goes too far with his style and makes pictures that are more
exercises in technique than they are coherent movies (most specifically, I’d
point to Femme Fatale).

he has without a doubt made a number of the best movies of the last 25 years of
the 20th century. Carrie, Blow Out, Scarface, and The Untouchables are inarguably classic
pictures. Today I’m looking at Carlito’s Way, DePalma’s second gangster
film working with Al Pacino, and based on a character created by author Edwin
Torres. So, is it on par with his
earlier classics, or more in line with his lesser films?

carlito cap 1
Thanks to the advent of flying garbage trucks, New Yorkers can now leave their garbage on their rooftops rather than the streets.

The Flick

“A favor will kill you faster than
a bullet.”

Brigante is a legend of the streets.
He’s moved so much dope that his name is synonymous with street
trafficking in NYC (though he was never convicted on no dope). Except, times have changed. It’s 1975 and Carlito has recently been
released from a 30 year sentence after only 5 years due to the diligent work of
his good friend and lawyer David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn) and the revelation of
illegal phone taps that got him pinched in the first place. Upon his release Carlito makes it known to
everyone (in a great scene in the courthouse) that he has seen the error of his
ways and is devoted to a life free of the criminal activities that put him in
prison in the first place.

course, we all know that things aren’t going to end up being that easy. When you’re a lifetime criminal, especially
one so revered, the life doesn’t escape you just because you want it to do
so. Sure enough, Carlito isn’t out for
even one day before he’s pulled toward the life once again.

CHUD EXCLUSIVE: A clip from The Guzman’s screen test as Bill the Butcher

We’ve all
seen such movies many times before in the past.
You know the way it goes, an aging criminal has had enough and tries to
stay away but is pulled back into the criminal underworld by powers seemingly
out of his control. But don’t judge this
movie on it’s seemingly cliché premise.
The action, direction and writing take this movie above your typical

The key
to this film is that while we know Carlito was once a cold-blooded killer and
drug dealer, we don’t see that side of him.
We only know him from his point of enlightenment. At the point he’s released from prison, we
only see a man with the drive to leave the life completely, to make amends to
those who helped him, and to win back the love of his life that he left 5 years
earlier. He’s not interested in one last
score, or taking advantage of his name to screw cheap women. Carlito has become a good guy, but it’s that
goodness that will eventually be his undoing.

carlito cap 3
"Excuse me, waiter! I believe I ordered my Leguizamo Italian, NOT Hispanic…send it back!"

love is Gail (Penelope Ann Miller), a dancer who’s dream to work on Broadway has
become a bit derailed in the time he’s been away. When Carlito first approaches her after his
release, she tries her best to resist, but it’s obvious in the way that she
looks at him that she’s still in love with him.
Once Carlito makes enough money working as manager of a club owned by
Kleinfeld, he’s going to whisk her off to the tropics to live a quiet life

previously mentioned, though, things aren’t that easy. Carlito owes his life to Kleinfeld, and will
do anything he can to make it up to him.
Unfortunately, Kleinfeld too has changed. He’s a lawyer for a number of criminals, and
he doesn’t have the same sense of loyalty to his clients that he had for
Carlito. Kleinfeld has pissed off a mob
boss (played, apparently, by an actual mafioso) and is too coked-out to figure
his own way out of it. Of course, the
one person he can trust to help him out of his situation is none other than the
one person who wants to stay as far away from trouble as he can.

We can
empathize with Carlito. We understand
his dream of getting away, but we also understand his inability to watch his
best friend die. Many of us have had
friends like this. A guy/girl who we
love, but who we know is always getting themselves into trouble. You can’t just turn them away, but you can’t
judge them, you can’t tell them to stop what they’re doing. Your girl knows better and warns you about
the impending trouble he’s bound to cause, but you can’t listen. He’s your boy and you’ve got his back no
matter what.

also has a problem with an up-and-coming drug pusher named Bennie Blanco (from
the Bronx), played by John Leguizamo in a part
that plays to his smarmy, annoying acting style. Blanco sees himself as the new Carlito, and
wants to befriend him. Carlito recognizes
himself in Bennie, and this brings out the worst in him.

carlito cap 4
Thing have gotten so bad for JCVD, he’s resorted to running around checking other men’s pants to make sure they ‘never wahr block seelk underwahr’.

We know
how the movie is going to end as soon as it begins, but that only makes it more
tragic. Throughout the film we keep
hoping for Carlito to make the right choice, the safe choice, but we also know
that he can’t.

really makes the movie work is both the stellar acting and direction. While Pacino may seem to lose his accent once
in a while, that’s about the least important aspect of his role. The movie doesn’t work if we don’t feel for
Carlito, and Pacino pulls if off wonderfully.
We haven’t seen a Pacino this subtle in a long time.

Sean Penn
is his typical great self, and not just because he uglied himself up for the
part. We watch Kleinfeld’s fast spiral
into a world that he cannot understand is both frightening and sad. Even Penelope Ann Miller is able to come off
not only as beautiful (which she very much is in this movie), but soulful and
torn apart by her broken dreams.

direction is perfect throughout the film.
He doesn’t overpower the film with his visual tricks, but rather is
subdued when the situation calls for it and only uses his trademark tracking
shots when it supports the plot of the film.
The climactic scene in Grand Central Terminal is nothing short of
spectacular filmmaking. No other
director makes such difficult shots appear so effortless.

isn’t just a movie for fans of gangster films, and in fact will be a let-down
for people expecting a sequel to Scarface. It’s a great drama that men may have to
convince their significant other to watch with them, but they’ll be grateful
that you did.

8.5 out of 10

carlito cap 5
"Actually, my magic power is that I’m inhabited by the back half of Richard Dawson"

The Look

As I
mentioned, DePalma’s work is great in this movie, and it’s only enhanced by a
fantastic anamorphic transfer. I must
tell you, though, that a high-definition television set hasn’t yet been part of
my family budget, so I can only tell you how great it looks on a regular old
Sony Triniton. I can’t imagine it looks
anything but even better on an HD, though.

9.5 out of 10

The Noise

while I haven’t yet had the privilege to get an HD set, I do have a 5.1 digital
surround sound system, and the sound was fantastic. In a lot of the club scenes there’s a lot of
loud music that could’ve drown out the vocal, but never does. It’s a great mix. Overall, it’s wonderful work.

9.0 out of 10

The Goodies

This is
the ULTIMATE EDITION, so you know it’s full of great shit, right? Not really.
There are a couple of nice features.
One is a five minute interview with DePalma, which is pretty
interesting, but how much can you really get out of five minutes? The answer is: not much. Still, it’s interesting to listen to him talk
about the film, and about himself. I
don’t think he has much respect for anyone who doesn’t love his movies, and I
get the impression that he doesn’t think he’s made a bad film. Not that I mind, though. Just like my quarterbacks, I like my
directors to be cocky.

also a half-hour featurette looking back on the making of Carlito’s Way. It contains
some interviews with the producer Martin Bregman, writer David Koepp, Penelope Ann Miller, and
DePalma. There’s some nice information
contained within, but it’s mostly just fluff.

There are
about 10 deleted scenes, but a couple of them are only about 5 seconds
long. You have to wonder why the hell
they even bother, you know? I guess they
realize how not-ultimate this package was and decided to shove in anything they
could find.

The rest
of the special features is filled out with photos & trailers.

I have to
admit, though, that the transfer and the sound of this DVD are so great, it’s
as if they are the real special features.
I know that’s a copout to a lot of you (and since I already graded the
look and sound, I’ll not include them in the special features grade), but I’m
more than happy with this package.

3.5 out of 10

The Package

There’s a
shiny silver slipcover that while it looks cool, tracks fingerprints like an
iPod. Very simple artwork makes the
regular DVD case attractive, though it’s obviously trying to appeal to the Scarface
crowd (which as I
mentioned earlier, is more than a bit disingenuous).

8.0 out of 10

Overall: 8.5 out of 10