Don’t call it a remake. Scarface is a tale that has loomed large in cinema since first incarnated in a 1932 film starring Paul Muni, George Raft, and Boris Karloff, a tale elevated to infamy thanks to the 1983 telling by Brian De Palma. Now there will be a third major version as Universal preps a picture that will once again show how an immigrant gangster violently rises to the top of his chosen ‘profession’ thanks to ruthless ambition.

Deadline reports on the film, saying explicitly that Universal isn’t trying to remake either of the previous films. There aren’t writers at this point, though producers Marc Shmuger and Martin Bregman have reportedly been meeting with possible scribes. Until someone is hired, we’re not likely to know what the studio really intends from the film.

And why not? The Howard Hawks/Richard Rosson version from ’32 is an early crime classic, but the De Palma version is nowhere near as strong as its reputation would suggest. (It is a valuable portrait of early ’80s excess, however, and not a movie to be dismissed, if only because it does carry a lot of weight in popular culture.) Granted, I’d rather have something altogether new than a picture that uses the reputations of two other movies to leapfrog into the public eye, but I can wait to see who Universal hires for this project before even thinking about  jumping to conclusions. People already cried out against a new version when the De Palma was announced and released, and that changed nothing about the Hawks version. Maybe this third take will work, too.

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