From the madness of seventies L.A. to the excesses of seventies New York. There’s usually one movie a year that I rate above all others and in 1993 it was “Carlito’s Way” by a massive margin.
It’s directed by Brian DePalma who likes to swing big. He sometimes misses badly, but with this film he hit a home run. It’s one of his best.
It’s based on books by Edwin Torres, a New York judge (write what you know, right!), and adapted by prolific screenwriter David Koepp (who also swings big and has just as many hits as misses).
Al Pacino is fantastic as Carlito, a Puerto Rican ex-con trying to go straight. Penelope Ann Miller is wonderful as his old flame (she really should have become a much bigger star). And Sean Penn is brilliantly sleazy, and almost unrecognisable in a curly red wig, as Carlito’s lawyer.
DePalma has always been a huge fan of Hitchcock – often stealing his stories and his techniques. He racks up the tension throughout and the film contains some fantastic set-pieces. It should have won all the awards just for an early scene in a pool room. When I saw that scene I knew I was in for something special.
The production is amazing, it’s beautifully shot by Stephen H. Burum who had earlier worked on “The Untouchables” with DePalma. The score by Patrick Doyle is also Hitchcockian, moving, dramatic and emblematic of the times. And the soundtrack put together by Jellybean Benitez (Madonna’s producer) is seventies-tastic. It’s another must-see.