1990s Crime Thriller On Peacock Is A Severely Underrated Gangster Movie

By Charlene Badasie | Published

carlito's way

The 1993 crime drama Carlito’s Way, directed by Brian De Palma from a script by David Koepp, is streaming on Peacock. The film is based on the 1975 and 1979 Judge Edwin Torres novels Carlito’s Way and After Hours. It stars Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller, Luis Guzman, John Leguizamo, Jorge Porcel, Joseph Siravo, and Viggo Mortensen.

Carlito Gets Out

Carlito’s Way tells the story of Carlito Brigante (Al Pacino), who vows to leave his life of crime behind and retire after spending five years in jail. But Carlito is eventually drawn back into the criminal world when he accompanies his young cousin Guajiro (John Augstin Ortiz) to a drug deal. When the meeting turns sour, Carlito has to fight his way out using lethal force.

Still hoping to retire in the Caribbean, our hero takes $30,000 from the botched deal and buys into a nightclub owned by Saso. He also reconnects his romance with his ex-girlfriend Gail (Penelope Ann Miller), who spends her days working as a ballet dancer and as a stripper at night. Meanwhile, gangster Benny Blanco (John Leguizamo) becomes frustrated with Carlito, who keeps refusing to go into business with him.


carlito's way

Fueled by alcohol and drugs, Carlito’s shady lawyer and best friend, Dave Kleinfeld (Sean Penn), threatens to kill Benny. As Carlito’s Way progresses, the titular character gets more involved in the criminal underworld and the mob. Desperate to escape, Carlito eventually cuts ties with Dave and plans to leave town with Gail. But things don’t turn out as they should.

Not Everyone Loved It At First

carlito's way

After its release, Carlito’s Way was met with mixed reviews as critics felt it was too similar to De Palma’s other films, Scarface and The Untouchables. The film performed moderately well at the box office, earning $64 million from a budget of $30 million. Viewers have warmed to the movie in the years since its release with a strong cult following.

It’s Since Earned A Better Rep

These days, Carlito’s Way is regarded as one of De Palma’s most impressive works. Penn and Miller earned Golden Globe nominations for their roles. Although the movie is primarily inspired by After Hours, it used the first novel’s title to distinguish it from Martin Scorsese’s 1985 film of the same name. A prequel, Carlito’s Way: Rise to Power, inspired by the first book, was released on video in 2005.

How Pacino Was Introduced To Carlito

carlito's way

Edwin Torres introduced Al Pacino to the Carlito Brigante character in a New York City gym in 1973, where the actor was training for his movie Serpico. When the books were finished, Pacino read and liked them. Before a movie could get off the ground, producer Elliott Kastner brought a $6 million lawsuit against Pacino. He claimed the actor had agreed to star in his version of Carlito’s Way.

The suit was eventually dropped, and Al Pacino presented the idea to producer Martin Bregman. While the producer disliked the script draft, he contacted screenwriter David Koepp and asked him to write the screenplay for Carlito’s Way. Bregman and Koepp worked for two years to develop the story, which eventually made it to theaters as Carlito’s Way.