My Favorite Scores: Carlito’s Way

Carlito's Way

Last week, I blogged on the Rocky Original Motion Picture Score. That post got me thinking about how the most iconic scenes from my favorite movies are bolstered by their musical scores. Over the next few months, I’ll share a few thoughts on some of my favorite scores. First up: Carlito’s Way.

Carlito’s Way is a 1993 crime drama directed by Brian DePalma and starting Al Pacino. The three sentence summary: Carlito Brigante is an incarcerated drug dealer just freed on a technicality. Vowing to go straight, Carlito finds himself in situations where his sense of honor and loyalty pull him into law-breaking activities. Those decisions play out with dire consequences – with him ultimately losing his life, though not before he can get Gail, and his unborn child, off to safety.

I have three favorite scenes from Carlito’s Way:

  1. The ‘Where’s my cheesecake?’ scene (which is great, until the syrupy “You Are So Beautiful” is introduced)
  2. The ‘Big Time’ scene (famous for introducing the phrase ‘Here come the pain’)
  3. The rooftop scene [below], where Carlito tracks down Gail, his old flame. It’s eerily reminiscent of the rooftop stalking scene in The Godfather II; however, where DeNiro’s actions are nefarious in nature, Pacino is… well, the following excerpt [from explains it better that I can:

Spying on her ballet class from an adjacent rooftop—a scene that visually echoes Rear Window and Body Double, but trades menace for helpless romantic longing—Carlito is moonstruck. Keeping the rain off his head with a trash can lid like a knight using his shield as an umbrella, he just watches her dance; De Palma zooms closer to him and closer to her, literally removing the distance between Carlito’s memory of Gail and Gail herself.

Patrick Doyle, the score’s composer, does a bang up job with Carlito & Gail (the name of the piece in the scene). Check it out below.

Patrick Doyle – Carlito & Gail

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