Al Pacino: five best momentsA look back at the career of the 75-year-old star of new comedy Danny Collins
Friday 29 May 2015 11.42 BST
While his latter career choices have suggested someone with a lot of residual anger and some hefty debts to pay off, there was a long time when Al Pacino was one of the most respected actors in the business.
This week sees a slight return to form for the Oscar-winner, with the release of amiable comedy Danny Collins, in which he plays an ageing rocker trying to reconnect with his family. It’s Pacino’s best for years, and to make the most of our renewed respect for him, here are five of his greatest career highs:
Watching a 31-year-old Pacino give such a confident performance in only his third film is a rather intimidating lesson for any actor still finding his or her feet. As Michael Corleone, Pacino found his footing impressively fast, and this scene, arguably the best of the entire trilogy, sees him transform into the gangster who will haunt him throughout the rest of the saga.
Dog Day Afternoon
His role in The Godfather gave his career an expected boost, but rather than sticking with the mob genre, Pacino branched out. After checking out life on the right side of the law in Serpico, he headed back to a life (or rather, a day) of crime in Sidney Lumet’s Oscar-winning drama. He played a desperate man who attempts to rob a bank to pay for his boyfriend’s sex-change operation – which was a daring storyline back in 1975. This scene shows him losing his cool and then winning over the crowd gathered outside the bank in the same breath.
Glengarry Glen Ross
While Pacino might have won the best actor Oscar in 1992 for his role in the saccharine mess that was Scent of a Woman, his other nominated performance from that year was more worthy of an award. In this adaptation of David Mamet’s swear-heavy office-based play, Pacino was arguably the standout member of an impeccable cast – and this monologue shows why.
There was a great deal of hype about the prospect of Pacino starring alongside Robert De Niro in a second film – especially given that their first was The Godfather Part II, in which they never actually share a scene. Heat also kept them apart for most of the duration, but brought them together for this tense restaurant meeting which, as well as the novelty of having them onscreen together, bristles with tension. Sadly, the pair later expanded on this dynamic in the incompetent thriller Righteous Kill, an entire film in which they’re together, but which makes you wish they’d never even met.
Pacino’s later performances became the stuff of parody, due to his frequent inability to control the VOLUME of his VOICE. But in 2002, he teamed with a pre-Batman Christopher Nolan for a thriller that gave him his best role in years. As a tortured cop struggling with guilt and a lack of sleep, Pacino dialled it down, and this final, spoiler-heavy scene provides a devastating yet emotionally satisfying end to his character’s journey.