From the cold, ruthless Mafia boss in The Godfather trilogy to the blind armyman in Scent Of A Woman, Al Pacino has done justice to so many different characters in his five decades in cinema.
His popularity remains intact despite a few ups and downs. Now 77, Pacino continues to display his tremendous prowess as a method actor who isn’t afraid to experiment with roles.
Here are some Pacino movies, a little different from the regular ones, which are worth a revisit.
Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Cast: Al Pacino, John Cazale, James Broderick, Charles Durning
Director: Sidney Lumet
A bank robbery goes awry as three of the robbers time it all wrong and face the consequences. One escapes and other two get stranded inside and hold the people in there as hostage.
A clever police chief and the main robber Sonny (Pacino) keep talking of a solution and some of the demands of the robbers, including pizzas for those trapped inside, are met. They demand a helicopter to transport them away from the crime scene to let go of the hostages but are instead given a limousine to make their getaway.
The film won many awards and Pacino’s brilliant turn as a confused bank robber is brilliant.
And Justice for All
Cast: Al Pacino, Jack Warden, John Forsythe, Lee Stratsberg
Director: Norman Jewison
A lawyer and a judge lock horns in a courtroom drama which heats up when the latter is accused of assaulting and raping a minor girl and the former has to defend him.
The lawyer, Arthur Kirkland (Pacino) thinks by defending Judge Fleming who hates him may actually prove to be to his advantage. His partner becomes unstable after many of those acquittals turn to crime again. Kirkland is also friends with an eccentric judge who takes him on a scary helicopter ride.
Arthur tries hard to save Fleming but a causal remark by the latter leads him to frustration and finally condemnation. Pacino was nominated for Best Actor for this film.
Carilto’s Way (1993)
Cast: Al Pacino, Sean Penn, Penelope Ann Miller, Luis Guzman, John Leguizamo, Viggo Mortensen
Director: Brian De Palma
A criminal, Carlito Brigante (Pacino), sentenced to 30 years in prison, gets off in five on technicality used by his lawyer friend Dave Kleinfield (Penn). But Carlito’s attempts to go clean ends up in smoke as he gets trapped in a bungled drug deal.
He gets sucked back into the world of crime and his attempts to just save enough to retire in the Caribbean faces many hurdles. He rekindles his love for his girlfriend Gail but then falls in love with an another.
Carlito then gets mixed up with more mobsters and Kleinfield, now a drug addict, rats on him. He manages to escape but crime never pays in the end.
Cast: Gene Hackman, Al Pacino, Eileen Brennan
Director: Jerry Schatzberg
Two drifters, Max (Hackman) and Lionel or Lion (Pacino) find each other on a California road and decide to hit together and start a car wash business. Max is an ex-convict with a fiery temper and Lion an ex-sailor with childlike innocence.
Max is on his way to a bank where he has sent all his money while Lion is seeking his ex-wife and son whom he never met. Their antics land them in prison for a month and they decide to part ways.
But Lion is almost raped by a criminal and is traumatised by the incident. Then Max decides not to abandon him and help him out instead. But a further shock admission from Lion’s ex-wife lands Lion in a mental hospital. The film is critically acclaimed and both Hackman and Pacino have acted splendidly.
The Panic in Needle Park (1971)
Cast: Al Pacino, Kitty Winn, Paul Sorvino, Alan Vint, Raul Julia
Director: Jerry Schatzberg
A young woman Helen (Winn) gets entangled with a small-time drug dealer with disastrous effects. Sherman Park in New York City is called Needle Park because it is a hangout for drug addicts and sellers. A panic situation occurs when there are no drugs available.
Bobby is caring at first towards Helen and their relationship grows. But things fall apart when Bobby goes for higher stakes and tries and fails at burglary. Helen is also drawn into the world of drugs. She loses her job and is forced to become a prostitute.
The bittersweet romance has many pitfalls. Ultimately in the world of drugs, there is no way out sometimes. This is Pacino’s second film and he excels.
#The views expressed in this column are the authors.