Did Scarface make our top ten films from the Hollywood icon?
10 People I Know (2002)
In recent years Pacino’s increasingly haggered features and nicotine-curdled growl have found a welcome home playing washed-up old timers, a role never bettered than the heartbreaking case of pill-addled ageing publicist Eli Wurman. Did Al Pacino sell out? Click here
9 …And Justice For All (1979)
The final role of his ’70s heyday, this lesser-known work sees Pacino play a forthright young lawyer intent on his ideals. The infamous closing scene, where Pacino’s Arthur Kirkland yells ‘You’re out of order! This whole court’s out of order!’ at a judge repeatedly, was done in a single take.
8 The Panic in Needle Park (1971)
The lead role in Pacino’s second movie – and the one that earned him the role of Michael Corleone a year later – was meant to go to The Doors’ lead singer Jim Morrison. Pacino delivers a frightening embodiment of a drug addict in a co-dependant relationship.
7 Scent of a Woman (1992)
Despite countless nominations, it took the broad appeal of Scent of a Woman to earn Pacino his one and only Oscar. His role as an embittered, blind veteran will be remembered for the adhoc ‘hoo-ha!’ catchphrase he created on set.
6 Serpico (1973)
Reliving 12 years in the life of Frank Serpico, a cop who went against the grain by exposing widespread corruption in the New York Police Department, Pacino played the role he does best; the outsider.
5 Heat (1995)
The coffee shop showdown with rival Robert De Niro is already the stuff off legend, the pair’s first scene on screen together an acting master class (only repeated in 2008’s underwhelming Righteous Kill). But even without those precious few minutes of celluloid, Michael Mann’s Heat remains a monumental achievement. Like an ageing Serpico, Pacino is on vintage form as a work-obsessed cop playing a game of cat and mouse with De Niro’s crook.
4 Carlito’s Way (1993)
No, Scarface didn’t make this list; despite its iconic stature in popular culture Pacino’s unhinged, histrionic performance doesn’t rank among his best (that ‘Cuban’ accent), and the overblown ’80s epic lowered the tone for a legacy of bad cinema to follow in its wake. But Pacino’s other film with Brian de Palma was a classic. The flipside of everything its predecessor stood for, the actor dials it down as a mob boss fresh from jail determined to go straight, while de Palma (once dubbed by Martin Amis as ‘the movie brute’) goes back to his Hitchcock textbook to produce subtlety stunning action set pieces at entire odds with Tony Montana’s bloody all-guns-blazing approach.
3 Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Adapted from a 1984 play of the same name, it was the small tight cast and sparse use of locations which brought out career-defining performances from Jack Lemmon, Eric Baldwin, Kevin Spacey and Pacino. The plot takes place over just two days, set almost entirely in an office after hours. Pacino inhabits the skin of Ricky Roma, a ballsy, smooth-talking real estate salesman riding a wave of corporate expectation and personal greed. A bitter portrait of ageing, capitalism and human nature.
2 The Godfather Part II (1974)
The first Godfather may be a superior picture, but it was Marlon Brando’s film. Despite director Francis Ford Coppola’s introduction of Robert De Niro’s dual plotline, the second film was all Pacino. In a handful of long, set-pieces the actor takes us into the heartless psychology of Michael Corleone, a ruthless mob boss in the grip of a soul-destroying lust for power. The scene where Corleone stands at the window, waiting to hear the gunshot of his brother Fredo’s murder, is among one of the most haunting performances in Hollywood.
1 Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Despite holding a deep love for Shakespeare, Pacino has never played a more tragic role than that in Dog Day Afternoon. Based on the true story of a botched 1972 New York bank robbery, Pacino delivers a staggeringly warm and fragile portrayal of Sonny Wortzik, an effeminate outcast hopelessly trying to escape his circumstances with an incompetent, escapist stab at crime. When the heist goes wrong and he is forced to take hostages, Wortzik’s biography slowly unravels on real time television. The second picture he made with Sidney Lumet, best known for classics 12 Angry Men (1957) and Network (1976), it also pairs Pacino with John Cazale – Fredo from The Godfather trilogy.