The unprecedented on-screen gangster, Al Pacino, has cemented a cinematic legacy in a career spanning nearly five decades. As the veteran actor turns 76 today, we pay a tribute on his birthday by remembering his top seven iconic performances.
'The Godfather - Part II' (1974)Al Pacino in 'The Godfather - Part II'. Pic/YouTube
Al Pacino’s iconic performance as Michael Corleone in 'The Godfather - Part II' earned him an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination for Best actor, while winning the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role. Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a screenplay co-written with Mario Puzo, the film is both sequel and prequel to ‘The Godfather’. It presents parallel dramas: one narrates the story of Michael Corleone, the new don of the Corleone family, protecting the family business in the aftermath of an attempt on his life; the prequel traces the journey of his father, a young Vito Corleone, played by Robert De Niro, from his Sicilian childhood to the founding of his family enterprise in New York. The film garnered rave reviews from critics, with some deeming it superior to the 1972 original.
Al Pacino in a still from 'Scarface'. Pic/YouTube
Every ‘Scarface’ fan is sure to have attempted a Tony Montana impression of ‘say hello to my little friend’. Al Pacino delivered a compelling performance as the Cuban immigrant Tony Montana, who arrives in 1980s Miami with nothing, and rises to become a powerful drug kingpin. His outrageous performance as Tony Montana not only earned him a Golden Globe nomination, but also made the character a pop culture legend and the movie a classic within the gangster film genre.
'Scent of a Woman' (1992)
Al Pacino with Gabrielle Anwar in a still from the famous tango scene in 'Scent of a Woman'. Pic/YouTube
This film narrates the story of a student, Chris O'Donnell, who takes a job as an assistant to a blind retired Lieutenant Colonel, Frank Slade, played by Al Pacino. The monologue delivered by Pacino about honour is sure to leave you moved. Pacino’s riveting performance not only earned him a Golden Globe for Best Actor, but also the Oscar for Best Actor, an award which was long overdue.
Al Pacino in ‘Serpico’. Pic/YouTube
Surviving as an honest cop in a corrupt system is not easy. Al Pacino plays Frank Serpico, a New York Police Department officer, who decides to expose corruption within the police force. Directed by Sidney Lumet, this crime drama film is an adaptation of Peter Maas's biography of NYPD officer Frank Serpico. The film received critical and commercial success, while bagging yet another Golden Globe award for Al Pacino, while earning him Oscar and BAFTA nominations for Best Actor.
'Dog Day Afternoon' (1975)
Al Pacino in a still from the bank-robbing scene in 'Dog Day Afternoon'. Pic/YouTube
Having worked with Sidney Lumet and John Cazale earlier, Al Pacino partnered with both for this heist thriller, which is peppered with sharp satire and seething socio-political tension. Based on the true story of bank robber John Wojtowicz, Pacino gives us an electrifying performance as the psychotic Sonny Wortzik. Pacino received an Oscar and Golden Globe nomination, while winning the BAFTA for Best Actor.
'Donnie Brasco' (1997)Johnny Depp and Al Pacino in 'Donnie Brasco'. Pic/YouTube
Al Pacino plays an aging hit-man, Lefty Ruggiero, who befriends an FBI undercover agent under the alias Donnie Brasco, essayed by Johnny Depp. This film is based on a true story of Agent Joseph D. Pistone, who infiltrated the Bonanno crime family in New York City during the 1970s.
'Devil's Advocate' (1997)
Al Pacino in 'Devil's Advocate'. Pic/YouTube
Al Pacino’s character in this mystery thriller is named after the author of ‘Paradise Lost’, John Milton. The film has a few references to Milton's epic, such as the famous quote "Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven". Also starring Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron, 'Devil's Advocate' received praise for its character exploration and supernatural thrills.