The voice. The eyes. The swagger. Pacino. Only a few get to be known by their surname alone. With a cv that features some of most durable characters in our such elevated status, it’s easy to forget just how good he is. Some might mock his "hoo-haa" shouty tendencies, list his various turkeys or trivialize his turns as quote-friendly student icons like Scarface’s Tony Montana and The Devil’s Advocate’s John Milton. But few can question the ever-present intensity that makes it hard to take your eyes off.
Not just a pivotal moment in one of the greatest films ever made, but a pivotal scene in his own career. This is the moment when Michael Corleone changes from quiet and thoughtful war hero to uncompromising mob boss in the making, and also the moment the studio realised it was worth sticking with Pacino having been far from convinced. A wise move.
Pacino looks physically different in this film to any other in his career. The posture, the stiff chin, the gaze – he became Tony and doesn’t leave him for a moment.
Pacino’s Lefty is a heartbreaking character perfectly played as both pitiful and human. Over the hill, exploited, living off scraps at an age he might be drawing a pension, and yet still scrabbling to survive and show the world he's 'somebody'.
Beyone the much-hyped Pacino v De Niro diner scene, Al puts in a sterling effort to add freshness to the never-off-duty-cop-with-marriage-difficulties cliché.
Glengarry Glen Ross
Probably David Mamet’s best adaptation from stage to screen is successful largely thanks to the sizzling interplay between the stellar cast of desperate salesman of which Pacino’s top-earning Ricky, prepared to do anything to get a sale, stands out.
Pacino was accused of hamming it up in this satisfyingly OTT thriller, but when you're playing the devil, isn't that kind of the point?
It's easy to dismiss this scene as an early example of Pacino overdoing it but in the context of Frank Serpico's frustration as an outsider in a department full of bent cops, it's a perfectly played outpouring of pent up emotion.
What Pacino manages to convey in this turn as ex-con at a crossroads Carlito Brigante is his constant balance of bravado and insecurity, the need to show front with the need to escape. It carries the film and helps communicate the creeping sense of foreboding that this man will never escape his fate.
Dog Day Afternoon
Unlike any film he’s done before or since, Pacino nails the sense of a man in over his head and making it up as he goes along.
Any Given Sunday
Whether you believe the bouffant-haired Pacino as an NFL coach is one thing, or even believe that there's enough time for a speech this long, but it's hard to deny Pacino has a way with monologues and can do more with a pause than many can do with a paragraph.