G-S-T Quick 5 – Favorite Al Pacino Roles

Hooah“…that’s right one gutteral sound to define one of the most amazing and talented actors in all of film. Last Tuesday the legendary Al Pacino came to Dallas…and I missed him. Yeah I was bummed to the enth degree and it’s taken me a whole week to get over. So to help my grieving I’ve thought long and hard about what films that I love and are made all the more amazing becasue it stars Al doing what he does best.

I have been a fan of Al since being raised on films like The Godfather and HEAT, you know, the essentials. But while he has most certainly stumbled and taken roles that are less than flattering to say the least, I will put up one simple defense…he’s Al. What more does he really have to prove?? So Al may have a few more stinkers in his resume than he or his fans would like to acknowledge, but I think he’s still a fantastic actor and one who’s second career wind is right around the corner.

Recently you can find him doing Shakespeare in the park, which is a very humbling hobby, and you won’t find many other iconic actors doing that I can assure you. That’s just another shining example of how awesome he really is. So he’s Al and his work has defined a generation (even if I think Scarface is one of the most overrated films of all time) he’s got quite a catalog and there are a slew of stellar films to look back on. Those are the ones you watch over and over, share with our kids and tell them, “this is a guy you need to watch“. So in fond admiration I share with you the roles where Pacino does nothing but shine…and growl.

I’ll say right out that these entries below are ones that are just outside the well known (and expected) Pacino films. So here I present to you G-S-T’s Favorite Al Pacino Roles:


The Devil’s Advocate – Who ever thought the Devil could be cool?. Sure we’ve seen some great Lucifer roles before but Pacino made being bad so damned appealing. Combining charm and allure he pulls you in but it’s just a facade. When Al gets angry, all hell literally breaks looks. Jaw dropping and mesmerizing, just a role of a lifetime.


Any Given Sunday – Playing a man who refuses to let go of the past is one I think suits Al best of all. Perhaps this was a precursor to his late career slump. It just shows you that even when you’re down and out, there’s still a lot of fight left in an old dog. Want proof? Then check out this monologue where Al gives a pep talk to his team. Rousing to say the very least and will forever be one of my favorite monologues of all time.


Carlito’s Way – I’ll say it til the day I die: I hate Scarface. Carlito’s Way is a much better moviall around; better story, better acting, better character and yes, a better accent. Carlito just wants to stay straight. Getting out of jail was a sobering experince but if getting back to your bad habits is the only way to help a true friend, then I’d want Carlito Brigante as a friend of mine. But friendship is a fine line with Carlito and one I can safely say I’d never want to cross.


Glengarry Glen Ross – I think that if Al ever gave me a sales pitch then I’d buy anything he was trying to peddle. Sales is a tough business and while the film shows just how tough it can be, Al puts the icing on a very very tart cake. In the nicest way possible he is nearly unscrupulous in his attempts to get a sale to stick. But just don’t try to get in the way of claiming what’s his. The part where he lays into a young Kevin Spacey is priceless…”Oh what a big man you are! Let me buy you a pack of gum and show you how to chew it.”


Dick Tracy Disappearing completely behind makeup but there’s nothing on earth can hide that intensity. Hunched over, matted down hair and a bulbous nose, it is still Al all the live long day. Adding a bit of humor he plays the line between soft and hard edged very well. But it wouldn’t be a Pacino role unles he lost his temper and Big Boy Caprice’s frustration with Dick Tracy ranks up there with the best of them.


So while I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing Al in person Olive at Movie News First did and said he was unbelievable in the Merchant of Venice. Check out her write up here. Also a fellow Al fan and Italian, Peter at Magic Lantern film posted his Top 5 Al roles. Check it out too if you can. That’s what I’ve got, what Pacino films would make your list??


  1. I don’t think I’ve watched enough Pacino movies to make my own list, but if I have to name 3 of my faves, it’ll be: HEAT, The Insider, Scent of a Woman. He was good in Devil’s Advocate (the devil is always so charming) but can’t say that role was my fave. I’ve got to check out Glenross one of these days, people seem to love it so much.

    • I think you’ll like GG and as much as people build up the Alec Baldwin it doesn’t disappoint…though I’m partial to Pacino, hence it’s inclusion on the post:P

  2. those above are pretty good for some Al shouting, but off the top of my head one of my favourite pacino performances is in The Insider, still Michael Mann’s best film.

    • WOW, for the first time I wholeheartedly agree with you McG 😀 The Insider is a fantastic film that deserves more love. It’s also one of my fave performances of Crowe.

    • It’s taken me a couple viewings but I like the Insider but I think your right about it being Mann’s best film (though I still like Collateral).

  3. 5. Scent of a Woman
    4. Serpico
    3. Dog Day Afternoon
    2. The Godfather II
    1. The Godfather I

    • Interesting as you went for the more reserved Pacino roles Dan. Serpico was the first one where Al didn’t go for the throat and it surprised me with the very humble role. I liked it in its simplicity but I still prefer the feral Al films:P