5 Timeless Al Pacino Performances!

Every dog has his day–or nearly 60 years of acting in some of the most critically and fan acclaimed movies of all time! Here are 5 timeless Al Pacino performances, based on awards, pop culture references and online fan adoration!

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Among his most unforgettable roles on the big screen, five characters portrayed by the New York city-born actor have stood the test of time! The amount of versatility and range in these five performances have earned Pacino an academy award and provided a slew of iconic one-liners, imitated over the decades by fans of the legendary actor. Let’s take a closer look at the five timeless roles that turned Al Pacino into one of Hollywood’s most renowned actors.

The Godfather

It’s 1973 and Al Pacino’s star-making performance as Michael Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, has earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor In a Supporting Role! This career-defining role and respective award win for the then 33-year-old actor has since made a lasting impact on fans and their overall love for the iconic movie.

In 2022, The Godfather celebrated its 50th anniversary, by coming to select theaters and receiving a 4K Ultra HD release!

And with such a special celebration for one of the most beloved films ever made, a historic reunion took place at the 94th Academy Awards with director Francis Ford Coppola, Robert De Niro and of course, Al Pacino to present the special celebration ceremony!

The Godfather is available to stream on Hulu.


Next up in his iconic list of memorable characters, is the portrayal of the real-life, retired New York City Police Department detective Frank Serpico. Pacino truly brought Serpico’s character to life on the big screen and represented the values upheld by his real-life counterpart, known for whistleblowing on police corruption in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Hot off the heels of playing Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Pacino left his criminal persona in the rearview mirror, for his rendition of the real-life cop who stood up to police corruption, which is closely adapted from Peter Maas’s 1973 book.

Pacino’s role as Serpico earned him his second consecutive Oscar Nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the 1974 Academy Awards!

Serpico is is available to stream on Paramount Plus.

Dog Day Afternoon

Sidney Lumet’s 1975 box office hit Dog Day Afternoon, features yet another hallmark performance and portrayal of a real-life figure from our pal, Al, who was once again nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the 1976 Academy Awards!

Based on the real-life events surrounding an attempted, armed robbery in 1972 at a Chase Manhattan bank in Brooklyn, New York, John Wojtowicz and his two accomplices, held seven bank employees hostage for 14 hours, and demanded $250,000 and a plane to escape! If this story hasn’t caught your attention by now, Wojtowicz’s motivation for the robbery stemmed from his desire to pay for his partner, Liz Eden’s gender affirmation surgery!

Inspired by Wojtowicz and his grand robbery, Pacino plays Sonny, a bixesaul man married to both a cisgender woman, Angie, as well as a transgender woman, Liz. Though he’s committed to both women, Sonny feels committed to help Liz transition, as she suffers from gender dysphoria and depression.

The LGBTQ+ aspect of the film reflects upon its sensitive treatment of gay and transgender rights, during a time when homophobia and transphobia ran rampant throughout the United States.

Dog Day Afternoon is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.


If you thought Al’s role as Michael Corelone solidified his cinematic kingpin persona, wait until you see his masterful performance in Brian De Palma’s 1983 classic Scarface! Portraying a determined Cuban immigrant named Tony Montana, Pacino speaks with a heavy Cuban accent and uses his eyes and facial expressions to evoke fear and hostility towards his enemies!

Though nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Performance In a Motion Picture, Pacino’s role as the Miami drug kingpin hadn’t helped with winning over critics or audiences, as both objected to the film’s excessive violence, dramatic situations and rapid fire usage of the F word (used about 200 times).

Grossing $66 million worldwide and relying on word of mouth, the film hadn’t initially been a breakout success, until it came out on VHS and premiered on cable TV.

A new audience in the vein of the hip hop genre of music, rediscovered Scarface and began resonating with its message of turning nothing into something! With its newfound “cult status” spreading throughout American pop culture, the archetypal gangster persona began resonating with urban audiences born into the 1970s and 1980s!

Once popularized, the gangster film became a major source of inspiration for television, movies and most notably the music industry, as bands like Blink-182 named themselves after the amount of times Al Pacino said “fuck,” as well as legendary rapper Future’s song, titled “Tony Montana,” named after Pacino’s character!

Scarface is available to stream on both Hulu and Netflix.

Scent of a Woman

Directed by Martin Brest, Al Pacino’s outstanding performance in 1993’s Scent of a Woman as the blind Lt. Col. Frank Slade, earned him his first and only Oscar win for Best Actor in a Leading Role! By now, it seems like our old pal Al would have snagged a number of Oscars awards for his previous film performances, given his acting chops refining with every film role after The Godfather!

Nevertheless, Scent of a Woman has and continues to make waves in pop culture and online with fans!

Scent of a Woman is available to rent on Amazon Prime Video.

About the Author

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Gregory Karp

Gregory S. Karp Jr. is a third-year multimedia journalism student at Cal Poly Pomona, with a passion for writing news, sports and culture articles.