AL PACINO: Man of the Hour
“Say Hello To My little Friend!”
If you don’t know that line you probably don't know who Tony Montana was nor you have not seen Al Pacino at his wicked- best. And I would probably say that you missed one of the best "bleep" movie of all “bleep’ time!
Those were the words that cocaine- powered Tony Montana in the movie Scarface hurled to his enemies behind the door before unleashing the M- 203 grenade launcher at them in one of the highlights of the brutal and savage film by Brian de Palma and script written by Oliver Stone in the early 80’s.
Last night, his colleagues at the American Film Institute (AFI) and his legions of fans have once again said hello to this diminutive man by Hollywood standards but a giant one in stature both in life and on the screen by presenting him the 35th AFI Life Achievement Award reserved only for the silver screen’s elite. The televised show was actually held at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles days earlier.
I’ve watched the show on USA Network amused, enlightened and in awe of the actor as his friends and colleagues recalled their various encounters and moments with one of Hollywood’s foremost icon who sat and watch from his seat applauding and sometimes teary- eyed and exclaimed in the end that he “needs a character” in reference to his having been at a loss for words for the first time in his life.
Al Pacino is one lucky guy indeed in the dog-eat-dog world of show business having figured and acted prominently in many of the most thought- provoking and influential films of all time.
He is one actor who put his life into every character that he plays down to the minute details that gained him the respect of his peers and fans alike. His talent, versatility, hard work and dedication that he put in every role make him a very good role model for new actors learning their chops.
The list of his great movies is quite long but here’s a few that will surely find their way into any movie fanatic’s list of must- haves--The Godfather Trilogy, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Carlito’s Way and of course, Scent of A Woman where he finally won an Oscar for Best Actor in 1992 after years of being snubbed by the Academy by playing the role of the blind Lt. Colonel Frank Slade and in the process danced with the lithe and beautiful Gabrielle Anwar.
The power and influence of a man as they say can be measured by the respect that his peers have for and had given him. If so, what I witnessed last night as they gave an endless parade of tributes and accolades to the Man of the Hour was a fitting witness to his immense talent and pull among Hollywood’s best and brightest stars.
The show opened with Robin Williams acknowledging the night’s Honoree’s looming presence in the crowd and said that “ you put Robert de Niro in a dryer and you got Al Pacino” and proceeded to raise a glass of wine for him.
Sir Sean Connery lamented that they have “known each other for 30 years and never worked together which was my loss.” He added that “ I was in that chair last year and I know how it feels--there’s nowhere to hide!” that elicited laughter from the audience.
Then they showed clips from Serpico showing him with a beard, his character's unorthodox ways and such that in those days was a big no- no for a normal clean- shaven policeman and Dog Day Afternoon where he played the role of Sonny Wortzik wherein he was shown ranting outside a bank he’s trying to rob so that his “gay” lover can have a sex- change operation, a controversial role which was a major risk at that time for any actor who value his money and star power.
On a side note, a thought occurred to me that, that kind of standoff which lasted 13 hours while holding 11 people hostage will never happen in the Philippines for the moment he steps out of the bank, he will be dead meat from some trigger- happy policemen who were only too willing to get the job done and end the situation asap and go home. Ha-ha.
“Are you sober, could you read the script again?” showed how persistence can pay off and in this case for Frank Pierson (the scriptwriter won an Oscar for the movie) by getting a reluctant but talented actor to star in the sensitive film.
It was also said that Al Pacino turned down the script seven times before finally agreeing to do the film and once again defied the norm and helped change our outlook of what a film should be.
Jamie Foxx who starred with Al in Any Given Sunday thanked him, “ for allowing a young African- American for getting this thing on” and proceeded to tell about his experiences with the man--“no ego, played chess together in his trailer” wherein addressing Al and confessing, “ I let you win because I need to hear more stories…”
He went on with his story wherein in one of his scenes with the esteemed actor, “ I tasted you, I noticed wetness flying on my face! What do you call that mouth moisture? I said to myself, this is the greatest actor in the world but I need a squeegee!” that brought the house down.
Jamie then addressed the crowd as he mimicked Al Pacino, “Your Juiciness, I got Al Pacino almost in my mouth…I took the juice, I took the DNA inside of me and the next thing you know I won an Oscar!”
Oliver Stone for his part shared three things about the lessons and influence of Scarface: “That every dog has his day” and that “if you can swallow the poison and live, everyday above ground is a good day” and finally, “no matter how many scripts I write, I think 'fuck you' and 'say hello to my little friend' as my contribution to the culture.”
And added that with Pacino's Tony Montana, you can finally say “goodnight to the bad guy, you’ll never see a guy this bad again.”
Scent of a Woman co- star Chris O’ Donnell shared some insights of Mr. Pacino’s funny side. He was surprised one day that he got a letter from him stating, “I couldn’t tell what you’re doing because I sort of never saw you but I heard you’re outstanding! ” Of course we all know that he played a blind military man in the movie.
Two lovely ladies who I haven’t seen on film in a long time also paid their respect to the Man--
Gabrielle Anwar who as a teenager danced the sensual tango with Mr. Pacino on the way to the latter's only Academy Award joked that “dancing with Al Pacino is something I haven’t recovered yet” which she quickly added the reference to her big toe to the laughter of the crowd. She still looks lovely if you ask me.
Troubled actress Winona Ryder, another lovely lady and starred with him in his directorial debut in Looking for Richard made a rare appearance and admitted that he “ wooed me and he won me and he utterly seduced me…Not only as Lady Anne to his Richard…Still completely and utterly seduced. “
And looking straight into Mr. Pacino’s large dark eyes uttered seductively, “And I would give my kingdom, my kingdom to be wooed by you again.”
(To Be Continued Tomorrow)
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
AL PACINO: Man of the Hour