House Of Gucci: Al Pacino’s Best Italian Roles
Alfredo James Pacino may have been born in East Harlem New York, but he is the son of two Italian-American parents. The actor went on to play the role of many characters of the same heritage, sometimes even winning a cavalcade of awards in the process.
The future will tell if this award-winning success applies to his role as Aldo Gucci in Gucci House, but there’s no better time to look back on some of his other Italian roles, some of which are also based on real characters.
Tony D’Amato: Any Sunday (1999)
Oliver Stone’s Any Sunday was a soccer film starring Dennis Quaid, Cameron Diaz, LL Cool J, James Woods, Charlton Heston and Elizabeth Berkley. He follows the ups and downs of being a former champion with the Miami Sharks. Then when a potential star enters the mix, she turns out to be a mix of success and ego.
Pacino played head coach Anthony “Tony” D’Amato. A seasoned professional in the game, he has paid the price for success when it comes to his family life. His wife and children are no longer part of his life and every moment he is not working he is sleeping. He’s a good main character, but the most interesting arc in Any Sunday is Jamie Foxx’s Willie Beamen “Steamin”.
Alphonse “Big Boy” Caprice: Dick Tracy (1990)
This big-budget comic book adaptation was also considered by many to be one of Al Pacino’s best comedies. While Pacino has a major villainous role, the film is actor / director / producer Warren Beatty’s.
The actor plays Alphonse “Big Boy” Caprice, the unnamed town crime boss from the film. Like many of the film’s other villainous characters, Caprice wears awesome (but distinctly uncomfortable looking) makeup. It makes it fun to spot big names like James Caan, William Forsythe, and Paul Sorvino.
Aldo Gucci: Maison Gucci (2021)
by Ridley Scott Gucci House, based on the book of the same name by Sara Gay Forden, is a heavily dramatized look at the Gucci empire. More precisely, the murder of Maurizio Gucci (Adam Driver), orchestrated by Patrizia Reggiani (Lady Gaga).
Pacino plays Aldo Gucci, father of Paolo (Jared Leto) and uncle of Maurizio. Aldo was basically the reason Maurizio rose as high as he did in Gucci. The book and film make it clear that Aldo had affection for his nephew, which makes the treatment he ultimately received in return all the more confusing.
Carlito “Charlie” Brigante: The Way of Carlito (1993)
One of Al Pacino’s best 90s movies, Brian De Palma’s Carlito‘to balance, is a Pacino showcase through and through. While strangers could be forgiven for looking at the poster and thinking it is a copy of Scarface, Carlito Brigante and Tony Montana couldn’t be more different.
Brigante is a man firmly positioned in criminal life. What he really wants is an ounce of stability and a life with Gail (Penelope Ann Miller), as Montana has embraced instability and mistook constant pleasures for success. The protagonist of Carlito’s Way looks more like an honest version of Michael Corleone, who once cried out to be constantly brought back into criminal life. However, unlike the firmly planted Corleone, Brigante had in fact summer out and rightfully been pulled more and more by David Kleinfeld (Sean Penn) and Benny Blanco (John Leguizamo).
Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggiero: Donnie Brasco (1997)
This hugely underrated Pacino film was the story of Joseph Pistone (Johnny Depp), an undercover FBI agent who infiltrated a prominent criminal family. To do this, he inhabits the role of jewelry thief Donnie Brasco. In no time, he befriends one of the family’s hitmen and learns how difficult it can be to befriend someone who is known to fall.
Pacino plays the hitman, Lefty Ruggiero. The actor’s palpable chemistry with Depp helps ensure the movie clicks at an infallible rate. It also makes the inevitable conclusion even more devastating. While some crowd-pleasing movies and series can prove to be overwhelming, Donnie Brasco is very simple and digestible even for those who find the subgenre uninteresting.
Frank Serpico: Serpico (1973)
It’s not a character detail that the film talks about a lot, but Frank Serpico was born to Italian immigrants. Serpico was a New York City Police Department detective whose fellow officers attempted to lure him into a world of theft and corruption. Instead, Serpico started a long-standing battle against such actions that risked not only his career, but his life.
Pacino is downright intense in Serpico, and his powerful performance has been parodied on shows like It’s always nice in Philadelphia. Without Tony Montana and a few other monumental roles, Serpico would be the defining role for Pacino’s career.
Sonny Wortzik: Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Bank robber John Wojtowicz was born to a Polish father and a mother of Italian descent. Dog day afternoon shows one of the worst heists in movie history, and the sympathy of Pacino’s Sonny Wortzik makes audiences want it to turn out better.
Wortzik’s motives (like Wojtowicz) are based on love, not greed, and Dog day afternoon shows how far he will go for this love. The film is one of the best showcases in the Pacino range. There’s the soft-spoken variation found in many of his other previous films as well as the bombast of Tony Montana as he stands outside the bank shouting “Attica! Attica!”
Michael Corleone: The Godfather (1972) & The Godfather II (1974)
Pacino has played the iconic role of Michael Corleone in three films, but there are really two worth noting. As a character, it’s hard to say which movie features a more interesting version of Michael Corleone. In The Godfather he is a man with a soft voice who does not want to follow in his father’s footsteps. Not as a disrespect for Don Corleone, but rather as a general preference for the American lifestyle. At the end of the film, he put himself in his father’s shoes, but it is in the sequel that he crosses a very specific line.
In The Godfather II, Michael has Fredo killed. It’s a huge moment in movie history for a good reason: it’s absolutely devastating. Impeccably shot, the murder is capped with a beautiful image of Michael behind a picture window, his head solemnly bowed.
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