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Tonight We Honor A Legend

The American Cinematheque Awards

October 21, 2005


This annual award honors "an extraordinary artist in the entertainment industry who is fully engaged in his or her work and is committed to making a significant contribution to the art of the motion picture".

IN THE LITTLE-SEEN 2001 film "Chinese Coffee," Al Pacino plays a writer in the throes of a midlife crisis. His friend, played by Jerry Orbach, suggests trying the movie business. "Hollywood?" Pacino says incredulously. "You can't be old out there unless you've been young out there."

Now 65, Pacino - young, older and every year in between - was celebrated Friday night in Beverly Hills with the 20th annual American Cinematheque Award. His co-stars in some of his 38 films and counting turned out with high praise and gratitude for Pacino's professional dedication and the inspiration he has been to countless actors.


Host Jeremy Piven showed what he described as a "motivational tape" circulating in Hollywood. It was a tightly knitted montage of scripted f-bombs tripping off Pacino's lips - nouns, verbs, adjectives, shouted, whispered, tossed offhand. (Best of luck to the editors preparing the show for telecast on AMC)


Award presenter Bruce Willis remembered being dumbstruck for days by Pacino's performance in "The Godfather." "What was wrong with me was I had decided to become an actor because I had seen Al Pacino's work in that movie. And at the time it seemed like a really bad idea. Kinda worked out." He said he still finds himself doing lines of dialogue from Pacino's most memorable scenes.

Asked which Pacino character is most like the actor in real life, his Godfather co-star James Caan said: "I don't know; he's pretty complex - in a nice way. A very simple guy. He's basically a very warm, sweet guy."  So, Scarface then? "Yeah, Scarface would be it," Caan joked.



Andy Garcia ("The Godfather Part III") read a letter that began "Dear Uncle Michael"....and graciously offered to whack anybody in the room who had disrespected the don!


Charlize Theron recalled Pacino staying on set in the wee hours just for her benefit during a scene in "The Devil's Advocate."

Others send accolades via pre-recorded messages....see below.

**"Throughout our careers, people have tried to compare us, to pit us against one another and tear us apart personally," Robert De Niro ("Heat") said via video. "But through it all, Al, I think you've always known just how much I admire and respect you and the work you do. Honestly, you just may be the finest actor of our generation - with the possible exception of me, frankly."

** Longtime Pacino friend Jon Voight remembered poignantly how, after his success with "Midnight Cowboy," he hit a professional slump that had him questioning his talent. He said hearing Pacino say, "Jon, you're a great actor," made all the difference to him.

** John Goodman ("Sea of Love") confessed to being so awe-struck as a young acting student when he saw "The Godfather II" that he and his buddy promptly tried in vain to get Pacino's phone number from Manhattan directory assistance. "Al, I'm not sure exactly what I would have said to you if somehow I'd gotten through back then, other than the same thing I'd like to say to you right now: Thank you."

** Meryl Streep remembered Pacino as the first star she met personally, when her boyfriend John Cazale ("The Godfather") invited him to dinner. "My hands shook as I was making the spaghetti sauce," she said. "Your acting is just out of the ballpark, darling. There is nobody who burns hotter or chills colder than you do."

Then the legend takes the stage...



Pacino fumbled with small bits of paper - props, he said - in an emotional, off-the-cuff acceptance speech. He choked up briefly when he expressed gratitude to his late mother, who "never saw any day of success of mine," but gifted him with encouragement and confidence...


"I wish I could say more about what's in my heart right now, but I've always needed a writer," he said. "Whatever I would have written for a speech couldn't have come close to what I've felt this evening.  "I thank God for my life, and I thank God that I had faith as a youngster and a young actor."

Arriving in style, they came to honor the legend....

With daughter Julie Marie very proud of her Dad


Producer and Al's sister Roberta Pacino came to give her brother tribute.

Godfather co-star James Caan gives Al his sentiments in true Sicilian fashion!


Before the dinner at the Beverly Hilton, Pacino told USA TODAY he had a soft spot for his lesser-known films. "I'm a bit partial to the movie I made Looking for Richard," he said, referring to the 1996 directorial project about Shakespeare villain Richard III. "But I guess I have a lot of favorites. I've done so many, it's hard to compute."

Click here to go to Pacino Worldwide's
Filmography Page dedicated to Al's films.

Always off and running....
check out the Future Features page to see what projects are in the works for Al!