It was a pre-Christmas Al Pacino weekend in Kampala! I wished it was Frank Sinatra but all we could quickly get at first was Clint Eastwood. The blue eyed boy was sulking. I watched four Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns (watch Pale Rider for Sydney Penny. She was absolutely sensational! Where did she go?) and painfully relearned why I like to think of Eastwood acting than actually watch him. I had the option of di Caprio but my cat always wants us to get something on when di Caprio’s in the room. I was going to fight with her over meeting her brothers for Christmas lunch and with di Caprio in her corner I’d have no chance. I was thinking Humphrey Bogart, the bitter with the sweet. My cat, she would know. But these DVD guys haven’t yet delivered on a Bogart tribute and now I’m holding out for an Edward G. Robinson.
I wanted something mean and lean and good for the night when she walked out but on the DVD I got Pacino was only hungry in Scarface and a stunning Michelle Pfeiffer leaner. In Scent of a Woman, leashed. Sea of Love, John Goodman the better actor. Carlito’s Way, pathetic. I wanted mean that night. I should have taken my Bogart when I had the chance. Not that Bogart is much better than Pacino.
But after what I watched on Friday even Bogart could pull off being mean better in my book and Bogart never had me (have you watched that weeper Casablanca?). Bogart.
You know, that’s another thing. I could never get the Bogart halo worship. Really. Yes, Degstar, I have watched The Maltese Falcon too and HAVE YOU watched Treasure of Sierra Madre where Bogart is supposed to be a double dealing straight out badass cheater, gold hunger in his eyes, kissing the lips of evil behind his mates’ backs? Weak! Give me Richard ‘Shaft’ Roundtree any day, Ugandan interrogation cops took lessons from this guy I could swear in a court of law. Though they didn’t go to the gym too like he did.
You want mean? You want I’ll kick you in the mouth and make you swallow your teeth and laugh as you choke on your molars mean? Try James Cagney, short nasty angel with a dirty face. Try Brando. Try Edward G. Robinson. Try Christopher Reeves. Try Val Kilmer. Try Clint Eastwood High Plains Drifter even. But leave Pacino out of this. Leave De Niro. You’ve got to be mean-souled and Pacino is too sweet-souled.
And don’t give that Iwaya eye that I say this because Pacino is a short ass. I may be taller than Pacino but neither could I be as menacing as James and Cagney was shorter than both of us. If you have never watched a James Cagney film how I wish I could trade all the movies I have watched with you to watch a James Cagney film for the first time again!
Yet Pacino’s Scarface. That soundtrack. That soundtrack, wow! That music as Pacino watches a willowy young Pfeiffer gliding down in the elevator in the Miami boss’s house, the first time he has laid eyes on her and from the way he watches her we know this elderly genteel pretension boss is gone because Pacino will want her (in her eyes and tongue-lip play he can already taste her), that music. The music in Bolivia where Pacino steals the show and there’s a not too pleasant helicopter ride waiting for his boss. There are movies made just to play a song in appropriate setting and Scarface is one of them.
But still I guess this Scarface will never win with me because it was too Gatsbysian. There could only be one Fitzgerald and you’re well advised to never ever try be the second. And I’ll never watch this Scarface again.
Now you maybe near yelling that come on you didn’t watch him in his best! The Godfather for instance. Yeah, what about the Godfather? Al Pacino as Michael Coreleone? Staggering performance, wouldn’t you say? Well I did. I also watched Pacino in Heat where he reteams with De Niro. And of the two (Godfather Pacino or Heat Pacino) I’ll say give me Heat. The Godfather is a Brando film and when Brando is dead so is the Godfather.
But I’ll say this for the Godfather/ShakaZulu type of films. They can stand rewatching. And I don’t mean this one more sentimental second time watching. I mean the compulsive obsessive rewatching for all you crazy cinephiles out there, Saturday night you don’t have a date swing that sucker in and it won’t let you down type of rewatching. There’s always something new to notice, especially in the ShakaZulu. Yes, that ShakaZulu was a smart street buy and on Friday night Pacino was no friend of mine.