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Al Pacino's Career in the 1980's


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Pacino's career slumped in the early 1980s and his appearances in the controversial Cruising and the comedy-drama Author! Author! were critically panned. 1983's Scarface later proved to be both a career highlight and a defining role. When the film was first released, it too was hammered critically but it did perform well at the box office grossing $44 million domestically. However, it did earn Pacino a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as a Cuban drug lord who (among other things) cries out the now famous line, punctuated by a grenade launcher blast, "You wanna play rough? Okay! Say hello to my little friend!". (The film was a loose remake of Howard Hawks 1932 original, which starred Paul Muni) It wasn't until almost 20 years later, that Scarface began to find its success when a new generation embraced the film. That newly found recognition, however, had more to do with the film's attitude than with any acknowledgment of cinematic excellence. Nevertheless, the role and film succeeded in elevating Pacino to iconic status, a place of popularity which continues to benefit from the mega marketing blitz of product, from T-Shirts, to action figures, to hip-hop emulations, among plenty of other marketing ploys.

1985's Revolution continued Pacino's string of commercial and critical failures, and he returned to stage work for four years. He mounted workshop productions of Crystal Clear, National Anthems and other plays; appeared in Julius Caesar in 1988 for producer Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival; and worked on his most personal project, The Local Stigmatic, a play he had starred in Off Broadway in 1969, then remounted in 1985 with director David Wheeler and the Theater Company of Boston in order to film a 50-minute movie version unreleased as of 2005.

Pacino remarked on his hiatus from film: "I remember back when everything was happening, '74, '75, doing The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui on stage and reading that the reason I'd gone back to the stage was that my movie career was waning! That's been the kind of ethos, the way in which theater's perceived, unfortunately."

Pacino returned in 1989's Sea of Love.


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  • Alfredo James "Al" Pacino is an Academy Award, Emmy Award, and Tony Award-winning American stage and film actor, regarded by many to be one of the seminal actors of his generation.

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