If a role lacks an accent and big personality, Al Pacino likely won’t be anywhere near it. The revered actor was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the 46th Academy Awards in 1974 for his portrayal of Frank Serpico in the film Serpico. This was part of a mind-blowing run from 1973-1980 in which Pacino received Oscar nominations five out of eight years.

With Serpico currently streaming free on Tubi TV, let’s look at some of Pacino’s greatest roles, and figure out how this one stacks up.

The Godfather – Michael Corleone
Serpico – Frank Seripico
Dog Day Afternoon – Sonny Wortzik
…And Justice for All – Arthur Kirkland
Scarface – Tony Montana
Dick Tracey – Alphonse “Big Boy” Caprece
Glengarry Glen Ross – Richard “Ricky” Roma
Scent of a Woman – Frank Slade
The Recruit – Walter Burke

When we step back, it’s clear these roles (somehow just a tiny fraction of Pacino’s credits) vary widely in terms of legacy. Walter Burke is one of Pacino’s more prominent roles of the last 20 years, but is not one even films fans are likely to recognize out of context.

Tony Montana? Michael Corleone? Those are the main characters in some of the most successful cult films of all time.

Now for Serpico.

How do we measure Frank Serpico? The Oscar nominations that year for Best Actor in a Leading Role featured the likes of Marlon Brando, Jack Lemmon, Jack Nicholson, and Robert Redford. Hard to fault Pacino for not winning that year (Lemmon took home the statuette for his portrayal of Harry Stoner in Save the Tiger).

What about memorability? A sneer and a wide shirt collar instantly conjure up images of Tony Montana.

Michael Corleone spouted so many legendary lines it’s hard to keep count.

Serpico…well, let’s look to recent references for insight into this one. In 2007, “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” aired the episode “Bums: Making a Mess All Over the City.” In this episode, Charlie Kelly (played by Charlie Day) sets out to uncover corruption within the Philadelphia police force. Spoiler alert: He heavily channels Serpico.

Day’s imitation of Pacino’s Serpico says it all, and showcases why it is one of Pacino’s top-five rolls of all time. Is it more iconic than Tony Montana or Michael Corleone? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Click here to watch Serpico on tubitv.com, or watch below

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