Happy Birthday Al Pacino
It was his role as a heroin addict in The Panic in Needle Park (1971) that brought Pacino to the attention of director Francis Ford Coppola, who cast him as Michael Corleone in the blockbuster Mafia film The Godfather (1972). Although Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, and the then little-known Robert De Niro were tried out for the part, Coppola selected Pacino to the dismay of studio executives
Pacino's performance earned him an Academy Award nomination, and offered a prime example of his early acting style, described by Halliwell's Film Guide as "intense" and "tightly clenched". Pacino boycotted the Academy Award ceremony, insulted at being nominated for the Supporting Acting award, noting that he had more screen time than co-star and Best Actor winner Marlon Brando—who also boycotted the awards, but for unrelated reasons.
In 1973, he co-starred in Scarecrow, with Gene Hackman, and won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. That same year, Pacino was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor after starring in Serpico, based on the true story of New York City policeman Frank Serpico, who went undercover to expose the corruption of fellow officers. In 1974, Pacino reprised his role as Michael Corleone in the sequel The Godfather Part II, which was the first sequel to win the Best Picture Oscar; Pacino, meanwhile, was nominated for his third Oscar. Newsweek magazine has described his performance in The Godfather Part II as "arguably cinema's greatest portrayal of the hardening of a heart". In 1975, he enjoyed further success with the release of Dog Day Afternoon, based on the true story of bank robber John Wojtowicz. It was directed by Sidney Lumet, who had directed him in Serpico a few years earlier, and Pacino was again nominated for Best Actor.
In 1977, Pacino starred as a race-car driver in Bobby Deerfield, directed by Sydney Pollack, and received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for his portrayal of the title role. His next film was the courtroom drama ...And Justice for All, which again saw Pacino lauded by critics for his wide range of acting.