HOLLYWOOD -- "I'm nuts, I'm weird but I'm great."
That was Al Pacino in a 1974 interview with the South African publication, Cinema & TV.
Three decades ago it was hard to disagree with him about the "great" part.
Sure, he had a reputation for being a bit on the intense side, but by 1974, his work already spoke for itself -- the first two Godfather movies, Serpico and Panic in Needle Park, with Dog Day Afternoon waiting in the wings.
It's important to remember that when taking in 88 Minutes (if one must), Pacino's latest -- and arguably lamest effort yet in his current career downward spiral.
Watching him as a forensic scientist who's informed he has less than an hour-and-a-half to live in this C-grade thriller, it's hard to pinpoint what's worse: The script, the acting or Pacino's gravity-defying hairdo, which seems to float atop his skull like a hirsute hovercraft.
Did he really put his artistic credibility on the line for the $9 million salary he was rumoured to have received for this nonsense?
If so, maybe the hair-don't was his way of signaling to his fans that it was really just about the money.
After all, legend has it the late, great Orson Welles was known to wear a fake nose every time he took on a role solely for the big paycheck, which would go toward funding his own personal projects.
Then again, that would represent an awful lot of hairspray given Pacino's output over much of the new millennium.
With the exception of 2002's terrific Insomnia, the duds have just kept on coming, including S1MONE, People I Know, the appropriately named Two for the Money and, oh yeah, a crazy little thing called Gigli.
To be fair, 68-year-old Pacino isn't the only heralded actor of the '70s who has made some dubious choices over the years.
Contemporary Robert De Niro has made his share of recent blunders -- Hide and Seek, anyone? -- but he's also managed to shrewdly send up his tough-guy image in Meet the Parents/Fokkers and Analyze This/That with considerable commercial success.
Likewise Jack Nicholson, who despite his growing tendency to "Jack up" a role, still possesses the ability to hunker down and deliver that old Jack magic in movies such as About Schmidt and The Departed.
But Al's in serious need of a hit, either critically or commercially speaking.
He's scheduled to return to theatres this fall in Righteous Kill, and while a reunion with his Heat co-star De Niro would normally be cause for considerable anticipation, the crime thriller happens to be produced and directed by the same folks responsible for 88 Minutes.
Other than that, he's considering playing the role of eccentric artist Salvador Dali in a new screen biography, which at the very worst would feature a wacky mustache to detract from any wacky hairstyle.
But neither one would likely do the trick.
To quote American Idol's Randy Jackson, "What's goin' down, dawg?"
Mr. Pacino, you've been in an extended rut before and bounced back in stuff such as Sea of Love and Scent of a Woman, so we know you've still got what it takes to return to form.
We miss the greatness.
Michael Rechtshaffen, a Canadian entertainment writer based in Los Angeles, writes Wednesdays and Sundays
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