The Klash, Round 1: Pacino vs. DeNiro

Welcome to The Klash, a new feature designed to pit actor versus actor, actress versus actress, director versus director. Throughout Hollywood’s past, we’ve seen thousands and thousands of personalities come and go, but only a small percentage of them leave impressions that last lifetimes and continue to impress today. The Klash is our attempt to pit these legends against one another on a microcosmic level. Each week, one of our writers at The Cinematic Katzenjammer will go up against another writer and present his/her case as to why so-and-so is an excellent addition to the world of Film. The writers will be “blind” in the sense that they will not know anything but the name of the individual they themselves are assigned. They will be required to name the best three performances of that individual, as well as to write a brief explanation as to why their persona is the best at what they do. The verdict will be decided by you.

In return, we want you to vote on who you believe presents a better case and which three performances are stronger. Do not look at their entire filmography, but the three movies the writer decides are best. 


MV5BMTQzMzg1ODAyNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTYwMjAxODQ1._V1._SX214_CR0,0,214,314_Al Pacino is the Godfather of Godfathers, second only to Marlon Brando in terms of mobster presence. He’s a threatening personality, sharp, hoarse, growling, yet cunning behind dark eyes and capable of being as refined as anyone else. His portrayal of Michael in the Godfather series is perhaps his finest role, challenged for screen presence only by Brando himself. Seven oscar nominations and a win for Scent of  a Woman, Pacino was actually nominated for two Oscars in one year. Being typecast is in some ways a blessing and in some a curse, but Pacino has over time come to accept his role as the face of the mobster in the American imagination.

Yet his single Oscar win does not come from a typecast role. His job as a blind and irascible Army Lieutenant in Scent of a Woman is one for the ages, one that exposes his characteristic flinty strength while at the same time showing his vulnerability. Though the movie was lackluster, his portrayal of a football coach in Any Given Sunday is truly inspiring. This versatility is remarkable, which is the hallmark of a great actor. Yet Pacino has done something more than be versatile. He has pushed beyond versatility, past typecast, and into the realm of definition.

Much like Bogart perfected and more or less invented the hardboiled cynic in his era, Pacino both won an Oscar for a dramatic role and invented the contemporary mobster of American cinema. Tony Montoya and Michael Corleone live on in our collective imagination as the definitive mobsters of the movies. It is to Pacino that we owe both.

 Three Best Performances: 

Michael Corelone in The Godfather

Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman

Tony Montana in Scarface



MV5BMjAwNDU3MzcyOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjc0MTIxMw@@._V1._SY314_CR12,0,214,314_Robert De Niro is one of the greatest actors working today. With an intensity about him we rarely ever see in actors De Niro has given us performance after performance that is never short of extraordinary. When you think of gangster, you think of De Niro. When you think of New York, you think of De Niro. When you think Scorsese, you think De Niro. Together, De Niro and Scorsese created a new breed of film, with an unhinged emotion and an added level of realism, the two teamed up for some of the greatest films in modern cinematic history. Starting with his rise to power in The Godfather Part II and continuing into this past years’ Silver Linings Playbook, the man has proven to be one of the most talented actors of the past forty years.

In Taxi Driver, De Niro plays Travis Bickle, a man who slowly loses his grip on the world around him and acts out in the most violent ways. Showing the under belly of New York City and driven by his performance, Taxi Driver became an instant classic. Quotable, memorable, and all the more disturbing once you realize what’s going on, the film led way to a partnership with Scorsese that may never be matched in terms of director/actor relationships. They’ve worked together eight times, and three of those outings saw De Niro walk away with an Oscar nomination and a win for his performance as the down-and-out boxer, Jake La Motta, in Raging Bull.

It’s hard to bottle down his career to just three stand out performances, as every moment he’s on the screen he steals your attention as well as the scene, and brings his level of intensity through the fourth wall and right into your face. Rivaled by no one, De Niro is the epitome of a living legend, a true gangster, a war veteran, a criminal, a lover, and a hero. With class and grit, De Niro stands alone.

Three Best Performances:

Vito Corelone in The Godfather Part II 

Jake La Motta in Raging Bull

Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver


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  • Very cool new feature. Big fan of both of these men. Will the writers be revealed?

  • Nick

    Only after the round is over next week, when Round 2 will be posted.

  • Cool. I like all the mystery.

  • Ooh I like this feature. Just sent in my vote!

  • Nick


  • Of the films chosen, I have voted, but I hate myself. I hate you too for making me choose. 😉

  • This feature is awesome. Love the Klash pic. My vote is in!

  • Ries

    Oh, I voted.

  • Too easy!!!!!
    Great idea buddy for a feature. 🙂

  • Nick

    Haha. That’s part of the plan!

  • Nick

    Thanks Shane!

  • Nick

    Thanks Ries!

  • Nick

    Haha. Thank you for the header image. I forgot to give you credit for it! I’ll edit that in now!

  • When I pitted these two against each other at FMR, DeNiro killed Pacino. LOL

    I voted for Al just to give him some payback! 😀

  • Nick

    Well thanks for voting!

  • For some reason in my head I kept hearing Lets Get Ready To Rumble !!!!!! while reading this.

  • Nick

    Haha. That’s the point!

  • What a FANTASTIC way to begin an awesome new segment. I vote Pacino, but I love the both of them and I definitely want to try writing for this at some point.

  • Nick

    You will, V. Your first assignment is on the way.

  • damn, this was not easy. and the film choices made it tougher because, left on my own film choices, i likely would have gone with pacino instead of de niro. however, the rules say only these three films, and that settles it for me. if “dog day afternoon” were in there, then i might have gone with pacino. i’m glad “any given sunday” was left out because i never saw it. i have trouble with football movies because i’m a huge NFL fan going on 40 years, and i have not yet seen a film that convincingly portrays what happens on sundays.

  • Has Pacino really only done 45 movies?? Wow, surprised. Anyway, De Niro for me 🙂

  • Philip

    I picked Pacino, ’cause DeNiro wasn’t in any of the Ocean’s films 🙂

  • And Ocean’s Thirteen was surprisingly awesome.

  • Nice segment! One of these days I’m gonna get organezized, but until then I gotta go with the performance from the first DVD I ever owned!

  • I tend to agree with Rich, Dog Day Afternoon would have made this pick alot tougher, or maybe even the Insider… But with the film choices the write has made De Niro clearly…

  • Awesome feature, guys. And I must commend you on your new look. I’m digging it. By the way, voted for De Niro. Pacino blew any chance he had with me by doing Jack and Jill.

  • I love Al, and if I take his entire filmography under consideration I probably pick him. However, based on the rules in place I had no choice but to go with Bobby D. Although Pacino won his Oscar for Scent of a Woman, I think it was more a career pick. Pacino began playing the same boisterous characters beginning with Dick Tracy, and he’s still playing that same character. At the same time, DeNiro has been doing nothing more than collect a check for his roles..that is until Silver Linings Playbook.

    Anyway, I love the new feature!

  • Good stuff Nick. It’s obvious who the winner is tho!

  • Nick

    I too was thinking Dog Day Afternoon. If you’re not a fan of football movies, i can understand. Which one do you think gets closest to what you feel on Sundays though? Silver Linings does a good job of that, I think.

  • Nick

    I think he made quality and then came out with like 4 a year as of late. His numbers are stacked towards the end lol

  • Nick

    Awesome may be a bit of an over-exaggeration, but it was much better than Ocean’s 12.

  • Nick

    Thanks for voting Nate!

  • Nick

    It’s always tough to narrow it down to just three.

  • Nick

    Thanks E! And thanks for voting although the votes are for the case presented and the three films listed lol. But Jack and Jill broke all sort of rules.

  • Nick

    Don’t get me wrong, Pacino is great in Scent of a Woman but I agree, it’s his overdue Oscar that was given. Only downhill since.

  • Nick

    Care to elaborate? 😉

  • Michael

    This was a really tough choice. The actors are similar enough to stand in roughly the same categories but each has its own merits. It took a long time for me to like Pacino but I’ve really warmed up to him. On the other hand, Deniro’s performance in Raging Bull was stunning.

  • Nick

    I love your ambiguity when it comes to who you voted for lol.

  • Is this even a serious question? The Godfather 1-3 hands down negates anything Deniro has ever done (and yea, he was in II, but frankly Pacino is that series if you can get past Brando). My friend, I must throw my hat directly into the Pacino pool. Granted, Deniro also has some gems, but when you have one of the top 5 films/film series of all time in your play book, it is an auto win. Anyone who votes Deniro should be ashamed, I said it. Also, my vote should count X3 due to my size/weight. Thank you.

  • Also-

    Three Best Performances:

    Michael Corelone in The Godfather II

    Michael Corelone in The Godfather I

    Michael Corelone in The Godfather III

  • Nick

    Well given the performances that were picked, would you still say Pacino?

  • Bobby is the man! No doubt about it. Just think of all the top class director’s he’s worked with as well. Year after year, DeNiro delivered the goods and he’s rivalled by absolutely no one. Not even Pacino.

  • Nick

    I know who you voted for! lol

  • Just my opinion, and has nothing to do with the voting… But i think Any Given Sunday is underrated. Probably one of Oliver Stone’s last good films.

  • Yes. (I know they are the same type of movies, but I’d rather see Casino or Goodfellas on the list for Deniro, but I understand from a purely cinematic viewpoint why you put the other movies on. This is more my personal opinion anyways).

  • Love the new look and the KLASH, just anther way to think about the movies/actors that stay with us

  • Nick

    Thank you!

  • Belinda

    Voted! love the feature, it will keep me coming back for more and more! cinekatz gluttony! 🙂

  • Nick

    Thanks. And you can bet there will be plenty of more where this came from!

  • Ries

    Excellent, check out the Klash every Wednesday for a new matchup! Thank you for coming by!

  • Ries


  • I’ll just repeat what others said above….DOG DAY AFTERNOON!

  • Nick

    It really is a great film.