Cool To Be Fuller Yourself
Sam Fuller is one of the beloved mavens of low-budget filmmaking. The energetic proprietor of pulp storytelling is responsible for pioneering a predominantly primitive style. But, like any great movie-making influence, Fuller also dabbled in other forms of film: notably, acting. Ah, you don't believe me. Well, I have definitive video proof. And the proof is in the witnessing; in my case, the revival of my "Person of the Week" crown. Yes, the crown, like MJ in '95, is BACK...and to Sam Fuller and Al Pacino, go the spoils.
I dare to ask: can one imagine Sam Fuller in the immortal role of Hyman Roth, you know, the guy who connives and manipulates fragile Fredo? Yes and no. For one, Lee Strasberg's portrayal of Roth is remarkable. He manifests a chilling temperament—remember the "He's small potatoes" scene? And he captains, quite perfectly, the aged and corrupt disposition of Mr. Roth.
Fuller's audition, on the contrary, demonstrates a menacing charisma. But Hyman Roth is not meant to be chillingly demonstrative. The disloyal boss is a calm villain. Strasberg imbues a calmness and quiet terror that is, in Strasbergian splendor, impeccably terrifying. Fuller's take is engaging and invariably distinct. But it is, in my humbly omniscient Godfather state of mind, not appropriate.
Coppola made the right choice. Still, it's hard to deny the feverish chemistry between Fuller and Pacino. Mr. Ooh Ahh seems genuinely awed by Fuller's characterization. And witnessing, in a pure, unspoiled context, one of America's greatest actors performing a screen test with another legend; well, it's where amazing happens.
Anyone who follows my blog can accurately attest to my insatiable love for The Godfather, a love that never dims. My unconditional appreciation of Coppola's masterpiece supplements my immense Al Pacino man crush; in terms of acting, people. He is (under contemporary criteria, the more apt word is 'was') one of America's Acting Rushmore's. Although, his performances have waned over the years, much like another favorite Robert De Niro, Pacino's first few decades have showcased sustained glimpses of rare acting genius. So, in the spirit of past greatness, and presently, in the spirit of giddy excitement, I present to you all, a truly marvelous find: eight minutes of, what can most aptly be characterized as, an EPIC Artifact of Cinematic 'What If.'
It's my Person of the Week. It's The Godfather: Part II. It's Sam Fuller reading for the role of Hyman Roth, a portrayal that earned legendary acting teacher, Lee Strasberg, an Academy Award nomination. Yes, the very same supporting actor nomination that earned De Niro his first Oscar for the iconic role of a young Vito Corleone (before Marlon mustered that unforgettable raspy voice). Above all else, it's Al Pacino during his magnificent heyday.
Are you still dubious of this Holy Shit piece of film history? Well, to ease your skepticism, let's just acknowledge an obvious observation: it's an eight minute screen test that inspires memories of De Niro, Pacino, Brando, Fuller, Coppola, Strasberg, and of course, the holy grail of cinema, The Godfather. If said golden lineage doesn't remind you of euphoric Christmas memories, then you've probably been hanging out with Debbie Downer; not my Person of the Week. For that, I have no respite. But...maybe I'm just full of myself. I implore you all to watch the video and judge for yourself.
And a big thanks to Ain't It Cool News for the remarkable find. Apparently, they uncovered the video from TrailersFromHell via BadassDigest. YES, badass indeed :)
*One disclaimer: If you don't share my love for The Godfather, then the exacting fate that befell Mr. Roth—you know, Michael's whole, he won't see the New Year—awaits you. Ah, I kid, I kid. I do know some unsavory people, really...but only in the movies.
Fuller_Pacino_Screentest from Heiko van der Scherm on Vimeo.