Pacino’s Shylock

Pacino on set with Radford

So a new issue of The New Yorker arrives & I see Al Pacino is playing “Shylock” again (this time on stage at the Delacorte), & Hilton Als says: “Pacino’s Shylock, it turns out, is interesting not in relation to the rest of the play but because he is Pacino’s Shylock.  (This was less of a problem in Michael Radford’s 2004 film version of Merchant, in which Pacino’s performance was more toned down.)”

Yikes?!?  “More toned down”?!?  I thought Pacino’s on screen Shylock was way over the top!!!  Here’s what I said in my review for the World Jewish Digest:

“Al Pacino is almost always described as ‘a great actor,’ but what people really mean is that Pacino has given many great performances. He could have imbued his Shylock with some of the icy, calculating reserve Michael Corleone had in the first two installments of THE GODFATHER series. He doesn’t. Furthermore, Shylock speaks here with the voice of ‘Lefty’ Ruggiero, the mobster in Donnie Brasco (‘Fugeddaboutit!). Compared to the British accents emanating from the rest of the cast, this Shylock sounds crude and guttural even among his fellow Jews.”

Shame on the people who mistake this accent for Yiddish, all the more so since director Michael Radford subscribes to the theory that Shylock was Sephardic!

Click HERE to read my chat with Radford.  Meanwhile, if you’re interested in Merchant of Venice, we recommend the Trevor Nunn production.

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