Yet Pacino has won only a single Academy Award during his more than 40 years in film: a Best Actor for his portrayal of Lt. Col. Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman—an honor with which I vehemently disagree, because…Pacino stole that character from McLean Stevenson!
Case-in-point: Pacino’s hallmark quote from Scent of a Woman is his many and varied expressions of hoo-ah, which have come to embody the character of Lt. Col. Frank Slade.
Now, Pacino’s more-famous version is actually a softer variant of the expression, leaving out the first h from the second syllable to create an ah rather than a hah. And perhaps differentiating the exclamation from McLean Stevenson’s delivery was intentional on Pacino’s part—in which case Pacino would richly deserve his Oscar…if that were the only element of his award-winning character that he lifted from the venerable Stevenson.
Sadly, it is not.
Beyond the obvious copying of rank—like Henry Blake, Frank Slade is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army—as well as the monosyllabic nearness of their surnames—Blake and Slade, which may have been Pacino's homage to the beloved commander of the 4077th—each character threatens suicide. The entire plot of Scent of a Woman revolves around the blind Frank Slade’s desire to enjoy a riotous farewell weekend in Manhattan before killing himself. Similarly, during the tumult of the Korean family building a home on “their” land, Henry Blake exasperatingly asks Capt. Pak, “What’s Korean for ‘suicide?’”
* I simply do not know if the expression appears in the original film—to a non–Italian-speaking viewer, every other word in an Italian film sounds like hoo-hah.
(Image of Al Pacino copyright Universal Pictures; Image of M*A*S*H copyright CBS.)