Monday, December 4
Post-film conversation with director Jerry Schatzberg, moderated by Bruce Goldstein, Film Forum Repertory Artistic Director.
Directed by Jerry Schatzberg
Starring Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, Dorothy Tristan
Written by Jerry Schatzberg and Garry Michael White
Approx. 112 min. DCP.
Back from long stints in female-free environments: for Al Pacino's goofy, anything-for-a-laugh naif Francis Lionel Delbuchi (soon-to-be-dubbed "Lion"), five years at sea; his goal: to reconcile with the wife he abandoned and the kid he's never seen. For Gene Hackman's in-your-face, "layered-look" Max, six years in San Quentin; his El Dorado: the car wash in Pittsburgh he's been saving up for. Inevitably, they team up to hike across a Vilmos Zsigmond-shot low-class America, on the way encountering boozy wise-cracking barfly Eileen Brennan, Hackman's sister in Denver Dorothy Tristan, and her own pal Ann Wedgeworth (who's all over Hackman with a desperately lustful duel of double entendres). But if Hackman proves his toughness in a savage beating of Pacino's attempted prison rapist, he then defuses a bar fight with a hilarious striptease — to Pacino's densely enigmatic expression (add your own interpretation). With a devastating phone call and a plunge in a Detroit fountain still to come. Arguably two of the greatest performances by two of our greatest stars at the peak of their powers — and Hackman's own personal favorite. Winner of Cannes Palme D'Or and Japan's equally-prestigious Kinema Junpo award for Best Foreign Film.
"Schatzberg's moody portrayal of two drifters is graced with brilliantly intense performances by Hackman and Pacino and a cool, poetic sense of the American landscape.”
– Michael Wilmington
"Pacino's strong chemistry with Hackman favorably recalls MIDNIGHT COWBOY. SCARECROW works beautifully as an extended actor's duet, but the other major force at play is cinematographer Zsigmond, who lends the film a radiant twilight beauty.”
– Nathan Rabin, A.V. Club
The road movie may have been the defining genre of the 1970s, and SCARECROW is a definitive example... Belongs to a time, now past, when American movies still interested themselves in losers and the socially marginalized.”
– Dave Kehr, The New York Times
“Slowly, the redemptive vision of that car wash recedes—another ephemeral American dream lost in the haze of living hand-to-mouth, surviving day by day. Not even a companion by your side is guaranteed; Hollywood movies have rarely spoken such tough and tender truths.”
– Keith Uhlich, Time Out (New York)
“The passing years have proven SCARECROW's continuing appeal as a low-key character study, a downbeat ode to the downtrodden, an elegy for the American dream gone sour… Where THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK, Schatzberg's previous collaboration with Pacino, had been intensely focused and almost entirely circumscribed by its eponymous Upper West Side locale, SCARECROW embraces sprawl of both the narrative and geographical variety with freewheeling abandon.”
– Budd Wilkins, Slant
"An unusually fruitful variation on the buddy movie. Both the stars and the supporting cast contribute to an uncommonly credible portrait of lower-working class American life, witty in its wry acknowledgement of the absurdities of human interaction, raw, truthful and compassionate in its account of dependence and responsibility.”
– Geoff Andrew