THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK
Directed by Jerry Schatzberg
Starring Al Pacino, Kitty Winn, Richard Bright, Marcia Jean Kurtz
Approx. 110 min. 4K DCP.
That’s the little triangle at Broadway and 71st Street — in the 60s and 70s, a hang-out for West Side junkies — and where decent Midwesterner Kitty Winn is headed from the moment she spies painter boyfriend Raul Julia (in his debut) making a connection with small-time crook, pusher and user Al Pacino. Scintillating star debut for Pacino (he was cast in THE GODFATHER only after Coppola screened PANIC for Paramount execs) as the Boyfriend from Hell — and an equally smashing debut for Winn, granddaughter of WWII General George Marshall: she won Best Actress award at Cannes for her performance. Stark, music-less, near-documentary treatment of drug-life — and an offbeat love story — with scenes photographed (by Polish DP Adam Holender, who shot MIDNIGHT COWBOY only two years before) on Gotham streets, and with Pacino often improvising from the solid basis of Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne’s screenplay. Only the second film from the photographer Schatzberg (already renowned for his fashion work and Bob Dylan images, including the iconic Blonde on Blonde cover), PANIC established him as a distinctive stylist. With Richard Bright as Pacino’s thief brother, the unsung Alan Vint as the narc (setting new records for low-key delivery), Marcia Jean Kurtz (DOG DAY AFTERNOON) as a sex worker/addict/mother, and a young Paul Sorvino (GOODFELLAS) as one of her clients.
With support from the Ada Katz Fund for Literature in Film.
“A QUINTESSENTIAL 70s MOVIE… Schatzberg was one of the most gifted and original filmmakers to emerge during the 70s.”
– Dave Kehr, The New York Times
“Schatzberg creates a tremulous visual palette of briskly panning telephoto shots and macrophotographic intimacy that unfolds a city within a city and reveals a second world of experience that shows through New York’s abraded surfaces.”
– Richard Brody
“Pacino is a force of nature.”
– The Village Voice
“A special and extraordinary movie! A carefully observed portrait.”
– Roger Ebert
“Schatzberg moves with considerable force over the urban territory of MIDNIGHT COWBOY, using hand-held cameras and a sustained editing rhythm to convey the couple’s gradual descent into hell as mercilessly as he shows the needles entering his characters’ veins.”
– Time Out (London)
“A relatively unsung chronicle of ‘70s alienation… Remembered mainly as the neophyte Pacino’s launching pad into GODFATHER stardom, the modestly scaled, harrowing NEEDLE PARK has over the decades proven to be nearly as influential as Coppola’s blockbuster, setting a cinematic template later used by DRUGSTORE COWBOY, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, and a good deal of Sundance Channel fodder.”
– Fernando F. Croce, Slant Magazine