In 16th century Venice, when a merchant must default on a large loan from an abused Jewish moneylender for a friend with romantic ambitions, the bitterly vengeful creditor demands a gruesome payment instead.
Max is an ex-con who's been saving money to open a car wash in Pittsburgh. Lionel is a sailor who's returning home to the midwest to see the child born while he was at sea. They form an unlikely pair as the brawling Max learns a little how Lionel copes with the world: Lionel believes that the scarecrow doesn't scare birds, but instead amuses them - birds find scare-crows funny. Written by
Gary Dickerson <email@example.com>
This is a forgotten classic from the 1970s and a film which few will find on the list of great films made by Al Pacino and Gene Hackman, although it is close to both actors' best work. As with most road films there is very little plot but what plot there is concerns two drifters (Pacino and Hackman), who meet while trying to hitchhike and, after quickly bonding, decide to become partners in a car wash.
They are both very different characters with Hackman dominating as Max, an irritable tough guy, and Pacino, for once underplaying, in the lesser role of Lionel. Although Hackman can play hard-nut characters in his sleep, the role of Max offers him more range than he often gets. This comes mainly through the quirky aspects of his character, such as his obsession with having to wear several layers of clothing, and also in the more tender and comical scenes.
Despite a running time of nearly two hours the film never drags, unlike many road movies, and this is largely due to the performances, especially that of Hackman. There is also another excellent sinister turn from Richard Lynch, a token 1970s villain, who befriends Lionel (Pacino) after he and Max (Hackman) have been sent to prison.
If there is one aspect which lets the film down it's the ending. "Scarecrow" is one of those films in which very little happens and thus it is tagged with an unnecessarily dramatic ending, which is pure Hollywood schmaltz. It would have benefited far more if the film-makers had simply ended the film where it began, rather than struggling with the choice of an overly happy or sad conclusion (I won't tell you which).
18 of 21 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?