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I saw Scarecrow when it originally came out in 1973. Like so many
movies of that era (late 60's - early 70's) it didn't have the
requisite "happy ending" that Hollywood force feeds us today. Instead,
we're presented with the desolate lives of two drifters searching for
redemption at their respective destinations of Pittsburgh and Detroit.
Hackman and Pacino are at their best here, providing the same type of
brilliant acting and on-screen presence that Voight and Hoffman gave us
in Midnight Cowboy (1969). In fact I've always thought these two movies
would make for a great "compare and contrast" assignment in a Theatre
Hackman has been quoted as saying that this was his favorite role. No argument here, it's my favorite too. Thanks Gene. You too Al.
2 pawns who are making up for their past are living the present like they may have no future. Hackman and Pacino are amazing. Some of the 1 shot scenes last for 2-3 minutes. The magic created on screen by these two actors are mind blowing. The opening and closing scenes are so "different" it can be classed as poetic in a way. This is not your regular Hollywood movie, although it has 2 of the greatest actors in American movie history. Check this film out! 1973 never looked so real.
This excellent movie has been overlooked for too long. Its a great film
every level. It is entertaining as well as deeply profound. Schatzberg's
directing is outstanding, Hackman and Pacino deliver acting on a level
rarely found in any films, and the script is funny, while retaining a
note of tension and melancholy throughout. Its an exceptional film,
overlooked by American audiences in the years since its release (despite
winning the grand prize at Cannes, as well as the acting prize for Hackman
Don't overlook this film. Rent it!
This overlooked film features Gene Hackman's best performance as an introverted ex-con. Al Pacino gives one of his best performances. Director Jerry Schatzberg and cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond capture both the squalor and the grandeur of the American landscape. Garry Michael White's screenplay is filled with richly nuanced characters, religious symbolism and a deep sense of humanity. One of the best of the 70's.
Scarecrow is a low-key film that succeeds on all its ambitions, but not
because it tries to aim low. That the tone at times doesn't feel as
emotionally incredible or intense as some other films Gene Hackman and
Al Pacino got their star-making turns in the 70s (French Connection,
Dog Day Afternoon, Serpico) doesn't mean it's unsuccessful either.
Jerry Schatzberg and his writer are out to capture a kind of outsider
view of men trying to find their places in society, almost like how
Michael Cimino would do (to a more genre-oriented extent) with
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. It's not a movie a lot of people would go
out of their way to see, even with the star power involved. It's about
two guys who've been released from confinement from the world around
them, Max from six years in jail (Hackman), Francis from five years out
at sea in the Navy (Pacino), and how the two meet up unintentionally
while hitchhiking, unlikely pair up, and Hackman gets Pacino to go in
with him on opening up a car wash in Pittsburgh.
Why Pittsburgh? Just one of the peculiarities of Max, mayhap? More-so a thing of pride. There's characteristics to Max and Francis that make them compelling for the honesty in what they are: Max is a tough guy, tending to get drunk, get in fights, sex it up with women (who knew Hackman had such, um, animal magnetism), and Francis (also named Lion by Max) is a clown, a little boy who somehow made the mistake of having a kid with a woman before he left the Navy, and has a present ready to give to the kid in Detroit- an androgynous lamp- despite not knowing entirely what to expect. It's an odd couple movie, but also one that has a more affecting view into a world of men on the fringe of society. These guys don't have big plans, and wouldn't want any anyway. It's refreshing to see that, and how it pans into the nature of them and their environment: the small towns, the local dives, the bad drunks, and, when things go bad after a big brawl during a drunken hoopla, the subtle horrors of prison for the both of them. Did I mention train-hopping?
A film like this, despite having on its side gorgeous cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond (who, along with Badlands and, in its own way Mean Streets, captures a vision of Americana that is pure and unique to its time and place), needs strong acting. Who better than Hackman and Pacino? They're playing big personalities, with Hackman doing great as always in a somewhat typical part of a guy who's aggressive and pig-headed but does have a hear. And Pacino doing a rare comedic turn as he gives some of his funniest (genuine, not unintentional scene-stealing) moments, like his 'diversion' gone wrong in the clothing store, or his classic "teach me how to handle a drunk" bit at the bar. Sometimes its too much, but it leads to a bittersweet side to the story that turns even more bitter by the time Schatzberg reaches the emotional climax in Detroit. What's been alternately crude and crazy, sometimes in ways that remind one a little of Altman, turns towards what is a small but great tragedy for these characters. And doing the script one better, the actors are able to get subtle, crushing, telling moments in scenes that others wouldn't be able to grasp with a ten-foot pole.
It's also a fun movie, with a feel that you could only get in one of the truly great years in all movies (look at the year this came out, and realize how many films of its ilk were released, be they independent-like from Scorsese or Altman or Ashby or even Romero, or even Friedkin's Exorcist). Scarecrow is of its time, but it doesn't mean it can't be greatly liked in the present; it's even a near classic of genre subversion, doing a service to drama and comedy by not paying lip-service to either form, but enriching what comes naturally out of life, which is both sometimes, harrowingly, at once. 9.5/10
I saw this film many years ago. It has that early 1970's charm and feel that we almost never see anymore. Hackman (Max) an ex-con on the rebound and Pacino (Lionel) a drifting ex-sailor meet randomly while hitchhiking. They spark an unlikely friendship and venture on a road trip. Max plans on owning his own carwash and chooses Lionel for his partner in business. This is a story of two losers with modest dreams. They may not be the winners of society, but they will definitely win your heart. Max is a mean and tough creep while Lionel is a lovable rogue. The ending is shockingly sad and all too real. With effective symbolic panning of the fountain's cherubs and the haunting background score make for an unforgettable experience. Pacino and Hackman deliver remarkable performances. This is more of a guy film in that I don't think it's any woman's cup of tea. But if you want to catch a glimpse of great natural acting and a taste of 70's melodrama, Scarecrow is worth every minute.
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).
The highlights of this movie are the expected standout performances by a young Al Pacino and a young, well younger, Gene Hackman. Their range of facial expressions and absoulutely convincing characterizations are a joy to behold. Also since Hollywood usually deals in glamour, it's a nice change to see characters with more modest aspirations. A very good road movie, a genre I usually don't gravitate to, 7/10.
Essentially, the film reveals is that people use different ways and personas to protect themselves from being hurt. Max is obviously confrontational and aggressive. Francis is a clown. Each disarms those around them so that they don't get too close. You can look at a scarecrow in many ways, but the purpose is the same.... to keep the crows away. Max uses fear, Francis uses jokes. At the end of the movie, Francis' scarecrow doesn't work anymore when strong feelings break through surface. The dialog and acting in this film are first rate. Two of my favorite actors in break-out roles. Hackman as a sensitive guy... Pacino as a comedian... who would have thought?
Max and Lionel, two ordinary guys, meet by chance on a lonely country road
while hitchhiking and strike up a friendship. Max (Gene Hackman) is a
hot-tempered ex-con who dreams of owning his own business, a car wash.
Lionel (Al Pacino) is a seaman who abandoned his pregnant girlfriend some
years prior but who, despite this character flaw, is so mild-mannered and
sweet you really just want to give him a big hug.
Hackman is great as the hard-edged Max, yet despite his gruff exterior you know there is a man of deep feeling and caring underneath. Pacino never fails to disappoint in whatever he does and he doesn't in this tour-de-force performance. Famous for playing loud, larger than life character's with extreme zeal -- Colonel Frank Slade from SCENT OF A WOMAN and Tony Montana from SCARFACE for instance -- here his performance is like a whisper -- quietly calm yet powerfully effective.
A nice surprise in the cast is Richard Lynch (in his screen debut) as Riley, the man who befriends Lionel while he and Max are briefly incarcerated for a bar fight. Lynch is only in the movie for approximately 20 minutes, but what a 20 minutes! His ability to convey the sleazy yet somehow likable Riley let's the audience know that this is a talent to watch for in the coming years. With such great method acting from all three actors, it's no wonder this movie won the prestigious Golden Palm Award at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival!
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