Scarecrow (Jerry Schatzberg, 1973)


I watched Scarecrow on the heels of The Last Detail and they have interesting parallels.  Both are buddy road films released in 1973, one protagonist has just exited prison (Hackman, Scarecrow) and another is heading there (Quaid, The Last Detail).  A different protagonist is seeking reconciliation with family – Quaid with mother and Pacino (Scarecrow) with wife and child.  There is mental illness at work in both stories but more so in Scarecrow.  As for cinematography (although Winter plays a part in The Last Detail and dust in Scarecrow) it takes a back seat in both films to close up scenes of people talking.  I guess the comparisons end there.

Scarecrow is a very, very dark film.  While the funny banter between Hackman and Pacino and others is a continuous theme, really bad things happen to these guys along the way.  And the humor didn’t elicit laughs as much as it did a smile to my face.  As I watched the film I knew I was in for a dramatic climax but I didn’t know which character would be more heavily involved or if it would be the both of them.  This pairing of drifters is a tragic tale for sure and surprisingly moving.  Hackman delivers such a great performance of a guy that is just waiting to explode at any time but never really does and I always listen with a slightly discerning ear to those that label Pacino as a one trick pony of an actor but in this film he delivers a pretty riveting portrayal of mental illness.  The Last Detail and Scarecrow is a great 1973 two-for!

**** / *****

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