Wednesday, July 14, 2010

They don't make them like this anymore...

...which is not an unalloyed blessing. Scarecrow (1973) is the kind of rambling, acting-driven, somewhat indulgent project which, if done at all nowadays, is made independently. But coming fresh off The French Connection and The Godfather, this is what Gene Hackman and Al Pacino chose to do (and what the Warner Bros. of that time was happy to finance and distribute), to remind the world that they were actors, and not merely puppets dancing for the master filmmakers.

They play two ex-con drifters making a feckless journey, ostensibly to Pittburgh, where Hackman claims to have the means to open a car wash they can run together. They don't get there. That's about the whole plot.

Scarecrow doesn't even really show its stars doing what they do best--they seem to have reversed roles for the heck of it. Hackman is a rather sour party-pooper and Pacino is a goofball clown. Given the length of the film and the lack of narrative drive, this wears thin before very long. The director and screenwriter have neglected to provide alternative textures, so it is Gene and Al all the way. Gene wants to do something practical, Al acts wacky, Gene gets mad, tries to do something practical, Al acts wacky, and so on and so on.

However, if you are curious about the film, but want to save time, start at about the 1:30 point (the entire film is about 1:50). The clip above is from this portion of the film. Just before the portion you see, Pacino's bitter ex-wife has lied to him, telling him that the son he has never seen was in fact never born. See Pacino's character's natural humanity turn and sour on him, as Hackman must now adopt the role of caretaker.

I am sure everyone involved in the film was the better for making it, but I'm not sure what the rest of us gained, except certainty that these men had a lot of good work ahead of them.

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