What is it about young Al Pacino that is so mesmerizing to watch? Something about how effortless he makes it all look, perhaps? Ultimately he, however odd he is now, is one absolutely legendary actor. Here in Scarecrow, we have one of the few times we get to experience Pacino as a complete goofball character. His character, Lion, has an eclectic personality and is hard not to love. He is a little off his rocker but seems to pair well with his opposite Max, played by Gene Hackman who, at this point, was definitely the more seasoned actor. This film feels like an odd choice overall for both of them. The film has its high points as it is rather enjoyable to watch and offers a good time feeling throughout the majority of the story. The problem is, This is Gene Hackman and Al Pacino two of the most well-known actors on the planet who helped reshape the world of acting in film (or at least American film). The other big qualm I have with the film, which I run into with a lot of the Warner Archives, is this film is one I have never heard of, even though it has these two in it together, the answer must either be that I am simply poorly educated in early-seventies American Cinema or these films are terrible.
Our story follows two men, who you could very well refer to as hobo’s who are making their way across the country one hitch at a time. Max (Hackman) and Lion (Pacino) could not be more different as individuals. Max is a bit older than Lion and has a rather abrasive personality. Overall, most people do not get along with him. Lion is very much the opposite, choosing to find humor in whatever he can, and making sure to leave the people he meets better than he finds them. Max is traveling, ultimately, to open a car wash and decided to take on Lion as a Business Partner. Lion seems thrilled at the idea but needs to make a stop in Detroit to drop off a gift for the child he has but has never met. As is expected with such a story, they happen upon a few different bumps in the road, including jail time, lovers, and heartbreak. The question the film asks is “how much can a man take before he breaks?” as Lion starts to embody the very Scarecrow metaphor he was so very pleased to present in the beginning.
I am a huge fan of Pacino in this film. It is unlike anything I have ever seen from him. He comes off excited and fresh, and genuinely funny like I have never seen him before. Hackman is entirely unique. I have never known him to be in a role where I am both rooting for him and despising him at the same time, fully showing his range at such an early stage of his career. The story took me by surprise and gladly so. I never in a million years could have imagined these two legendary actors would start in a film about two ragtag hobos finding their way.
The Film 4/5
Director Jerry Schatzberg is nothing but eclectic in his film choices. This time around he chose to work with Vilmos Zsigmond as his cinematographer who has worked on some of the most interesting films of the last two decades. The result of these two working in tandem is a film that bleeds creativity and speaks a rather young audience of the time rather than what you might expect from these now veteran actors. I found the upgrade to Blu-ray to be wonderful and it lends a hand in making these characters feel personal and tangible enough that they seem to jump off the screen in particular Pacino comes off rather genuine. Even though I have not seen the film with the added benefit of the Blu-ray upgrade I am confident enough to say this is a worthy upgrade and the film benefits from the format.
Picture Quality 4/5
Veteran composer Fred Myrow (Soylent Green, Phantasm, Phantasm II, Phantasm III: Lord of the Dead) takes his hand on the soundtrack for Scarecrow. Delivering a soundtrack that is both heartfelt and ambitious enough to make us love these characters. The film itself has a good enough story that it didn’t need much help however there are several moments that are made even more powerful by the score we are given. Moments reminiscent of grand films, one moment, in particular, took me back to the first time I watched One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (sorry halfway spoiler). I found the audio levels immaculate, without problems.
Audio Quality 5/5
I received a rather sturdy case, with an inviting enough image on the front. Scarecrow is a unique film and the case should absolutely reflect that idea. We have a standard Amaray case, no sleeve, with simplistic if not original artwork. On the inside, we have a single disc with artwork on the front. Ironically enough the artwork on the disc appears more clear to me than the outside image on the package. All-in-all it seems like a case that will for quite some time and I cannot really complain although I find myself still convinced that minimalistic artwork would benefit these archive releases.
The Packaging 3/5
Warner Brothers has not given me a reason to expect any sort of supplemental extras with their Blu-ray release beyond the occasional Trailer. This tends to be because of the age of the films themselves. So color me surprised to see that We have a legit extra and a trailer. The extras included are :
- On the Road with Scarecrow
- Theatrical Trailer
Special Features 2/5
This film is wonderful, I had a ball watching these two characters come together and become a team that is unforgettable. Their journey is one of strife and tribulation and most of that comes from themselves. I didn’t really know what to expect and the first few minutes are so off the wall from anything I had seen from Pacino I really was clueless about the film I was about to see. What we end up with is a film of heart, of humor, and relationships that bind all sorts of people. This film is about more than these two unique characters, it is as much about them than it is about the backdrop they face. Whether it’s the economy or the relationships they have fallen into these two men have their work cut out for them. You can purchase this film HERE.
Overall 4/5- Highly Enjoyable