Thursday, July 26, 2007


The second movie I saw Monday was the meandering Gene Hackman and Al Pacino novelty Scarecrow (1973),* an episodic road show featuring some pitch-perfect work from actors who were arguably at the height of their careers. Max and Francis (Hackman and Pacino) meet while competing for rides along a lonely US back route. Their personalities are fittingly opposite: Max is a rough-talking ex-con consistently simmering with anger mismanagement, while Francis, newly returned from five years in the Navy, is a comedic peacemaker and nervous clown. Francis doesn't think much of Max's bullying ways: he tells a story about how scarecrows don't succeed by frightening birds, rather they are so ludicrous that crows appreciate them as entertainment. For his own part, Max can't stand the name Francis, he decides to call the other man Scarecrow. The two begrudgingly make friends, each maintaining a goal while altering their immediate venture to accommodate a new partner. Max's savings account is in Pittsburg, where he wants to open a car wash. Francis wants to catch-up with the relationship he abandoned in its pregnancy and the child he's never met. Under his arm he carries a present for his kid, its wrapping becoming dirtier as the movie goes by. Essentially plotless, this movie relies on character arcs rather than a distinct set of acts. The leads are almost implausibly good, given every opportunity to shine over pages of open dialogue and successful adlibbing, accompanied by photographic magic that ranges in ability from unobtrusive professionalism to spellbinding artistic virtuosity. But it's Hackman and Pacino who truly defy belief: each playing characters tiresomely overbearing, or the opposite, with such spectacular grace, heart, and--ultimately--restraint, that after nearly two hours of constant study I felt nary a hint of remaining dislike for either of them. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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