Scarecrow (1973)

R | 112 or 114-115 mins | Drama | April 1973

Director:

Jerry Schatzberg

Producer:

Robert M. Sherman

Cinematographer:

Vilmos Zsigmond

Editor:

Evan Lottman

Production Designer:

Al Brenner

Production Companies:

Sanford Productions, Inc., Warner Bros., Inc.
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HISTORY

Although not listed onscreen or in reviews, a Jun 1973 DV news item announced that Sanford Productions, Inc., a company started by directors Sydney Pollack, Mark Rydell and former agent Robert M. Sherman, had contracted with Warner Bros. to produce this film. In addition to distributing, Warner Bros. financed the picture, according to the news item. Scarecrow marked playwright Garry Michael White’s first produced screenplay. One studio publicity item claimed that, to prepare for their roles, stars Al Pacino and Gene Hackman dressed like bums and panhandled on the streets on San Francisco for a week.
       No production charts for the film were found, but publicity and news items suggest that it was shot in the fall of 1972. According to modern sources, all scenes in the film were shot on location and in chronological order of the script. In addition to Northern California, locations included Reno, NV, Denver and Canon City, CO, and Detroit, MI, according to publicity material. Modern sources include Bakersfield in central California as a location. In a modern interview, Pacino stated that principal photography was completed seventeen days ahead of schedule.
       Reviews for the picture were mixed, as some critics complained that Hackman and Pacino did not make a believable screen duo. According to modern sources, Hackman, Pacino and director Jerry Schatzberg, a former fashion photographer, had many disagreements during production. Modern sources claim that while “Max” was one of Hackman’s favorite roles, he was disappointed by the picture’s poor box office and afterward sought more commercial vehicles in which to star.
       Despite its mixed reception ... More Less

Although not listed onscreen or in reviews, a Jun 1973 DV news item announced that Sanford Productions, Inc., a company started by directors Sydney Pollack, Mark Rydell and former agent Robert M. Sherman, had contracted with Warner Bros. to produce this film. In addition to distributing, Warner Bros. financed the picture, according to the news item. Scarecrow marked playwright Garry Michael White’s first produced screenplay. One studio publicity item claimed that, to prepare for their roles, stars Al Pacino and Gene Hackman dressed like bums and panhandled on the streets on San Francisco for a week.
       No production charts for the film were found, but publicity and news items suggest that it was shot in the fall of 1972. According to modern sources, all scenes in the film were shot on location and in chronological order of the script. In addition to Northern California, locations included Reno, NV, Denver and Canon City, CO, and Detroit, MI, according to publicity material. Modern sources include Bakersfield in central California as a location. In a modern interview, Pacino stated that principal photography was completed seventeen days ahead of schedule.
       Reviews for the picture were mixed, as some critics complained that Hackman and Pacino did not make a believable screen duo. According to modern sources, Hackman, Pacino and director Jerry Schatzberg, a former fashion photographer, had many disagreements during production. Modern sources claim that while “Max” was one of Hackman’s favorite roles, he was disappointed by the picture’s poor box office and afterward sought more commercial vehicles in which to star.
       Despite its mixed reception in the U.S., Scarecrow was a co-winner of the Golden Palm best picture award at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, along with The Hireling (see above entry). It also received the last OCIC (Organisation Catholique Internationale du Cinéma et de l'Audiovisuel) award given as part of the festival. Modern sources add that Hackman’s brother Richard, who plays a guard in the film, also acted as Hackman’s stand-in.

More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 Apr 1973
p. 4584.
Daily Variety
13 Jun 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 1973.
---
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
13 Apr 1973.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Apr 1973
Calendar, p. 1, 24.
Motion Picture Herald
14 Apr 1973.
---
New York Times
12 Apr 1973
p. 56.
New York Times
13 May 1973
Section II, p. 13.
New York Times
27 May 1973
p. 37.
New York Times
30 Sep 1973
Section II, p. 1.
New York Times
20 Jan 1974
Section II, p. 1.
Rolling Stone
24 May 1973.
---
Time
23 Apr 1973.
---
Variety
11 Apr 1973
p. 20.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Key grip
Best boy
Gaffer
Cam op
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Assoc ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
Scr supv
Prod secy
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Pomp and Circumstance" by Edward Elgar
"The Stripper" by David Rose.
SONGS
"(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," words and music by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, sung by Aretha Franklin.
DETAILS
Release Date:
April 1973
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 11 April 1973
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros., Inc.
Copyright Date:
11 April 1973
Copyright Number:
LP42928
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
112 or 114-115
Length(in reels):
14
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23559
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

One day in rural Northern California, scruffy strangers Francis Lionel Delbuchi and Max Millan meet while hitchhiking on a quiet highway. At first the older, bespectacled Max rejects Francis’ overtures of friendship and seems indifferent to his clowning. When Francis offers a match to light Max’s cigar, however, Max relaxes, and the next day, the two end up in a diner after hitching a ride with a woman farmer. Though he knows little about his new companion, Max asks Francis to become his partner in a carwash he plans to open in Pittsburgh with money saved during six years of incarceration at San Quentin Penitentiary. The fun-loving Francis, who has been at sea for five years, accepts Max’s offer and allows him to call him “Lion,” a nickname Max deems appropriately masculine. After revealing that the ribboned box he is carrying contains a child’s lamp, Lion tells Max that he needs to stop in Detroit on their way to Pittsburgh so that he can give the lamp to his five-year-old child, whose sex he does not know. Lion confesses that he left his wife before the child was born but has been sending his savings to her as compensation. Although Max threatens to break Lion’s back if he ever crosses him, he agrees to stop in Detroit after they visit Denver, where Max’s sister Coley lives. Later, Max and Lion are thrown out of a restaurant where they had been washing dishes after Max starts brawling with another employee. When Lion gently accuses Max of having a bad temper, Max reveals he served time for assaulting his lover’s husband. ... +


One day in rural Northern California, scruffy strangers Francis Lionel Delbuchi and Max Millan meet while hitchhiking on a quiet highway. At first the older, bespectacled Max rejects Francis’ overtures of friendship and seems indifferent to his clowning. When Francis offers a match to light Max’s cigar, however, Max relaxes, and the next day, the two end up in a diner after hitching a ride with a woman farmer. Though he knows little about his new companion, Max asks Francis to become his partner in a carwash he plans to open in Pittsburgh with money saved during six years of incarceration at San Quentin Penitentiary. The fun-loving Francis, who has been at sea for five years, accepts Max’s offer and allows him to call him “Lion,” a nickname Max deems appropriately masculine. After revealing that the ribboned box he is carrying contains a child’s lamp, Lion tells Max that he needs to stop in Detroit on their way to Pittsburgh so that he can give the lamp to his five-year-old child, whose sex he does not know. Lion confesses that he left his wife before the child was born but has been sending his savings to her as compensation. Although Max threatens to break Lion’s back if he ever crosses him, he agrees to stop in Detroit after they visit Denver, where Max’s sister Coley lives. Later, Max and Lion are thrown out of a restaurant where they had been washing dishes after Max starts brawling with another employee. When Lion gently accuses Max of having a bad temper, Max reveals he served time for assaulting his lover’s husband. That night in a rundown hotel room, Lion tells Max his theory that scarecrows are effective not because they scare crows, but because they make crows laugh. Max, who always wears layers of threadbare shirts and sweaters, calls Lion crazy but admits that he befriended him for not only giving him his last match but making him laugh as well. The next day, Max and Lion hitch a ride with a family of hippies and wind up in a bar, where a drunken woman named Darlene loudly berates Max. When Max goes after Darlene in a fury, Lion prevents the altercation with some antics, and instead of fighting, Darlene and Max end up in a hotel bed together. Later, as they head east, Max and Lion take a series of temporary jobs to make ends meet. In Denver, Max enjoys a happy reunion with Coley, a junk dealer, and flirts with Coley’s friend and business partner Frenchy. To please Max, Frenchy tries to fix him a home-cooked dinner, while Max and Lion clean up Coley’s junk-filled backyard. The meal is ruined, however, when Frenchy abandons her cooking in order to flirt with Max. As the four eat takeout chicken instead, Max talks passionately about his long-planned Pittsburgh carwash. Max spends the night with Frenchy, and the next day, asks Lion to act as a decoy while he shoplifts a birthday present for Coley at the local department store. Lion’s decoy act is so frantic, however, that Max is unable to steal anything, and the two show up empty-handed at the restaurant Coley has selected for her birthday celebration. While Frenchy and Max head for the restaurant’s dance floor, Lion tells Coley about his wife Annie and his decision to face her after his five-year absence. Like Lion, Coley expresses frustration about Max’s plan to move to Pittsburgh, where his savings account is located, instead of opening a carwash in Denver. On the dance floor, meanwhile, Frenchy encounters her sometime lover, who questions her angrily about Max. Although Max punches the lover, policemen who are dining in the restaurant quickly defuse the confrontation, and Max avoids arrest. Relieved, Max announces that he has decided to open his carwash in Denver as soon as he returns from Pittsburgh with his savings. Lion and the women are thrilled by Max’s change of heart, and Max invites the entire restaurant to celebrate with them. Later, as the group dances drunkenly outside, Frenchy’s lover resumes his fight with Max, and Max ends up slugging a policeman and instigating an all-out brawl. After Max and Lion are arrested and sentenced to six months at the county work farm, Max blames Lion for their troubles. Although Lion rejects Max’s accusations, Max turns his back on Lion, leaving him vulnerable to the manipulations of trustee Jack Riley. To impress Lion, Riley bribes a guard to give Lion an easy work detail and send Max to toil in the pig sties. When Riley attempts to seduce Lion one night, however, Lion rejects him forcefully and is beaten. Bloody and bruised, Lion calls out for Max, who comforts his friend and later pummels Riley in retaliation. Soon after, Lion and Max are released, and at a bar, Max stops himself from fighting with a patron and performs a comical striptease instead, removing his many shirts and sweaters one by one. The two then hop a train to Detroit and head for Annie’s house. Terrified, Lion calls Annie from a phone booth and takes Max’s advice to own up to his mistakes and plead for forgiveness. As her five-year-old son plays next to her, the now remarried Annie yells at Lion for abandoning her and lies to him that she lost their child, a boy, when she was eight months pregnant. Although devastated by Annie’s claim that their child’s soul is in limbo because he died without being baptized, Lion hangs up and gleefully informs Max that he has a son. Lion’s happy act soon dissolves when at a public fountain, he falls into a trance and carries a young boy with whom he had been playing into the freezing water. Max rescues the pair, and Lion is hospitalized in a catatonic state. After the doctor tells Max that Lion will need months of treatment, Max reassures Lion that their partnership is still solid. Max then goes to the train station and uses the last of his cash to buy a round-trip ticket to Pittsburgh. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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