June 1 - June 2, 2024

Dark Poetry: Two Films by Jerry Schatzberg and Al Pacino



“In between THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK and SCARECROW, Al Pacino made THE GODFATHER –  his first starring roles.  In a great confluence of fate and talent, these films owe their existence to a performance Pacino gave of Israel Horovitz’s one act play, ‘The Indian Wants the Bronx’, off Broadway at the Astor theater, that happened to be attended by Faye Dunaway.  Ms. Dunaway liked it so much, especially the mesmeric young man in the lead, that she went back – this time taking her manager Marty Bregman and her fiancé Jerry Schatzberg, who at the time was the hottest, coolest photographer in NYC. Schatzberg said of the young then unknown actor, “I was very impressed with his stage performance. And then we went backstage and I was even more impressed with the real Pacino. The difference between him on the stage and backstage was remarkable. And we got along very well.”

Marty Bregman, a Gatsby-esque character who carried a pearl handled revolver, immediately signed Pacino with the immortal words; ‘ I’m not going to make you a star, you are a star.’ Bregman had been developing a screenplay with Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne. He thought this was the perfect vehicle for Pacino, and Schatzberg should direct.  “I went up to [manager Marty Bregman’s], we had some business to do and Marty said, ‘There’s a script you ought to read. I think it’s very good.’ I said, ‘What’s it called?’ And he told me, PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK. He said, ‘Al’s interested.’ I said, ‘Oh, well you should have said that first.’”

This was Pacino’s first starring role, and where he demonstrated his immense screen charisma for the first time. As petty thief and heroin addict Bobby, Pacino creates chaos around him, never flinching from all manner of unsympathetic and uncompromising behavior. And yet Pacino completely seduces the audience with his character, whatever he does on screen. This is Pacino’s secret weapon; onscreen he can kill his sister, or his brother – whomever – and you still empathize and understand what his character is going through.

Al Pacino’s life changed in a major way after THE GODFATHER was released; “Anonymity, sweet pea, the light of my life, my survival tool – that’s gone now.” Pacino wanted something different – to get back to his roots. He read Garry Michael White’s screenplay for SCARECROW- “The character I would be playing, a wanderer who went by the name of Lion, was a little crazy and silly. He was a poor kid who didn’t have anybody and I loved that fragility in the character.” Gene Hackman was the co-star. Pacino and Gene Hackman play free-thinking sailor Lion and hot-tempered ex-con Max – two drifters from wildly different backgrounds who become friends and travel across America. Schatzberg said; “I get a call one day from my agent, ‘Al wants you to read the script.’ And Al said, ‘We’ve got this script, both Hackman and I like it. We want to do it, but neither one of us like the director.’ Schatzberg came onboard, called in Vilmos Zsigmond, the legendary DP, and the film won the Grand Prix at Cannes and was promptly forgotten – such was the giant wake of THE GODFATHER. THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK and SCARECROW are essential New Hollywood landmarks superbly directed by Schatzberg with dark poetry, naturalism and stunning performances from Pacino.”

-Bernard Rose

SAT JUN 1, 2024

5:00 PM


$15.00 (members-only)

Egyptian Theatre | Q&A with filmmaker Jerry Schatzberg and actor Al Pacino. Moderated by filmmaker Bernard Rose

‘Bleak Week: Cinema of Despair – Year 3’ and ‘Dark Poetry: Two Films by Jerry Schatzberg and Al Pacino’

Read More about SCARECROW
SUN JUN 2, 2024

7:30 PM


$15.00 (members-only)

Aero Theatre | Q&A with filmmaker Jerry Schatzberg and actor Al Pacino. Moderated by filmmaker Bernard Rose.

‘Bleak Week: Cinema of Despair – Year 3’ and ‘Dark Poetry: Two Films by Jerry Schatzberg and Al Pacino’