I recently re-watched Jerry Schatzberg’s film Scarecrow (1973) this week after having not seen it in a couple years. In my opinion, this winner of the grand prize at Cannes hasn’t lost any of the poignancy and relevance that defined it four decades ago.
The film follows two bums, Max (Gene Hackman) and Lion (Al Pacino), on a cross-country road trip to Pittsburgh PA to open a deluxe car wash together. Each man has very unique motivations and ideas about this so called “dream”. But what makes the film poignant today is how subtly and carefully Schatzberg has charted the demise of the American Dream within the confines of the films narrative (using set dressing and framing as his two strongest tactics). Max and Lion are too late for their dreams, but they don’t know it.
I’ve seen a lot of road movies and even more American films of the 1970s that deal with the end of the American Dream, but this one has a quiet splendor and honesty films of most genres lack. That’s why I recommend you track down a copy and view this film over the weekend.