Scarecrow (1973)

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Released 1-Mar-2006

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Drama Main Menu Animation
Featurette-Making Of-On The Road With: Scarecrow
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1973
Running Time 107:41 (Case: 106)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (38:31) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Jerry Schatzberg
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Gene Hackman
Al Pacino
Dorothy Tristan
Ann Wedgeworth
Richard Lynch
Eileen Brennan
Penelope Allen
Richard Hackman
Al Cingolani
Rutanya Alda
Case ?
RPI ? Music Fred Myrow


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.45:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   The 1973 film Scarecrow is a relatively unknown film in the careers of Gene Hackman and Al Pacino. The film was made when both actors had already well established themselves as actors of considerable quality. Both of their films immediately prior to Scarecrow had been blockbusters (The Poseidon Adventure for Hackman and The Godfather for Pacino), but this, combined with the fact that Scarecrow was also the co-winner of the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 1973, did not save the film from box office failure and quiet obscurity.

    Two strangers stand in silence on opposite sides of a quiet country road and wait for a passing vehicle to hopefully stop and give them a ride.

    Max (Gene Hackman) is not long out of prison for bashing a man and is still prone to bursts of violence. He is travelling to Pittsburgh to start his own car wash business with a stash of money that he has managed to save.

    Lionel (Al Pacino) is an ex-sailor on a mission a deliver a present to his child, whom he has never seen. However he is unsure if the wife he abandoned will be all that pleased to see him. Lionel has a life philosophy that is the exact opposite to Max, in that he feels it is better to make people laugh than to fight.

   Max and Lionel strike up an unlikely friendship and Max decides to make Lionel a partner in his car wash. They make a deal to travel to Detroit first for Lionel to see his child, then they will move on to Pittsburgh to start up Maxy's Car Wash.

    Along the way they make a scheduled stop in Denver to visit Max's sister, Coley (Dorothy Tristan) and her business partner, Frenchy (Ann Wedgeworth). After a night out at a bar with the girls, a fight breaks out and Max assaults a policeman. Max and Lionel find themselves with a short, unscheduled stay in prison.

    Max and Lionel's friendship is tested in prison, but is confirmed definitively when Lionel is severely beaten by a fellow inmate, Jack Riley (Richard Lynch) for resisting his sexual advances. Before they leave the prison, Max makes sure he inflicts the same level of retribution on Riley.

    Lionel's fears are confirmed in a phone conversation when his wife says she has no desire to see him. Still in a rage over the circumstances of their separation, she relays to Lionel heartbreaking news about their child. He takes the news at face value, even though he has no proof of its truthfulness. In a seemingly carefree change of attitude, Lionel simply leaves the child's present on the bonnet of a car and walks off contentedly with Max. However, this flippant change in attitude masks some serious mental and emotional problems that are surfacing for Lionel. This will stretch Max and Lionel's alliance to the extremes and force their friendship to face its most pivotal test.

    Performances in Scarecrow are excellent all round, especially Hackman and Pacino. My only criticism of the film is that it tends to keep its audience at a distance, making emotional connection with the characters reasonably difficult. As such, the impact of the final scenes don't quite achieve the level of pathos required to make Scarecrow a really memorable film experience.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer for Scarecrow is of excellent quality.

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.45:1, 16x9 enhanced. The film's correct aspect ratio is 2.35:1.

    The transfer is remarkably sharp and clear for the most part, with just the occasional presence of film grain evident. Blacks were generally clean and deep, with shadows displaying a high level of detail.

    Colours were very natural and beautifully balanced, with absolutely no adverse saturation issues.

    There were no MPEG artefacts in this transfer. Film-to-video artefacts were very well controlled and did not present any issues. Film artefacts were also negligible.

    There is a good selection of subtitles available on this DVD, which are all clearly legible in bold white. The languages include English, English for the hearing impaired, Italian, Italian for the hearing impaired, French, Dutch, Arabic and Bulgarian.

    This DVD is a single sided, dual layer disc. The layer change occurs discreetly at 38:31 and is very well disguised.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer is basic, but quite good.

    There are three mono audio tracks available on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s), French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s) and Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s).

    Considering the mono origins of the audio track, dialogue quality was very good. I had no problems comprehending the dialogue throughout the film.

    Audio sync appeared to be excellent.

    The original music score by Fred Myrow has a pleasant blues and gospel mood. His original music score is blended with a mixture of uncredited music including The Stripper by Joe Loss & his Orchestra and In The Midnight Hour by Wilson Pickett.

    The surround channels and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    The selection of extras is very basic.

Menu

    The menu menu is static, 16x9 enhanced and features a sample of Fred Myrow's music from the film.

Featurette: On The Road With: Scarecrow (3:49)

    This very short film seems to have been made to promote Scarecrow in some way. It simply shows some behind-the-scenes footage of the director Jerry Schatzberg and actors preparing for certain scenes, with a narrator offering basic information.

Original Theatrical Trailer

    Scarecrow (3:09)

    The trailer has been nicely restored and is presented in the correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The R1 version of Scarecrow differs only marginally from this R2,4,5 version. Apart from the obvious PAL and NTSC differences, the variances are as follows:

    The R1 version misses out on:

    The reviewed R2,4,5 version misses out on:

    Unless the inclusion of Spanish subtitles is an issue, there seems no reason to track down the R1 version.

Summary

    Although a little disappointing in terms of emotional impact, Scarecrow is still worth seeing for the performances of Hackman and Pacino and also for Vilmos Zsigmond's superb widescreen cinematography.

    The video transfer is excellent.

    The audio transfer is basic, but good.

    The selection of extras is minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Steve Crawford (Tip toe through my bio)
Saturday, July 15, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDJVC XV-N412, using Component output
DisplayHitachi 106cm Plasma Display 42PD5000MA (1024x1024). Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationPanasonic SA-HE70 80W Dolby Digital and DTS
SpeakersFronts: Jensen SPX7 Rears: Jensen SPX4 Centre: Jensen SPX13 Subwoofer: Jensen SPX17

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