It has been over a decade since Jerry Schatzberg directed his last feature film (that would be 2000’s “The Day The Ponies Came Back” starring Guillaume Canet) and even longer since he actually helmed a feature of note. And yet, one could argue that it speaks to the power of a trio of his early films that his name still sparks interest in cinephiles. His debut feature “Puzzle Of A Downfall Child” got restored and reassessed at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, while the director’s followup, the Al Pacino starring grimy drama “The Panic In Needle Park” is a still potent look at drug addiction. But it’s “Scarecrow,” re-teaming Schatzberg and Pacino, with Gene Hackman co-starring, that remains a cult favorite and underappreciated gem. And Schatzberg wants another bite at the apple.
To recap, the 1973 movie is the kind of character movie they don’t make anymore, complex Cannes Film Festival winning film about two drifters who share the road and their dreams as they trek across the country. The film was a box office flop, and the word is that it tanked so hard, that afterwards Hackman put his energy toward more commercially viable movies. But the cult around the movie has grown, with many now catching up with the unique picture that is certainly one of the finest in a decade already strong with classic American films. And Schatzberg wants to continue the story.
As he told THR at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, the new movie will find Lion (Pacino), now an educated computer geek, running a car wash with Max (Hackman), the latter of whom is married with an adopted kid from China. But Lion gets a surprise when his son, previously thought to be dead at the end of the first film, appears. Okay, so he’s got the story, but what about making it? At 86 years old, Schatzberg is facing an uphill battle and not just with his age.
“It’s not their kind of film,” the director said about Warner Bros. interested in the movie, and he’s not even sure he could afford Pacino at this point. “Al, while he can, wants to make as much money as he can.” And then there is the little matter of Hackman basically being retired. But none of this phases Schatzberg, who says new actors could take on the roles.
“The story is what’s interesting, not the actors,” he said, adding: “…But it’s a good story, it’s a touching story. It’s funny.” But he realizes in the current climate, at least in the studio system, getting the movie made likely won’t happen. “I don’t make big box office films, and that’s what counts with studios. They’re only interested in how much money you make,” he conceded.
So yeah, it’s a longshot, but an interesting one. Your thoughts? Does “Scarecrow” need a followup?