- Actors: Al Pacino, Kitty Winn, Alan Vint
- Directors: Jerry Schatzberg
- Format: Color, Limited Edition
- Language: English
- Region: All Regions
- Number of discs: 1
- Rated: Parental Guidance SuggestedPG
- Average Customer Review: 98 customer reviews
- ASIN: B01H7MXVEU
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The Panic in Needle Park
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Al Pacino made his extraordinary starring début as Bobby, a fast-talking, hustling junkie in The Panic in Needle Park (1971), directed by Jerry Schatzberg from a screenplay by the distinguished screenwriting team of Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne. Roaming a grim stretch of New York’s Upper West Side, Bobby hooks up with a relative innocent, Helen (Kitty Winn), and as she joins him in addiction, their doomed romance becomes the fulcrum around which this gritty slice-of-life drama turns. LANGUAGE: English VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 1.85:1 AUDIO: English 1.0 DTS-HD MA SUBTITLES: English SDH 1971 / Color 109 MINUTES RATED PG Special Features: Isolated Score Track (featuring Unused Music Composed and Conducted by Ned Rorem) / Panic in the Streets of New York / Writers in Needle Park / Notes on Ned Rorem’s Unused Score / Original Theatrical Trailer Limited Edition of 3,000 Units
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We get a cold slice of the seedier side of 1970s New York right about when Gotham was approaching rock bottom. Heroin was very much embedded in the day-to-day and we're invited to join the Needle Park crew on their downward spiral. Pacino and Winn could easily have won Oscars for their performances but mainstream America wasn't ready to deal with this whole drug issue back in the early 1970's, hell, it's still great taboo almost 50 years later. The movie's starkness, documentary feel really makes it a compelling work. There's no need for a soundtrack, think about it: what dope addict is listening to music? There is no gratuitous overdose death or personal tragedy leading to increased drug dependence. Producer Schatzberg gives the raw, hard facts - stealing an appliance, the ups and downs of trying to score smack, hiding the stash, end-of-the-world freaking out when dope or dough gets stolen, the prep work to shoot up, the cardinal sin of sharing junk, pawning hot goods, tricking, bulls***ting cops and family, hustling, short stints in the can and so on and so on and so on. All the things that, when combined, lead to one or both feet in the grave. And all accurate.
If you want to have some fun, if "fun" is the correct word, watch Quentin Tarantino's overdose recovery scene in Pulp Fiction and juxtapose it against the same scene in Needle Park that QT lifted it from. I still giggle (not in a derisive way) at the Pulp Fiction version. Amateur hour in the wannabe gangster life. That said, there was nothing remotely funny about the reactions of the Needle Park crew - someone OD'ing in their personal space could have been a drastic tip of the scale of life. Desperation at its greatest multiple.
The DVD itself is as bare to the bone as the movie. Don't expect any voiceovers, director's commentary, cute outtakes, etc. Just a movie trailer extra which in itself was awesome and a throwback.
Great movie, great topic, great direction, great acting (we don't have to endure Pacino screaming a third of the time - crikey, he's so good why does he feel compelled to shout his lines?). I am not reaching when I write that this is a classic and carries as powerful a punch as anything put to film.
I couldn't believe after I read more about why this film is so special, that I did not realize there is absolutely no music in it! I was around when "Panic" debuted in 1971. But I was at a point in my life when movies were way, way on the back burner. As a matter of fact, during the late 60's I lived on 71st and Broadway. What made me want to seek out the film in the 21st Century was to see more Jerry Schatzberg's work after seeing "Reunion."
Another thing to keep your eye out on is how the face of Pacino and Kitty change from scene to scene. Sometimes they literally don't even "look like themselves." A few times I swore they were stand-ins they looked so different. Then, I figured it was a subtle way to show how the drug transformed them into different people, that matched how they changed when they were or were not under the influence.
to superstardom in the now iconic GODFATHER and it's sequels.
This movie, "Panic In Needle Park" was actually based on an off-broadway play
in which Pacino played this character along with his then girlfriend, Kitty Winn,
who also plays in this movie as his love interest as well.
By the time Pacino did this, his first film, he had already did plenty of plays and
recieved a few prestigious theatre accolades, so he was already known as a very special
up & coming talent in New York City film circles.
What you get here is a raw, hungry, lean and unpolished Pacino playing
a small time theif/hustler and heroin junkie who eeks his way out in the
rough & tumble streets of dirty early 70's NYC by any means he can!
He meets and befreind's a woman, played by his then girlfriend, Kitty Winn,
who is kind of green to the ways of the streets, but she is soon seduced by heroin
and Pacino's character's gritty charm, and soon both of them spiral into an abyss
of addiction, street life, sex, some violence, and Pacino's character is so low
that he even pimps out his girlfriend a few times to get money for drugs!
After a bad incident involving a cute puppy, the Staten Island Ferry, and the Hudson River,
she finally wakes up and sees that her boyfreind isn't her knight in shining armour,
but an opportunistic, drug-crazed, desperate sleaze-ball who would sell his grandmother
for a hit of heroin! She agrees with undercover cops who have her on prostitution charges
to have him set up and arrested in exchange for her freedom.
It works, and he is apprehended and serves time.
But in true co-dependent fashion, she still loves him, and shows up on the day
he's released from prison to cling to his side again! (Silly Broad!)
Like I said, this is a cool film to see Al Pacino's evolution as one of the greatest
actors of the last 50 yrs. He gives it to you cold & raw in this with no apologies!