New York City, circa 1970. Bobby (Al Pacino) and Helen (Kitty Winn) meet and fall in love. He’s a native New Yorker; she’s from Indiana. He’s streetwise, a small-time criminal who has done jail time and dabbled in “hard” drugs. She’s not an innocent: She’s been living with artist Marco (Raul Julia), has been smoking a lot of pot with him, and has just had an abortion (illegal at the time; Marco called in a favor). Bobby and Helen move in together to Bobby’s seedy rented room in Sherman Square, a small stretch of grass and benches on NYC’s upper west side that the junkies who’ve made it their hangout refer to as Needle Park… –DVDVerdict
Born In the Bronx, New York. He attended the University of Miami, worked as assistant to Bill Helburn (1954-1956); then started his career as a freelance photographer. His Fashion photography has been published in magazines such as Vogue, McCalls, Esquire, Glamour, Town and Country, And Life. After directing some TV commercials, he made his debut as a film director in 1970 with “Puzzle of a Downfall Child”, the story of a fashion model. Schatzberg scored with his second directorial effort, the gripping, finely acted “The Panic in Needle Park”(1971), a bleak study of heroin addiction starring Al Pacino. Pacino costarred with Gene hackman in his next film, “scarecrow” (1973), a moody tale of two drifters which in many ways is an apotheosis of 70’s alienation and confusion. Perhaps significantly, Schatzberg’s critical following in the United States rose and fell with the 70’s; after 1979’s “Seduction of Joe Tynan”, the trend in Hollywood shifted from small introspective films to the Spielberg… read more
was watching Van Sant's Drugstore Cowboy the other day and was wondering : do we really need this ? or Candy, Spun & co. for that matter. None of these films improve anything "Panic in..." has done. It's the ultimate drug addiction movie, and every attempt to top it feels formulaic and self aggrandizing
The most haunting moment in the film is when Helen (Played by the soon-to-disappear Kitty Winn, who was rated #76 greatest film portrayals of all time) looks at Bobby, who's moments away from shooting up, and after having said, "Walk away, Helen. I'm trash", she replies with, "I can leave whenever I want to. But, I don't want to". Helen and Bobby, addicted to drugs, but addicted to each other. Addicting performances
As naturalistic, gritty, and realistic as any film about New York in the 70s and drug addiction. You can tell why this was Pacino's breakthrough role but the real mystery is why Kitty Winn who indeed walks away with the film with a less showy role was not as lucky in the movie business. Great time capsule of a city in decline (Sherman Square is unrecognizable) and also a great actor's career before it exploded.
For this short roundup of events launching from today throughout the weekend, I want to begin with one happening on Sunday, City Scherzos