GOD HELP BOBBY AND HELEN. THEY’RE IN LOVE IN NEEDLE PARK.
This film and Scarecrow (1973), both directed by Jerry Schatzberg, are pretty much companion pieces, stark depictions of people most would look down on. Both are raw, genuine and feature outstanding acting, but fall short when it comes to emotional impact (at least to some of us). We are introduced to life in “Needle Park”, which is Sherman Square in NYC, where drug addicts do business; two of them are a small-time hustler and a comparatively wide-eyed girl (Al Pacino, Kitty Winn) who fall in love. It goes downhill from there. Incredibly strong performances by the leads helps one put up with their hopeless characters.
1971-U.S. 110 min. Color. Produced by Dominick Dunne. Directed by Jerry Schatzberg. Screenplay: Joan Didion, John Gregory Dunne. Novel: James Mills. Cast: Al Pacino (Bobby), Kitty Winn (Helen), Alan Vint (Hotch), Richard Bright, Kiel Martin, Michael McClanathan… Raul Julia, Paul Sorvino.
Trivia: Robert De Niro and Mia Farrow were allegedly considered for the leads.
Cannes: Best Actress (Winn).
Last word: “I turned that down at first because of all the drugs in it, but afterwards my manager told me Al was interested. I really wanted to work with him, so I went back to the producers and told them how foolish I was. They really liked my first film and my photo work, so we were still able to close a deal. After I signed they told me I couldn’t use Pacino […] I told everyone ‘The reason I’m doing this film is to work with Pacino,’ and after a bunch of charades it worked out and I got to bring him in.” (Schatzberg, Revel in New York)