For proof of how much the film industry has changed over the past four decades, one need look no further than Jerry Schatzbergâs "Scarecrow," which won the Palme dâOr in Cannes 40 years ago this month. The enigmatically open-ended road movie returns to New York screens May 17, digitally restored, for a one-week run at the Film Forum.
Greenlighted by Warner Bros. as an alternative to faltering big-budget fare, the pic featured Gene Hackman (then hot off "The Poseidon Adventure") and Al Pacino (in between "The Godfather" and "Serpico") as drifters who dream big, hatching a plan to open a car wash together once they reach Pittsburgh.
âIt takes place 30 years later, and it basically deals with the boy they thought was dead,â says Schatzberg, who sent the script to Pacino a couple weeks back. âNow these guys have a very successful car wash. Hackman is married to Frenchy, and they have an adopted daughter. Sheâs Asian, and sheâs a pistol.â
While Schatzberg and Pacino remain friendly, Hackman has since withdrawn from acting. And though Alexander Payne tried to lure him out of retirement for "Nebraska," without success, Schatzberg had reason to hope: Hackman has called "Scarecrow" his favorite role.
âI actually went out to Santa Fe hoping Iâd run into him,â the director says. âI got myself a good case of the flu, but I didnât see Hackman.â
Alas, the reclusive actor has moved on, publishing several novels in recent years. âI think it is great that Jerry is writing a sequel,â he tells Variety. âWhile I do love that film, my 'Scarecrow' days are over.â
Even so, Schatzberg has a plan: âIf I see interest from Al, Iâll push for it. I can always fi nd another actor to fit in there .â