Welcome to New York City's 'Needle Park' - a world of pimps, thieves and junkies. Al Pacino, in his first major movie role, plays Bobby, a heroin addict who meets his clean girlfriend (Kitty Winn) and introduces her to a new strung-out world filled with young derelicts who steal, love, cheat, befriend and betray. A jungle, ruled by addiction and passion. Gutsy and compelling, Jerry Schatzberg's film was an instant star-maker for Pacino and his gut-wrenching performance helped land him the role of Michael Corleone in Coppola's The Godfather.
- This is probably one of Al Pacino's best films. I would say that it is even better then "The Godfather" because you almost want to reach out and help the characters but you can't. They all have the same problem. That problem is heroin addiction and it has caused a multitude of problems in their lives. This is a great film. It is usually not shown on television (I did see it on PBS a few years ago but I think that was a rare exception) I think however, because of its realistic content most stations try not to air it. If you can find it on video I highly recommend it.
- a piece of harsh life
A great film. Great by many aspects, truly sensitive actors that don't "act", 100% background sound recording that catches all the voices of the street, the vibrating quality of the film material . I saw this film first time when I was 15, year 1971. I was stunned, and I must say that in a way this film could have been made today. The way they walk slowly towards destruction that lies in front of them, like hypnotized. And the pain, mostly physical, you can touch it. Those days the narc streets where only a bit different than today, I think. The addicts were a bit older, today there are much more kids. Despite it's subject, a beautiful film.
- Great movie. Thank you
I think this movie as one of the most beautiful films of ever. I think that for more than one reason : for the first thing Al Pacino is my favourite actor, and in this movie he's simply at his best, he's cool and fast, reactive and thirty years in the future on the look. The co-protagonist, Helen, is wonderful and her look expressions fill the empty minutes of silence, you'll be attracted in a deep, magical and intimal atmosphere of love between her and Bobby. The story is simple as nice, true and there are no spectacular surprises, effects or a prevedible ending...just them, just looks, feelings, dynamics. The italian version is wonderful, my thanks to Ferruccio Amendola (Bobby's voice), he'll live with us forever. Thank you Al, thank you Helen, thank you.
- Haven't seen anything similar for years
The film is a real throwback to the 1970's. It captures the pervasive feeling of nihilism perfectly well, particularly on the subject of drugs.
The not so great colour and sound strangely add to the experience in making the film seem more documentary than a tale of two young people caught in the vortex of addiction.
Pacino and Winn both play remarkably believable leads.
It may not be an uplifting experience to watch the film, but in watching it, you cannot help feeling that it's a privilage to watch such mastery of directing and acting.
- A street level exercise in decay and survival.
The Panic In Needle Park is a gritty, often uncomfortable 110 mins in the company of lowlifes, pimps, prostitutes and dope addicts. *Possible Spoilers* The film itself is quite uncompromising, no morals, no redemption, just a street living couple who cannot decide whether they love smack or one another more. No doubt if this film was made today we'd have the rehabilitation programme and the tearful reunion once the two protagonists were 'clean' and ready to rejoin society. However, this is not for this film. The Panic In Needle Park is decidedly bleak, and offers us a slice of reality that not many of us see from our normal suburban lives. Jerry Schatzberg directs this movie with a documentary feel, and this, coupled with outstanding performances by Pacino and Winn, gives a very natural, flowing experience. Where Schatzberg did so well and many directors fail is in giving the viewer well sketched characters that you will genuinely get to know and empathize with, as you watch them flush their lives down the toilet. Of course it helps if you have Pacino and Winn playing them, and they really breathe life into the tragic lives of Bobby and Helen. Definitely one worth watching, unless you are depressed or have an aversion to seeing lengthy shots of half dead people putting dirty needles in their veins. But then I doubt heroin addiction is as hip as a sharp suited John Travolta jacking up and listening to cool tunes in Pulp Fiction.
- Blistering tale of love and pain
This afternoon, the Fox Movie Channel ran the trailer for The Panic in Needle Park. I was intrigued, and when the movie followed (uncut--accept nothing else) I watched. I am still stunned. This livid, documentary-style look at a faction of society that most people prefer to ignore of simply lock up is a brutal and powerful piece of cinema.
It is a film devoid of simple black and white categorizations. Bobby and Helen, deeply in love and deeply addicted to smack, are not bad people; rather they are people in a very bad situation--screwed up, screwed over, strung out, and doing whatever they can to survive. We watch as they go from "just chipping" to crippling, $80-a-day dependency. They steal, deal, hook, and shoot the profits into a scarred vein. A tone of bleak, tragic inevitability infuses their lives and the film. We care about them, but all we can do is watch; there are no offers of help, no outstretched hands. In an extremely telling moment, Helen says she wants to move out of Needle Park, to which Bobby simply responds, "It's where I live."
Panic has such a natural, improvisational feel that those existing on a diet of super-glossy cash-cow cinema may be put off. It is only slightly more polished than Andy Warhol's Trash, which it resembles by turns--from the camera that loses focus and trembles ever so slightly to the close-ups of needles sliding into veins. The gritty city is perfectly captured, with a tremendous atmosphere of desperation and misfortune. As Bobby, Al Pacino is marvelous (as usual), but I was really impressed by Kitty Winn in the role of Helen. I'd only seen her in The Exorcist, where she was mostly relegated to the background. Here, her portrayal is gut-wrenching, courageous, and unforgettable. I can say without a doubt, Needle Park is a must-see. It may not be pretty, but it's life.
- deeply disturbing
This is one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. It is very real and grisly looking, not polished with the horrible artificial lighting you see nowadays in films. Bobby and Helen are addicts whose lives are going nowhere, they just can't get out of their destructive lifestyle. The scenes of the characters shooting up, tricking, and hanging in the brutal streets of 1970's New York are very realistic. Makes "Trainspotting" look like a Disney cartoon.
- very affecting
It seems the more bold, unconventional, uncompromising, realistic, creative films I see from the 60's/70's "renaissance" of new filmmakers, the more angry and depressed I get at this day and age (and the last 2 decades!) So many films were made in that time that would simply be so IMPOSSIBLE to make in the present day (at least via a half-way decent source of studio financing and distribution) It makes me constantly feel like Peter Finch in "Network" "I'm MAD AS HELL and I"m not going to take it anymore!!!" About "Panic", I'd really like to make mention of Kitty Wynn's wonderful performance, there is an opening shot in this film with her sullen, drained, wretchedly-depressed looking face, as she's clinging to a pole on a subway train, in some sort of downtrodden, post-strung out anxiety. It sets the tone perfectly for this film, it's too bad Kitty was so typecast in horror films following this (not that she didn't at least do some outstanding horror films) but she seems to have retired from acting in the late 70's. And Pacino was absolutely perfect, so believable it was scary. There was so much passion and so many idea's from 'artists' back in that time. What happened to it? It may be a psychotic point of view, but I don't think life was supposed to continue past 1983, I think we were supposed to perish in a nuclear holocaust or something.
- The film is a winner. In this day an age of lukewarm, banal 70's retro chic it's nice to see the real thing. Al Pacino turns in a naturalistic speedball performance, and as a slice of New York grunge it's pretty damn fine. If you want plots though buy an allotment. But, you do get to follow various drugged out cats through the scuzzball minutia of their lives, and among the grimy spoons, and zesty needlework there is even time for a few low key gags. I think it is a minor 70's classic. Not for everyone's tastes, but if you like The King Of Marvin Gardens, and the strange dabblings of Paul Morrisey & co you will dig it. It is obvious that both Kids/Another Day In Paradise and Drugstore Cowboy are very much in its debt.
Cast overview, first billed only:
Al Pacino .... Bobby
Kitty Winn .... Helen, Bobby's Girlfriend/Mrs. Rogers
Alan Vint .... Narcotics Detective Hotch
Richard Bright .... Hank the Burgler/Bobby's Brother
Kiel Martin .... Chico, Junkie
Michael McClanathan .... Sonny, Junkie
Warren Finnerty .... Sammy, Junkie
Marcia Jean Kurtz .... Marcie
Raul Julia .... Marco, Junkie Artist
Angie Ortega .... Irene
Larry Marshall .... Mickey, Junkie
Paul Mace .... Whitey
Nancy MacKay .... Penny
Gil Rogers .... Robins
Joe Santos .... Detective DiBono
From a novel of the same name by James Mills
Runtime: 105 min
Color: Color (DeLuxe)
With a crystal clear picture, this video plays on all North American vcrs.
All Pacino and Kitty Winn play these parts as if they lived them. Stunning.