If Vladimir and Estragon decided they'd got bored waiting, and just took off down the road for some adventures, the result might look like this.
Jerry Shatzberg's Scarecrow, from 1973, is a stunningly made movie, now restored and re-released, with Gene Hackman and Al Pacino giving the performances of their lives as two drifters who team up in the hope of setting up a carwash business in Pittsburgh. In his Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind said Scarecrow was part of a body of 1970s work which was of "secondary" significance. That judgment looks way off. Scarecrow is simply a masterpiece of the American new wave, a rangy, freewheeling tragicomedyin which Hackman and Pacino give effortlessly charismatic performances. Max (Hackman) has just been released from prison; he's itching to start the business he's been dreaming about in the joint – and all too obviously itching to get into another of the fights that put him in prison in the first place. Francis (Pacino) has been away at sea, sending money home to the mother of his child and now, muddled and penitent, he yearns to visit them. It's a wonderfully muted performance from Pacino: Dustin Hoffman would have cranked it up far higher. The guys ride the boxcars; they get drunk and laid and into trouble. They even wind up in prison – briefly. And their chaotic, fragile friendship is all that they have. This is a jewel of American cinema.
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