Review: ‘The Panic in Needle Park’

The Panic in Needle Park
Photo by Moviestore/REX/Shutterstock

The Panic in Need le Park is a total triumph. Gritty, gutsy, compelling, and vivid to the point of revulsion, it is an overpowering tragedy about urban drug addiction. Director Jerry Schatzberg in only his second film becomes a major talent, while Al Pacino and Kitty Winn are terrific as a heroin-doomed couple.

The Panic in Need le Park is a total triumph. Gritty, gutsy, compelling, and vivid to the point of revulsion, it is an overpowering tragedy about urban drug addiction. Director Jerry Schatzberg in only his second film becomes a major talent, while Al Pacino and Kitty Winn are terrific as a heroin-doomed couple.

 

Dominick Dunne produced on the streets of NY a drama so real that the persons and situations seem to have been caught in a documentary. James Mills’ novel has been superbly adapted. The dialog is raw and uncompromising, yet artistic in its tragic-sardonic-ironic context.

 

Winn, introduced as a post-abortion discard of artist Raul Julia, takes up with Pacino, a drug pusher whose pretense of non-addiction soon fades away. She learns, and fast, the ropes of a strung-out world filled with young derelicts who steal, love, cheat, befriend and betray. This world is a jungle, ruled by instinctive addiction and passion, and it’s just around everyone’s corner now.

 

Pacino, after a brief mannered introduction, settles into his key role with terribly effective results. Winn is smash.

The Panic in Needle Park

Production

20th Century-Fox. Director Jerry Schatzberg; Producer Dominick Dunne; Screenplay Joan Didion, John Gregory Dunne; Camera Adam Holender; Editor Evan Lottman; Art Director Murray P. Stern

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1971. Running time: 110 MIN.

With

Al Pacino Kitty Winn Alan Vint Richard Bright Kiel Martin Michael McClanathan
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