Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1973. Warner Bros.. Screenplay by Garry Michael White. Cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond. Produced by Robert M. Sherman. Music by Fred Myrow. Production Design by Albert Brenner. Costume Design by Jo Ynocencio. Film Editing by Evan A. Lottman. Cannes Film Festival 1973.
Two top-notch performances are the biggest draw to this odd but satisfying drama. Gene Hackman has just been released from prison and is planning to go to Pittsburgh and open up a car wash business there. Al Pacino has just returned from years in the Navy and is on his way to reunite with his wife and see the child who was born while he was away. The two become drifting partners on the road, experiencing curious adventures, with one’s violent style constantly running rampant against the other’s loopier sense of humour. Seeing Pacino play a Masina-esque clown is definitely something his fans haven’t gotten enough of in his drama-laden career, a charismatic side of him that should have been capitalized more on in the years that followed. Hackman, playing a darker version of his tough-guy self, also excels as the dangerously likeable thug whose quick temper can’t keep him out of trouble. Although sometimes unpleasant, and grimly photographed, the film does have rays of light in the way its characters bond and become protective of each other, as well as in the wonderful supporting cast led by Ann Wedgeworth and the always fascinating Penelope Allen.