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November 19 – November 22

The Cinematic Portraits of Jerry Schatzberg

Among the adventurous and talented artists who helped shape the Seventies renaissance of American cinema, Jerry Schatzberg (b.1927) is strangely underappreciated today. He remains best known for his first career as an influential still photographer whose fashion spreads for Vogue and Glamour, as well as countless iconic portraits of the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Catherine Deneuve and Andy Warhol (and the indelible cover image of Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde) brought a new edginess and spontaneity to celebrity portraits. Less recognized is the major contribution to New Hollywood made by Schatzberg’s equally influential feature films, and especially by his first three works – Puzzle of a Downfall Child, The Panic in Needle Park and Scarecrow. Intimate and remarkably intense character studies, Schatzberg’s early films embody the era’s movement toward personal, prismatic stories that refract the tumultuous cultural climate while also offering a more introverted variation of the fierce iconoclasm bred within the films of Robert Altman, Hal Ashby, Arthur Penn, et al. Together Puzzle of a Downfall Child, The Panic in Needle Park and Scarecrow offer sensitive, even affectionate, stories of deeply damaged, alienated characters struggling to survive the broken worlds they have made for themselves – a former model suffering a nervous breakdown in Downfall, increasingly desperate junkies buoyed by their urgent love in Panic and two hopeless drifters in Scarecrow. Schatzberg found equal critical acclaim for his two subsequent films, The Seduction of Joe Tynan and Honeysuckle Rose, but suffered a series of creative setbacks in the mid-1980s before making a stunning comeback with Reunion, a mature reflection on the lasting, lustrous power of adolescent relationships.

The Harvard Film Archive is pleased to welcome Jerry Schatzberg for a rare visit and a long overdue reevaluation of his films.

Special thanks: Bruce Goldstein; Paola Mojica; Julian Schlossberg; Caitlin Robertson, Fox.


Special Event Tickets $12
Friday November 19 at 7pm

The Panic in Needle Park

Directed by Jerry Schatzberg, Appearing in Person
With Al Pacino, Kitty Winn, Alan Vint
US 1971, color, 35mm, 110 min.

One of the quintessential expressions of early 1970s American cinema, Schatzberg’s second feature centers around a fragile woman who, like the characters its co-screenwriter Joan Didion’s early novels, has been set adrift by recent trauma and overly dependent relationships. Shot on location in a wintry and desolate New York City, Panic offers an undaunted and fascinating vision of the secret world of drug addicts with an electrifying Al Pacino – in his first starring role – as a small time hustler and addict and newcomer Kitty Winn as the naive Midwesterner enraptured by his energetic charm. Panic is both a poetic and deeply touching love story and a vivid, documentary-style rendering of the squalor and fear felt by addicts drifting like ghosts through the dirty flophouses, cheap diners and trash-strewn sidewalks of the Upper West Side. Eschewing a music track and any direct appeals to sentimentality, Schatzberg imbues the film with a verité quality that lends an air of wrenching, tragic inevitability to the doomed lovers’ tale.

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Special Event Tickets $12
Saturday November 20 at 7pm

Scarecrow

Directed by Jerry Schatzberg, Appearing in Person
With Gene Hackman, Al Pacino, Dorothy Tristan
US 1973, color, 35mm, 112 min.

Schatzberg’s endearing and picaresque road movie stars Al Pacino and Gene Hackman as a pair of down-and-out wanderers hitchhiking across the country and harboring a vaguely formed plan to open a car wash in Pittsburgh. Returning once again to wounded, marginalized characters floating on the ragged edge of American society, Schatzberg creates an indelible portrait of the rambling lives of vagrant dreamers. Working with famed cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, Schatzberg transforms the tumbleweed world of back roads, roadside bars and diners into a strikingly American landscape and poetic backdrop for his tale of male friendship.

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Sunday November 21 at 7pm

Puzzle of a Downfall Child

Directed by Jerry Schatzberg.
With Faye Dunaway, Barry Primus, Viveca Lindfors
US 1970, color, 35mm, 105 min.

Schatzberg drew inspiration from his background as a portrait photographer by using conversations with fashion model Anne Saint-Marie as a foundation for his engrossing story of a washed up model gradually losing hold on reality. Schatzberg’s first feature is a stylistic tour de fource that displays his consummate mastery of the medium, employing a fractured narrative style that freely intermingles flashbacks and fantasized events with the present and brilliantly manipulates the sound track to maximize the carefully calibrated sense of disorientation. In her revealing performance as the fragile model, Faye Dunaway strikingly personifies Schatzberg’s fascination with the disenfranchised that will extend to his subsequent films.

Monday November 22 at 7pm

Reunion

Directed by Jerry Schatzberg.
With Jason Robards, Samuel West, Christien Anholt
France/West Germany/UK 1989, color, 35mm, 110 min.

Adapted by Harold Pinter from Fred Ulhman’s autobiographical novella, Reunion uses the rise of Nazism in Germany in the 1930s to explore the destruction of personal relationships by historical forces. Depicting the achingly intimate friendship between two teenage boys – one Jewish, the other from an aristocratic family – Schatzberg gives equal attention to the intense adolescent bonding as its inevitable and tragic erosion by the winds of time and fate. As the now adult Jewish lawyer who fled to the U.S. before the war, Jason Robards delivers one of his finest performances as a man determined to confront the traumas of his past.

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