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The Panic In Needle Park [DVD]

4.2 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Actors: Al Pacino, Kitty Winn, Alan Vint, Richard Bright, Kiel Martin
  • Directors: Jerry Schatzberg
  • Writers: James Mills, Joan Didion, John Gregory Dunne
  • Producers: Dominick Dunne, Roger M. Rothstein
  • Format: PAL
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Ilc
  • DVD Release Date: 12 April 2005
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00006G9YD
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,479 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

Gritty drama starring Al Pacino as a man whose heroin addiction drags him and his girlfriend into the seediest recesses of the drug underworld. Bobby (Pacino) is a young heroin addict and occasional pusher who frequents New York's 'Needle Park', home to a number of other addicts and dealers. One day he stumbles across Helen (Kitty Winn), a homeless girl in need of direction after a botched abortion, and the pair begin a relationship. Unfortunately for Helen, for all the intensity of their romance there is only one direction in which Bobby can lead her - down the path to addiction and eventual betrayal.

Review

Raw, Gritty Stuff --DVD Verdict --This text refers to an alternate DVD edition.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Like many people I bought this DVD as an Al Pacino completist. For that, you get everything you want for your money - he is on top form, playing an absolute black sheep of a character who you still root for. But he's not just affable and sympathetic, he also effortlessly gives what could have been a very difficult role a kind of emotional weight and resonance that you feel long after watching it. The other actors are solid and convincing without ever trying to upstage him (few actors can do that anyway). I felt myself genuinely feeling for the characters (and their poor little puppy).
Without Pacino this would be a decent 3 star sort of movie. But Pacino gives it aggro and intensity, the like of which you just don't see often enough in movies these days. He's one of those rarities, just shining his very unique light wherever he goes. And I really enjoy this sub-sub-genre sort of movie, a character movie inside a drugs movie inside a New-York-story kind of movie. Despite the fact that it deals with some pretty serious and heavy 'problems in society' I like watching it for the look and feel of the time. The clothes, styles, hairdo's and most of all gritty old New York during the 1970's, shown here for all it actually was rather than the sanitised and very often glamourous false image it is still often given. If you're looking for a disco-era weren't-the-seventies-funny movie look elsewhere!
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This recently re-released film is interesting in that it heralds the arrival on the big screen of Al Pacino, but also in the fact that Schatzberg's film is a pioneer in its depiction of drug addiction, which when seen in context of the time, really is an achievement on every level. This film offers no glamorisation and the escapism of populist 70s drug films, yet it also avoids sensationalism and overt melodrama, with its depiction of a simple relationship torn apart. It is easy to see how Pacino caught the attention of Coppola here, developing the alertness and depth of character which he was to develop under the following film and his subsequent career, yet this is not an easy film to watch. It is at times both gruelling and relentless, but when dealing with the subject that it does, and with such fantastic performances from both its leads, this is a film to grab while you can.
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Format: DVD
Before watching "The Panic in Needle Park" I had lots of lofty expectations due to at least two reasons: First, this is Al Pacino's first feature length film and his performance as an appealing but self-absorbed addict took Coppola's interest and elevated him "Godfather" stardom. "Panic" gave him enough chance to show his charisma, talent and depth as an actor. Second, being a controversial film in its day, this was the first time that an "urban addiction drama" hit the screen. In this sense, "Panic" can be seen as a precursor, or a perfect template later used by more flamboyant, graphic-intensive pictures like "Drugstore Cowboy", "Trainspotting", "Requiem for a Dream" and even "Gia".

The film focuses on the ups and downs of two doomed souls, Bobby and Helen, who wasted their lives in a downward spiral into hell without any realistic thought for tomorrow. The meaning of life is just to score, shoot, and survive, nothing more. The performances of Al Pacino and Kitty Winn are top notch. The role earned Winn the Best Actress Award at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival. But contrary to strong individual performances, I found the romantic chemistry between them weak.

"Panic" has a bittersweet taste of an independent film: improvisational, free-form and razor-sharp realistic. There is no music throughout the film, only dialogues and real life sounds. It tastes like a stale cigarette. Depressive mood and sordidness of Manhattan's Upper West Side are reflected perfectly. Intense and disturbing depiction of heroine shots are almost documentary nature. Thankfully, there are no Hollywood sappiness to undermine the film's effectiveness. Schatzberg did a good job by not cuing viewer's moods, just letting the picture tell the story.
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As an intimate observer of the junkie scene (but not a participant) back in the late 60s and early 70s I rate this film as pretty authentic. The lack of glamour, the paranoia, the squalor and futility is all captured here. This was one of the early method acting productions and a fine example of cinema's attempt to relinquish the clichéd norms of the Hollywood era.
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I love this era in New York. Urban decay, cold, shabby flats, depressing neighbourhoods where characters struggle to survive. The lack of music makes the story feel like a documentary. Pacino is playful, charismatic and doomed, Kitty Winn is beautiful, abused and desperate. No redemption, just harrowing times.

Despite the hopelessness of the subject matter, it makes for a moving film. You feel sad that these things go on.
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Purchased from UK as title was not available in the US at the time. This movie has always been a favorite of mine. The performances are excellent but what draws me to this movie in the New York scene. I grew up on the upper west side and seeing NY then compared to how the neighborhood has changed, especially what was "needle park" then makes this movie even more special for me.
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