Post-film conversation with director Jerry Schatzberg, moderated by Ernie Manouse of Houston Public Media
“One of the quintessential expressions of early 1970s American cinema, Jerry Schatzberg’s second feature centers around a fragile woman who has been set adrift by recent trauma and overly dependent relationships. Shot on location in a wintry and desolate New York City, The Panic in Needle Park offers an undaunted and fascinating vision of the secret world of drug addicts. The film features an electrifying Al Pacino—in his first starring role—as a small-time hustler and addict, and newcomer Kitty Winn as a naive Midwesterner enraptured by his energetic charm.
“A poetic and deeply touching love story, The Panic in Needle Park is also 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.” —Harvard Film Archive