Max (Hackman), a large and combative ex-con, is fresh out of prison, and Lion (Pacino) a slight, mousey younger man who has just gotten out of the merchant marine, when they meet on the road. The pair hook up on a journey east -- thumbing, riding the rails, working odd jobs. Lion is looking to meet the progeny of a pregnant girlfriend he ditched in Detroit five years before, Max to open a car wash with his carefully hoarded prison pay in Pittsburgh. The prototypical loner Max decides to let Lion join him as a business partner, and the story becomes like "Of Mice and Men" in the era and milieu of "Midnight Cowboy" -- seemingly aimless and slow at first but picking up speed and conviction over time. The title refers to Lion's theory that scarecrows don't actually scare birds, but humor them into leaving fields alone; though a fun-loving naif, he teaches Max to defuse volatile situations with humor instead of violence. Eileen Brennan, Penny Allen, Richard Lynch and others turn up in supporting roles, but this largely forgotten and highly underrated dramatic film belongs to its two stars. It won the Golden Palm at Cannes in 1973, and Hackman has said in interviews that it is his favorite work.
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The review of this Movie prepared by David Loftus