A pair of drifters (a young Al Pacino and a middle aged Gene Hackman) drift into each other while drifting in the countryside. They decide to drift together for a while, becoming close friends, with plans to settle in Pittsburgh and set up a car washing business.
Hackman and Pacino make a good pairing, playing well off each other, with highly authentic performance (the pair went begging in San Francisco in preparation). Pacino is the lighthearted, spontaneous joker Lionel, and Hackman is the no-nonsense, cigar-smoking, multi-layer-wearing ex-con Max. The misfit couple are like a Vladimir and Estragon for 1970s America as they travel towards their elusive destinations in this semi-road movie.
The drama takes some surprising turns and has a fairly bleak view of life. But the pair remain likable as they deal with life’s darker moments, even the jaded Max. The cinematography is superb, especially the opening shot of the American countryside which is the first of many long takes. It also has an excellent, Aretha Franklin-heavy soundtrack. The story looks at different attitudes and approaches to life in an always engaging way. This scarecrow certainly does have brains.