Drug abuse movies can be hard to take, but this compelling drama has a superior screenplay (by Joan Didion and her husband John Gregory Dunne) and sensational performances from young Al Pacino and Kitty Winn.
Pacino is the cheeky bad boy (he’s a drug addict and dealer) and Winn the nice, sweet girl (recovering from a botched abortion) who is irresistibly drawn to him.
Together their youthful dabbling drags them down into heroin addiction and a harrowing spiral of squalor and loathing as a short supply of narcotics leads to tension on the streets.
Pacino’s electrifying presence here convinced Francis Ford Coppola to fight enormous studio resistance to the unknown New Yorker and cast him as Michael Corleone in The Godfather (1972).
Look out for Raul Julia and Paul Sorvino.
Marcia Jean Kurtz