Before Scarecrow's meandering, but enjoyable, "odd couple" plot takes a melodramatic turn at the end, the film is an engrossing and delightful character study. The meandering is not a negative in this instance; the mismatched buddies are themselves drifters, wandering through their lives in search of meaning and purpose. Very much a product of its times, Scarecrow is dated, but not in a bad way. It comes across as a snapshot, both of the mood of the country at the time and of the "free" style of filmmaking that flourished briefly as new directors played with new styles and new themes. Scarecrow is not as consciously experimental as other works from the same period, but its willingness to linger over the quirks and oddities of its two main characters is fairly unusual. Jerry Schatzberg gives the proceedings a rueful atmosphere, helped immensely by Vilmos Zsigmond's evocative and subtly stunning cinematography. But the film's biggest asset is its cast. Gene Hackman and Al Pacino have rarely been better. Hackman uses his curious combination of world weariness and hidden explosiveness to very good effect, and, at times, he dominates the film. Pacino sneaks up on the viewer more, turning in a performance that is more nuanced and much less explosive than is usually his wont. It's a remarkably fine piece of acting. The supporting cast is also quite good, with especially notable work from Richard Lynch, Eileen Brennan and Penelope Allen.