After being dumped by her scumbag boyfriend and procuring an abortion, a naïve young woman (Kitty Winn) takes up with a heroin addicted street hustler (Al Pacino) who hangs out in the titularly dubbed Upper West Side neighborhood where other addicts congregate. Soon she herself is using, whoring herself out, and fighting drug charges with her new beau. Jerry Schatzberg’s The Panic in Needle Park, with a screenplay by Joan Didion and John Gregory Dunne from a novel by James Mills, seems to really know and understand its urban junkie turf, but suffers from its own persistence at realism and grows incredibly wearisome after a while. Pacino is strong and completely credible in his debut leading screen performance and Winn, unfortunately, is not.
** 1/2 out of ****