The Panic in Needle Park (1971) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Panic in Needle Park1971

The Panic in Needle Park (1971)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Movie Info

A couple loves heroin as much as they love each other in Jerry Schatzberg's grim drug drama. After an illegal abortion at the behest of her faithless lover (Raul Julia), lost innocent Helen (Kitty Winn) finds solace with small-time crook Bobby (Al Pacino), a regular in Manhattan's "Needle Park." As Bobby shows her around his Upper West Side world, the two become inseparable. When Helen realizes that Bobby is a full-blown junkie, she joins him in addiction, and their downward spiral begins in earnest. Weathering overdoses, prostitution, betrayals, and a "panic" after a major bust, the pair manages to stick together, the habit sealing their fate. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

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Al Pacino
as Bobby
Alan Vint
as Hotchner
Paul Mace
as Whitey
Gil Rogers
as Robins
Joe Santos
as DiBono
Paul Sorvino
as Samuels
Bryant Fraser
as Prep Schoolboy
Dora Weissman
as Pawnshop Lady
Florence Tarlow
as Ward Nurse
Rutanya Alda
as Admitting Nurse
Anthony Palmer
as Hotel Clerk
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News & Interviews for The Panic in Needle Park

Critic Reviews for The Panic in Needle Park

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (5)

Schatzberg doesn't romanticize addicts' troubles; with a tender but unsparing eye, he spins visual variations on shambling degradation and transient relief.

March 5, 2018 | Full Review…

The Panic in the Needle Park rolls up the drug culture's sleeve and picks at the scabs underneath.

May 9, 2007 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

A gruelling but highly responsible film about the influence of heroin on a New York street romance.

June 24, 2006 | Full Review…
Top Critic

It is not filled with quick cutting or gimmicky editing, but Jerry Schatzberg's direction is so confident that we cover the ground effortlessly.

April 9, 2005 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Though Winn and Pacino give buoyant performances, I think the film often nearly falls into afterschool special territory.

December 9, 2021 | Full Review…

Despite its moderate concessions to a tidier commercial narrative line than the book afforded, The Panic in Needle Park remains pretty uncompromising.

July 30, 2021 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Panic in Needle Park


A stark drug addiction tale, dignified child of the early seventies, when explorations of social, economical and political taboos were brutally honest. Back then newcomers, Al Pacino and Kitty Winn pour their souls as a couple of heroin addicts struggling to survive their habit. aesthetically the statement is as grim as life itself: hope is brief, there's no music, nor full closure, it goes on and on, and gets harder each time.

Pierluigi Puccini
Pierluigi Puccini

Super Reviewer

I loved this movie from start to finish. I could have watched it for hours. I loved the style that Schatzberg uses and it is one of the more realistic drug films I have seen. Al Pacino is phenomenal and it was cool to see a very young Raul Julia and Paul Sorvino. A depressing gem with an amazing ending.

Tim Sigur
Tim Sigur

Super Reviewer


There isn't much going on in this movie it seems, or maybe it's just me? Sure there's a love story, and it has it's ups and downs like all love stories, and yes it's interesting to see what life was like for these people in needle park, but there isn't an end to the movie, and I didn't like that.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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