Among the adventurous and talented artists who helped shape the Seventies renaissance of American cinema, Jerry Schatzberg (b.1927) is strangely underappreciated today. He remains best known for his first career as an influential still photographer whose fashion spreads for Vogue and Glamour, as well as countless iconic portraits of the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Catherine Deneuve and Andy Warhol (and the indelible cover image of Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde) brought a new edginess and spontaneity to celebrity portraits. Less recognized is the major contribution to New Hollywood made by Schatzberg’s equally influential feature films, and especially by his first three works: Puzzle of a Downfall Child, The Panic in Needle Park and Scarecrow. Intimate and remarkably intense character studies, Schatzberg’s early films embody the era’s movement toward personal, prismatic stories that refract the tumultuous cultural climate while also offering a more introverted variation of the fierce iconoclasm bred within the films of Robert Altman, Hal Ashby, Arthur Penn, et al. Together Puzzle of a Downfall Child, The Panic in Needle Park and Scarecrow offer sensitive, even affectionate, stories of deeply damaged, alienated characters struggling to survive the broken worlds they have made for themselves – a former model suffering a nervous breakdown in Downfall, increasingly desperate junkies buoyed by their urgent love in Panic and two hopeless drifters in Scarecrow. Schatzberg found equal critical acclaim for his two subsequent films, The Seduction of Joe Tynan and Honeysuckle Rose but suffered a series of creative setbacks in the mid-1980s before making a stunning comeback with Reunion, a mature reflection on the lasting, lustrous power of adolescent relationships. – Haden Guest
About the Collection
Among Jerry Schatzberg's papers are screenplays and production records for completed film projects; scripts and research material for unrealized projects; personal and professional correspondence; film festival material; photographic tear sheets; and audiovisual and born-digital material.
The collection is held at Houghton Library. A finding aid is available here.
For more information about Jerry Schatzberg, visit his website.