(Ed note: I’m repurposing parts of an earlier review of this movie for this week’s Monday Movie Trailer. Yes, I’m that lazy.)
Called a “definitive American road movie” by Netflix, 1971’s Two Lane Blacktop is a transitional cult film that bridges 1960’s hippie eclecticism with 1970’s Viet Nam cynicism. Directed by Monte Hellman, who had just come off a stage production of Waiting for Godot, and would later go on to helm such classic fare as Cockfighter and Silent Night, Deadly Night III: Better Watch Out!, the film stared noted ’70’s action hero James Taylor, as well as Beach Boy and former Manson Family friend, Dennis Wilson.
As if these major thespians weren’t enough, the film also stars character actor Warren Oates and Art Garfunkel then-current squeeze Laurie Bird. Neither Bird, a photographer, nor the two rock musicians had any professional acting training prior to the film, and Bird only completed two other films before her untimely death in 1979. Oates, the only professional actor in the troop, later stared in the aforementioned Cockfighter.
But the real stars of the picture are the cars, headed by a primer gray 1955 Chevy with a 454 big block and a 1970 455 GTO. The Chevy also appeared in American Graffiti. Each car is meant to be the embodiment of the respective driver’s persona, but don’t watch the film for the heavy-handed symbolism, watch it for the cool races and the high-revving soundtrack.
The film is spare with both plot and dialog, but the story is basically: James Taylor is the Driver, and Dennis Wilson is the Mechanic of the Chevy. They drive around, looking for challengers (note lower case “c”) to race, sort of a retro version of Pinks. They meet up with Warren Oates driving the GTO, and issue the throw down for a cross-country race. For a movie about high-octane high-stakes racing, it’s remarkable how laconic everyone behaves. I guess that’s what you get when you replace actors with musicians. Check it out, right after the jump. … Continue Reading