Tag Archives: Two-Lane Blacktop

Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)

Ever since first watching Terrence Malick’s Badlands, I’ve been a huge fan of road movies. In 1971, Monte Hellman’s Two-Lane Blacktop embraced a side of Americana you’ll have go out and discover for yourself. Shedding light on a different kind of American dream resulted in a movie that was slow-moving, where the plot didn’t really matter. It bombed at the box office.All of the cast are known purely by generic terms; James Taylor is the Driver, Dennis Wilson the Mechanic, Laurie Bird the Girl and the great Warren Oates, in the kind of role that only Warren Oates could play, is GTO. Taylor and Wilson drive a souped-up, primer grey ’55 Chevy. Oates rolls a pristine Pontiac GTO; one of the best seventies muscle cars. The cars are even listed in the credits.All players drive and drive and drive, but what are they really looking for? The characters don’t seem to know themselves. Director Hellman completely abandons the main thrust of the film, a cross-country race for pink slips, about halfway through. GTO and the trio in the Driver’s car just end up travelling together, the long stretches of open road punctuated by stops at small town gas stations and diners.What makes this film unique is its ability to tell a story with pictures and sound. You see the film several times from the Driver’s perspective as he shifts gears on the American highway. The celluloid burning in the projector is a final image that will stay with you long after the film ends. A masterpiece.


Filed under Retrospective