Drag racing east from L.A. in a souped-up ‘55 Chevy are the wayward Driver and Mechanic (singer/songwriter James Taylor and the Beach Boys’ Dennis Wilson, in their only acting roles), accompanied by a tagalong Girl (Laurie Bird). Along the way, they meet Warren Oates’s Pontiac GTO-driving wanderer and challenge him to a cross-country race—the prize: their cars’ pink slips. Yet no summary can do justice to the existential punch of Two-Lane Blacktop. Maverick director Monte Hellman’s stripped-down narrative, gorgeous widescreen compositions, and sophisticated look at American male obsession make this one of the artistic high points of 1970s cinema, and possibly the greatest road movie ever made. —The Criterion Collection
Monte Hellman (born July 12, 1932, in New York City, New York) is an American film director, producer, and film editor.
Hellman is among a group of directing talent mentored by Roger Corman, who produced several of the director’s early films. Hellman’s most critically acclaimed film to date has been Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), a road movie that was a box office failure at the time of its initial release but has subsequently turned into a perennial cult favorite.1 Hellman’s two acid westerns starring Jack Nicholson, Ride in the Whirlwind and The Shooting, both shot in 1965 and released directly to television in 1968, have also developed cult followings, particularly the latter. A third western, China 9, Liberty 37 (1978), was far less successful critically, although it too has its admirers, as do Cockfighter (1974) (aka Born to Kill) and Iguana (1988). In 1989 he directed the straight-to-video slasher film Silent Night, Deadly Night 3: Better Watch… read more
My favorite american film, too bad american cinema will never go that far on the road again. One can dream of making such a meaningful and profoundly resonant film like Two-Lane Blacktop, but only Monte Hellman has the balls to do it in a Hollywood production. No wonder that received backlash on its release whereas Easy Rider was a success, this industry wants nothing with ethics or the truth.
Cars have never sounded so good in probably the best road movie ever made. James Taylor and Dennis Wilson in their only acting roles takes us on a journey across country as they race against another driver to Washington. The Winner gets the loser's car.I was quite surprised at how much I loved this film and the realness of it.
Monte Hellman's best films begin by pretending to tell a story. Take your pick: Ride in the Whirlwind, Two-Lane Blacktop, Cockfighter
Updated through 5/6. The series Anthology Film Archives is running from Friday through May 5, Drop Edges of Yonder: The Films of Rudy Wurlitzer
Four people coming from nowhere, drifting, heading nowhere but rich in stories to tell, even if there are no words to describe them as their life is embodied solely in their racing vehicles or their… read review
Though I wish nothing more than to love a Bressonesque journey into the heart of America, Monte Hellman’s rush of gear headed existentialism kind of left me twirling my hair in the uncomfortable back… read review
Though it might have been too late to the decade party, I take Two-Lane Blacktop as what 60s nostalgia-trippers and film critics want everyone to see in read review