TWO-LANE BLACKTOP [Blu-ray]
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James Taylor is The Driver, a car-obsessed racer with stringy hair and a concentration that precludes conversation. He travels the backroads of rural America with his buddy, The Mechanic (Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys), an equally obsessed lost soul at home only in the car or under the hood. They have no names, only designations, and no life outside of their gypsy existence, riding the unending highway in their souped-up '55 Chevy from race to race. After picking up a hitchhiking Girl (Laurie Bird), whose presence breaks the tunnel-vision focus of the two men, they challenge a middle-aged hotshot, the garrulous G.T.O. (Warren Oates) to a cross-country race. Monte Hellman's Two-Lane Blacktop is the most alienated evocation of modern America ever made, an almost abstract study in dislocation and obsession set against a vague landscape of roadside diners and rest stops. Taylor and Wilson deliver appropriately blank performances, only expressing emotion when The Girl sparks jealousy between them. Oates is a glib dynamo constructing a new persona in every scene, as if trying on characters to play as he ping-pongs between the coasts. "How fast does it go?" asks The Driver, admiring G.T.O.'s car. "Fast enough," he answers. The Driver snaps, "You can never go fast enough." These are characters on the road to nowhere who can't work up enough speed to escape themselves. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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There is a race in "Two-Lane Blacktop," though it seems to end almost before it begins. There are extraordinary muscle cars as well, including a souped up '55 Chevy contrasted with a new Pontiac GTO. But Two-Lane Blacktop is a character study, even though the characters are not people we would particularly like to know.
The three main characters, haunted lost souls void of identity and emotion, are played by James Taylor, Dennis Wilson and Warren Oates. Taylor and Wilson silently cruise the backroads of America looking for the next race in their 55' Chevy. They eventually meet Oates, a chattering, nervous man involved in some kind of middle-age crisis while picking up hitchikers in his GTO. These men decide to race cross country, but eventually lose interest.
Throw into this uneasy mix a young hitchiker played by Laurie Bird. She jumps back and forth between these three men, holding off their awkward advances, eventually realizing their emotionless lives are headed down an endless highway without destination.
"Two-Lane Blacktop" is a morose study of men perpetually lost on the backroads of a nameless American landscape. They are hovering ghosts, void of identity, forever searching for a meaning which cannot be found. There are no easy truths or answers in Hellman's complex odyssey.Read more ›
The first subplot is the contrast of the genuine versus the wannabe, as revealed in the cars and their owners. There has always been a street-race rivalry between the the home-built hotrod and the checkbook-aquired factory musclecar (fellow gearheads will nod knowingly). This contrast extends to The Driver, who is earthy and real, and GTO, who is always playing a role. At first, GTO tries to stand toe-to-toe with The Driver, but he is eventually subjugated by the horsepower of the '55 and the mechanical know-how of Driver and Mechanic.
The second and more interesting subplot is the tension within The Driver, who feels more comfortable with machines than with people (perhaps machines are easier to control). Believe me, this type of personality exists - confirm with any gearhead or IT professional. His machine zen is interrupted by the hitchhiker, to whom he opens himself up (barely). The hicthhiker eventually leaves, and at the end of the movie he slides shut the window of the '55 Chevy, symbolically shutting out human emotion/interaction and returning to his mechanical world.
Watch this movie looking for these subplots, and you may have a whole new viewing experience.
Most recent customer reviews
Took a long time to get too me, can't watch it cause it's a region 2 disc, I will have to watch when I buy more moviesPublished 27 days ago by leif boyce
Great movie with littlevoice acting from either of the two main characters.Published 12 months ago by Brian D Payne
The DVD arrived on Dec. 31. It was a Christmas gift for our son who had seen it years ago and wanted a copy. Read morePublished on Jan. 10 2014 by Linda A. Gerow