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|Index||160 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Absolutely the best car chase movie ever done!!!
I not going to review this movie the same way the others above have...if you have read all the other reviews, then you know about the storyline....Well , here it is...if you have been looking for it since '71 ...you've found it...saw this movie at the theatre and then the drive in, on TV and finally now on this video...and as a bonus..it is the extended version...with the missing scenes of Kowalski's girlfriend's drowning...this was edited out for TV...the car is a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T (road and track)...it was one of 5 cars used for the shooting of the movie.Some of the cars had 440 magnums and a couple were just 383 cars...there is also a 440 Six pack car that you can see the emblems on the hood in one scene. The car they used for most close ups was equipped with Rim blow steering wheel, 15" rallys, am-fm radio, power windows, solid white paint with stripe delete, power bulge hood, polyglas tires and a 4 speed trans with a pistol grip shifter .Barry Newman did some of the stunts himself, and many of the burnouts...I could go on and on but the only thing I can tell you is that I saw this movie when I was 14 and this movie has had a HUGE impact on my life. I have owned over 10 of these E-Body Challengers, including a factory white '70 440 SIX PACK R/T. This is the movie that made me love Mopar, I'm a Dodge fan for life. The '70-'71 Dodge Challengers are truly one of the most gorgeous cars to ever come out of Detroit, check their value in today's market....by the way...the car that hits the dozers at the end is a '68 Camaro....Kowalski lives and Mopar Rules!!!!
Please oh please can people just WATCH this film. Forget all the
You know since I was a kid this seems to have been a topic of conversation
with just about anyone who's ever seen it, you've heard it haven't you?
bar-room amateur psychoanalyst or the self proclaimed expert on human
behaviour, all giving out opinions of dubious worth.
HERE IS THE CLUE!..... It's a big one too! -------The title!.....There is no point... There.
Anyway back to the film. If you were thinking that I don't like it you're wrong because I think it's terrific. In fact it's brilliant, and not in some foot to the floorboards and brain out of the window way either. There IS a lot of meaning, albeit so jumbled up as to defy any reasoned explanation. So get the beers in, get your mates round and enjoy it--all 500 Horse Power, the gleaming chrome, the V8 rumble,the cool DJ, the clanking bulldozers, the surreal nudist and the full circle ending. Like I said, pointless. Brilliant. Memorable.
This is the essential 1970s anti-hero movie. It is not supposed to make sense and I have often wondered if it were not meant to be someone's psychedelic dream. Nudity when nudity would not seem to fit; bad cops; beaten people out of sync with plot line. Sounds like a trip. The cast is excellent and this is one of Cleavon Little's last main roles as well as the last main role for the early love interest. John Amos is so underplayed he is almost unrecognizable, I'd love to see his commentary on the movie. And one guy is so ripping off James Dean (though as a racist) that it is unintentionally funny. I'd recommend it as an addition to any American tape library. A true cult classic.
'Vanishing Point', a chase movie from the early 1970s, can be easily
related to other films of the same (or similar) genres. From its
predecessor 'Easy Rider' it takes the bleak beauty of western America,
a rollicking soundtrack and a structure whereby the continuum of life
on the road is punctuated by emblematic, but vague, encounters. Like
Spielberg's 'Duel', it is minimalistic in form. But it's outlaw
philosophy has more in common with later, sillier films like 'Smokey
and the Bandit' and 'The Cannonball Run' (in 'Easy Rider', the heroes
simply want to mind their own business; but in 'Vanishing Point',
beating the system is the end in itself). This might make the film seem
more political, except for the complete vapidness of its central
concept: that "freedom" can be defined as the right to burn enormous
quantities of oil at life-endangering speeds (indeed, it appears that
one of the ways in which the mainstream has persecuted our hero is to
attempt to prevent him from driving when drunk). One could say that
this film proceeds under the false cloak of counter culturalism, while
selling us the same macho dreams as any mainstream Hollywood product.
Yet without the pseudo-philosophical justification, this is a movie
without point or purpose, whose central character acts without any
For all that, the chase itself is gripping, though it's strange (especially for a European) to see what qualified as a sports car in America 30 years ago: this one has huge front and rear overhangs and ridiculously soft suspension. But the worst thing about this movie are its bizarre diversions from the main plot, which include: the cheesiest love scene I can remember; a strange, homophobia-tinged encounter with a couple of gay would-be car-hijackers; a racist attack, apropos of nothing; and, most oddly of all, a meeting with a motorcycling, naked blonde in the middle of the desert. The surprise ending which follows all this might have had an impact if the film that had preceded it had anything to say.
The only real reason for watching this film today is as a period piece, a strange mix of reactionary and hippie values that clearly mark it a product of its time. But freedom does not mean irresponsibility; nor does irresponsibility in itself bring freedom, however oppressive we find may the life we are expected to live. Watch 'Five Easy Pieces', a timeless classic from the same era, for a real exploration of these themes.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie held me spellbound the first time I saw it and is still
of this after countless viewings. This is more than just a car chase
it actually has depth and a story to tell. The scenery of the great
American West is also first rate and the soundtrack never fails to set
**THIS PARAGRAGH MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS** The story of the main character, an auto delivery driver named Kowalski unfolds as he takes delivery of a white '70 Dodge Challenger which is as he puts it `souped up to 160' and proceeds to drive it from Denver to San Francisco. His plan, however is to do this in 15 hours to win a bet. As Kowalski makes his journey his life is revealed to us through flashbacks and recollections which are usually triggered by what is currently happening to him in real time. Through these the viewer learns that despite his apparent lawless behavior, Kowalski is a man of good character. One of the big things that drew me into this movie is that it doesn't hand you the explanations on a silver platter. Instead it allows you to think about it and draw your own conclusions long after you've seen it. Certain other reviewers here have already done a great job of touching on the philosophies of freedom and individualism prevalent in this movie, so I won't waste the time trying to top those. I'll add that I feel this is a type of an expressionist film. Kowalski is kind of an `Everyman' (I think people can relate to him) who is on a journey to find his place in the grand scheme of things. Along his path he encounters various characters that watch over him and help him along, but there are also those who wish to shut him down. Whether you think the conclusion of Kowalski's journey is successful or not is up to you.
Another big plus is the realism in the driving scenes, where the drivers are actually driving their machines and occasionally things happen like tires going flat or the car needs fuel. Most modern car chase sequences leave me wanting with all of the computer generated car moves and general lack of realism (no, you can't shoot a car repeatedly with a .50 calibre machine gun without harming the occupants or engine). I know they sometimes got it wrong back then too, doing things like obviously speeding the film up. In this one though, they got it right. The driving here brings us into that realm of manhandling 4000 lbs. of American Iron, in all the glory of big-block V8 roar, screaming smoking tires, and hands flying over the steering wheel.
Another thing that's cool to me about this type of movie is the appearance of the car. At the beginning, the car is resplendent in gleaming chrome and white paint. As the story moves along, the car gradually gets a more dusty battered countenance. I won't spoil the end, but those who've seen it know.
The final things that tie this whole thing together are the soundtrack and scenery. They seem to go hand in hand, from the upbeat rock & roll as Kowalski starts out to the stirring guitar strains during the thoughtful moments. I also cannot say enough about the scenery, which really sucks the viewer in. It ranges from the mountains of Colorado, across Utah and into the searing Nevada desert.
In closing, I'll say that this is one of my favorite movies. It won't be understood by everyone, but those of us who fantasize about getting in a classic car and blasting down an open two-lane highway devoid of SUV's, sport sedans and minivans will likely get it.
"Vanishing Point" asks the question and, like other films of this kind before "Smokey & the Bandit" brought the genre to an end, lets us ponder the answer on our own. Other than that, there's no point to this film except to demonstrate that the Challenger is one of the best-looking muscle/sports cars ever made. Get too far into this movie & you'll want to sell your children to have one. Kowalski is a '70s knight-errant, or a Greek mythological hero, just as you please. He rides his Hemi-powered steed on a quest to San Francisco, not for a "what," or a "why," or even for a lady fair, but only for "how fast." Does he seek redemption? Escape? Self-forgiveness? To stick it to the Man? Who cares? Knavish cops close in on him, lotus-eaters like Hovah (Darden) shun him, sirens (especially the stark-naked Texter, who would've stopped Burt Reynolds's Bandit faster than Sally Field ever did) want him to dally. Sharp-featured, Western character actor Anthony James has a hilarious, uncharacteristic turn as a gay hitchhiker. Humble, noble souls come forth to guide Kowalski like angels, including a scruffy snake-hunter (Jagger), chopper jockey & drug dealer Angel (Scott), and the blind deejay Super Soul (Little, who should've been a contender for the part of Howard Beal in "Network"). The Man's attempts to explain Kowalski are annoying distractions, so hit the "mute" button when you see scenes of cops in offices. And stop wondering why Kowalski, on his quest for speed, is always being overtaken & passed by other vehicles. Just put your brain in neutral, put your popcorn where it's handy, and buckle up.
The finest period piece ever. This film so encapsulates the decades I grew up in. The stereotypes portrayed remain true to this day. The cops are corrupt, the racists are ignorant and the true believers in true freedom are overwhelmed in the end... sigh. Some things never change, my friends. Read Edward Abbey for further insight to this spectacularly polished and perfect low-budget movie. The film "Lonely are the Brave", starring a very young Kirk Douglas and and even younger Walter Matthau is a close parallel in gorgeous black and white. It is based on "The Last Cowboy" by Abbey, but his masterpiece "A Fools Progress" illustrates -almost as completely as "Vanishing Point"- the heartbreaking philosophy that mourns the final death of true freedom in the one Empire that claimed to champion it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Vanishing Point seems to be one of those films on the cusp between the
60's era psychedelia and the 70's tough guy cop chase movies. It has
elements of both and could have been so much more had it focused more
on the main character and less on the nonsense. In so many films of
this type the lead meets up with the strangest people just to be
strange and it adds little to the overall story. I recall the scene in
Thunderbolt and Lightfoot where they encounter that crazy guy who
shoots rabbits from his trunk and funnels the exhaust into the cars
interior, why, we don't know and never find out. In Vanishing Point we
have to two weird gay bandits in one of the most ridiculous scenes I
have ever watched and a revival meeting in the desert that seems just
thrown in and pointless.
The Dodge Challenger obviously is just incredible and is a star in it's own right and the shots of it screaming across the desert highways are just fantastic. I'm not sure of the whole delivery premise to begin with, he doesn't seem to care if the car is damaged, so why is he in a hurry to deliver it and didn't they have Dodge dealerships in CA in 1970???. Is it a death wish from the start? It's hard to see this now and realize that car was brand new and one of the true monsters of the road at the time. The movie is dated like most older films but I don't rate movies based on that, you have to take into account the time and not compare it to today.
Clevon Little's role is just incredibly stupid with him feeling the drivers moves or whatever and the music they choose does not fit the scenario at all, you would of expected a much harder soundtrack. I'm still not sure why there is a soul station in the middle of nowhere, and it must have one powerful signal to reach such a long distance. In fact the music here is so bad and forgettable I can't imagine anyone listing it as part of the reason they like this film. A lot of movies from this era used groups they thought were going to be popular or are friends of the producer, there is not one hit from the 60's or 70's here except "Mississippi Queen" which is used for ten seconds and in the wrong place.
More weird to be weird is the naked chick but I guess there is a running theme of wispy blonds in his past, but how in the hell would she have a collage of his history?
The ending is so disconnected from the rest of the movie, the crowd awaiting his arrival don't even seem to be in the same scene and it ends so anticlimactically. Why did they suddenly use a Camaro to blow up instead of the Dodge, you can even see the letters on the side nameplate. The beginning had a good feel to it and I can't imaging how great this would have been had it been more structured and been a straight action film instead of trying to become some religious message wrapped in a Challenger.
Just received a DVD of this film and was pleasantly surprised. The
image is restored and looks great. After years of watching grainy and
scratched prints its nice to see it as it was in 1971. Theatrical
trailer and two TV spots are included. Commentary by Richard C.
Sarifian brings some insights into filming locations, the various
actors, etc. (Gilda Texter was severely sunburned during her desert
motorcycle ride and she was girl friend of actor Paul Koslo who also
appears in film.) And a story of a prostitute befriended by the
crew,who stole the last remaining challenger. (eight were used, only
one survived.) She was caught sometime later. The real treat is actress
Charlotte Ramplings missing scene near the end of the film. While it really adds nothing to the story,its nice to finally see the missing footage after thirty years. There are also some striking images of the challenger at daybreak in that previously missing scene. The only thing lacking is commentary from the STAR of the film, Barry Newman,which would have made this a Great DVD.
Many people don't know where the radio d.j. was broadcasting from in the movie. He was broadcasting from the then closed Goldfield Hotel, in beautiful "downtown" Goldfield Nevada! I should know! I was a resident in this picturesque little town of 110 people (in 1971). The Goldfield Hotel has since found new life as a restored historical landmark. The town itself has surged in population due to new mining processes, and the re-opening of the long closed mines. During the movie, a scene picturing the front of the "Green Frog Market", you will see the faint glow of a freckle-faced, red headed little boy, gazing out of the window......yeah..it's me!! This movie was quite exciting in a town of 110 people!
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