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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!
I saw this film in 1971 and was blown away by the thing, it was very enigmatic, the viewer had to actually THINK ! about the plot. There were so many gaps in the plot, it was hugely open to personal interpretation. Kowalski had no first name, he had no reason to rush the delivery journey, he had no reason to die! I can remember the elation of seeing the chase scenes for the first time and remember the fact that NO special effects were used, the car did exactly what it said on the box ! Excellent film (sad and pointless, but excellent) oh yes , and music to take you right back when. To this day, the 1970/71 Dodge Challenger R/T is THE coolest car on the roads (sorry, Bullitt fans). This film Is dated ,but thats not a bad thing, For all the advances of film technology, they couldn't better this when they made the 1997? remake, it was TOO user friendly, all the gaps where filled in, (name, motive,etc)and it became just another chase movie. This original was probably the first real road movie of modern times, also, SUPERSOUL, so hip, so camp, so funky, so 70's.
I feel this is one of the greatest road movies ever made.For lovers of these genre of movies this film offers ultimate experience.The chase sequences have been brilliantly filmed in desert locations.But i feel the movie's ending is a bit sudden. Kowalski's character is very much representative of the concept of freedom and openness.The same qualities that led to the creation of a great nation but the deterioration of which is beautifully portrayed in subtle ways.The crash seen could be seen as the ultimate protest of free soul against the oppressive and over powering bureaucracy.The chase sequences have been carefully taken.The white car is symbolic of white horse since horse could be considered as the correct representation of wild west.It also denotes freedom of both expressions and actions.The character riding the white car could be equated to a knight riding white horse ie a medieval times take over.The idea is the dark forces which existed during the medieval times are still relevant.Even though ultimate victory cannot be said to be fully with either good or bad forces the director has clearly portrayed that such bold fight against establishments are bound to happen throughout history of mankind ; one such as of Kowalski's.The brave fight put up by kowalski , the refusal to accept defeat,considering death more noble than surrendering oneself to evil forces are typical behavior and values which contributed to the creation of one of the greatest nations of the world.The deterioration of these characters is painfully portrayed by the director.A must see movie ......
My Dad was a local drag racing hero in Gastonia NC in the 1960's. He
was (and still is) a Mopar man. So whenever a car movie came out
featuring a 'Cuda, Charger, or Challenger, we piled up and went out,
usually to the drive-in.
In 1973 I turned 10 yrs. old, and we saw Vanishing Point when it was released, so I musta' been 8 or so, way too young to get anything but "oh boy, fast car" out of it. However, somehow, I got it. Not the 'religious" symbolism, but the fact that I was seeing - no - experiencing a counter-culture film. As an 8 yr. old, it FELT like what I later found out it was supposed to be; a cool, hip, statement on the after-effects of the late '60's turmoil.
Throughout the next 30 years, because the movie did not raise a fuss, I felt like it was MY cool secret - just me and my Dad. I could vividly remember many scenes in my head (in my 20's and 30's) without ever seeing the movie again.
A film that enters your head off and on for 30+ years after seeing it once as a small child, is a testament to the power of a great film. It just goes to show that you don't need a fabulous script with big name actors and beauceats (boo-koos) of special effects to make a truly memorable film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Ok, I just rented Vanishing Point based on my roommate's constant raves
about it. Well, I'll be the first to admit that I just don't get
I've read other comments alluding to its allegorical Christian and post-60s subtexts. Fine. But for a film to work metaphorically, it needs to work on a literal level. What we have here are details that don't make much sense. Does Kowalski really hear Cleavon Little in his mind, or the radio? (It's hard to believe that a Denver radio station's output can reach all the way to Nevada.) What's with the racist attack on Little at the station? (The bluntedly obvious irony of the attack juxtaposed with a "Love Everyone" tune aside, the purpose of the scene failed to enlighten me or propel the story.) What's with the choir in the desert? What's with the naked chick??? And all the flashbacks and police reports didn't tell me a whole lot about what makes this guy tick. What is the point of this movie??? That men desire the open desert road with no societal restrictions??? Don't stop the presses...
Anyway, like I said, I'm probably not tuned in to its message (I never cared for Easy Rider, either.) Vanishing Point was made three years before I was born, and perhaps I needed to have experienced the era to appreciate something like this (this may be why I adore Almost Famous, Dazed and Confused, and Woodstock so much for their nostalgia purposes - jeez, how much do I wish my parents conceived me twenty years earlier!) I do, however, admire the filmmaking techniques of this time, especially the downbeat endings (I'm a big fan of They Shoot Horses, Don't They), which is why I saw the crash coming from so far away, I had time to trim my nails and read my EW.
Cool car, though.
So, if somebody can clue me in, drop me a line. In the meantime, I'll just keep spinning my Zeppelin and Who CDs, and remember a past for which I wasn't present.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have been in love with this movie ever since i was kid. When i first
saw trailer on TV with beautiful white Challenger speeding over the
road, i knew that this is the movie that i will like.
From the opening scene with small desert town early in the morning, through car chases and great,bizarre characters that main hero meets on his journey, i simply couldn't get enough of the movie. Barry Newman plays Kowalski with great attitude as silent, otherworldly-like guy who drives for one reason; because he can.
He doesn't really need a reason to get to San Francisco inside 15 hours, he just wants another challenge. Maybe he is adrenaline junkie, or somebody who wants to pay back to the system that took his life apart? It doesn't really matter, cause entire time that he spends on lonely desert roads, being chased by cops he becomes hero for people like him. People who have been attacked by the law just because they wanted what he wants. They wanted to be free. Unfortunately, at the time when movie was made, things weren't so great for USA, and everyone were in fight with one another, and the part where Kowalski gets in road fight with Jaguar driver is perfect example of this.
Ending of the movie is very sad, but in a way,it is the perfect ending for Kowalski who has suffered so much throughout his life that death is not "only way to escape", he could surrender and spend some time behind bars, but his own decision to go someplace else.
What that place is,nobody knows, but he wanted to go there. Why? Maybe he was tired of the world in which he was living for so long that he wanted to move in some other world where he wouldn't need to be worry when will somebody stab him in the back, since already it happened to him too many times. Maybe, he truly was last free soul in the world which he was the part of, and he couldn't stand it anymore. Girl in black that he picked up night before his last day was, in a way, death coming to welcome him into the afterlife, sort of speak. That's why he accepted her company, because he knew that next day, he will finally reach his destination, finish line for which he drove his entire life.
This is my own view of this fine movie. No matter how old VANISHING POINT is, it is still greatest car chase movie ever, not because of the some incredible chase scenes, but because of the way that story stays true to the way that world still turns, and there is always some lonely soul out there that fights hard to get to its own finish line. Definitely recommended for every car loving guys and girls, and for everyone who love old cult classics.
I watched "Vanishing Point" as a rebellious teenager growing up in Asia, before I got my driver's license or had a chance to travel to America. I skipped school so that I could catch the matinee show. The year was '72. (I guess it took a while for movies to be distributed to Asia back then). One thing I got out of the movie was, "Wow, so that's the kind of cool stuff you could do in the US." I fell in love with so many things at once. Cars. Driving on an open road. The US. The open desert scenery. Above all, the freedom. I never looked back. Now, whenever given the chance, I'm out west on the open road. Since that movie, I've traveled to 42 US states, and still counting. In fact, I'll be off to the Death Valley and other parts of the Mojave next week...
As a fan of 70's movies I was really looking forward to this film.
Unfortunately, I was let down by a few things.
The acting is reasonable, but with so little script, there's little characterisation to latch onto. I understand that the main character Kowalski is supposed to be a loner and doesn't say much, but if this is the case, the supporting characters need to bring something more to proceedings. As it stands, the only other character worthy of note is Super Soul and and although he does an adequate job of playing the stereotypical soulman, it's not enough.
I like films with a plot. I don't mind if it's drawn out or confusing as long as it's there and it makes me think. This movie so wants to be deep, and yet it fails. The idea that Kowalski is a symbol of freedom is all well and good, but since what he's doing is pointless and benefits nobody, how is he free? Because he decides to drive dangerously fast so he can get a better deal on some drugs when he gets home? I don't have a problem with the pro-drugs nature of the movie, but as for a statement of freedom, I don't see it. Lets say he runs over someone and kills them - how is he free?
In reading the reviews here, many people seem to have misinterpreted the meaning of this film. To me, it's more of a statement of a man's reaction against his despair at the downturn in his life. He feels so isolated and ruined - his previous jobs were ace racing driver and top cop and now he's a lowly car delivery man. He goes on one final pointless race, but this time it's against the world (hence his last self destructive act.)
It's one final act of defiance against a life with a rapidly vanishing point (hence the title in case you're not paying attention.) If it is to do with freedom, it's only in that he frees himself from his miserable life.
Even if this is the meaning behind it (if there is one at all) the film doesn't deal with it very well.
Likewise, the characters he meets along the way are woefully underused. The religious cult has little point (apart from perhaps symbolising the breakdown of traditional religious beliefs) and only just makes it onto the screen before its gone again. The two homosexuals he picks up on the road are disposed of before we know anything about them. The police officers are just stupid planks for him to run off the road a la Smokie and the Bandit. The traveling dude who collects snakes - he barely even had a chance to establish a character before he's gone again. The nude motorcycle rider - let's face it - she was just there for us guys to look at (not that I mind, but why not give her a reason to be there rather than some contrived idea that Kowalski rescued her when she was a kid?)
On the plus side, I did enjoy the car chases, although considering they're the main focus of the film, they weren't even as good as those in other movies (Bullitt, French Connection etc.) Likewise, the music was good, but not great. What I did like a lot was the fact that this is a period piece - it personifies a time when the hippy movement was breaking down and society was in a state of flux. It's stylised in a way that I really enjoyed and at times reminded me of Duel or more applicably Easy Rider.
To sum up, if you're a fan of 70's movies - this one could be for you. If you enjoyed Easy Rider, this isn't anywhere near as good but is well worth a look. Not a classic, but very interesting.
Beyond an exciting story, "Vanishing Point" shows some great commercial
views of Denver and Colorado that now are, sadly, lost to history.
During the early part of the film, we're treated to numerous location shots of 16th Street downtown and several industrial areas. Once the chase gets under way and Kowalski is pursued by the motorcycle patrolmen, the filmmakers used portions of what was later to become Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon. That stretch of highway was two-lane then, but now is superslabbed throughout the canyon.
Also note an appearance by longtime Denver TV newsman Bob Palmer, who interviews Sandy about "the Kowalski saga." Palmer holds a mic during the scene, but his cameraman is wielding what appears to be a silent 16 mm camera.
I can remember reading a review for "VP" when it was released that said
something to the effect of "I wouldn't want to be driving down the
street of a drive-in movie after this ends and the kids in their cars
are leaving" Being 16 years old at the time-the reviewer was absolutely
correct. VP packed them in at the drive-ins, this was still the era of
big engines and cheap gas. In a few years the Arab oil embargo, sky
rocketing insurance rates, and pollution regulations would cripple the
Detroit's muscle car industry, but Hollywood in the early 70's still
made car chase movies like "VP," "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry" and "Smoky &
the Bandit" in the tradition of Bob Mitchum's 1950's epic, "Thunder
Road" that featured about 90 minutes of car chases weaved through a
thin plot line.
VP has a minuscule plot that logic totally escapes any logic:
1) Kowalski is supposed to be driving this Dodge Challenger from Denver to SF for a car delivery service, presumably to someone who will take possession of a muscle car in mint condition. Kowalski completely drives the complete crap out of it, on and off road.
2) Kowalski leaves Denver around midnight, but we see him driving in daylight along the breathtaking stretch of I-70 adjacent to the Colorado River in Glenwood Springs, which is only 156 mi. from Denver. Where has Kowalski been all evening? (come to think of it, the only time we see him drive at night is leaving Denver)
3) We only see him stop once for gasoline. I would imagine that the 440 Magnum Dodge engine being driven at 120 mph might get 8mpg. So with a 20 gallon tank Kowalski is going to have to stop at least every hour & half. Speaking of which, why don't the police, instead of chasing him with cars, choppers and setting up roadblocks, just wait for him at the few gas stations that are few and far between in the remote sections of Ut & Nv?
4) the AM radio station, KOW that has the DJ "Supersoul" that aids Kowalski looks like it is in a tiny town in western Nv, I would guess 100 watts, yet Kowalski is able to pick this station up quite clearly all the way from Colorado.
Enough logic. great car chases. hot looking naked chick on a motorcycle shows up later for no reason. not a bad way to spend 90 minutes.
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