7.3/10
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112 user 115 critic

Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)

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2:28 | Trailer

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2 men drag-racing across the U.S., in a '55 Chevy. Dennis Wilson's the mechanic, James Taylor's the driver.

Director:

Monte Hellman

Writers:

Rudy Wurlitzer (screenplay) (as Rudolph Wurlitzer), Will Corry (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Taylor ... The Driver
Warren Oates ... G.T.O
Laurie Bird ... The Girl
Dennis Wilson ... The Mechanic
David Drake David Drake ... Needles Station Attendant
Richard Ruth Richard Ruth ... Needles Station Mechanic
Rudy Wurlitzer Rudy Wurlitzer ... Hot Rod Driver (as Rudolph Wurlitzer)
Jaclyn Hellman Jaclyn Hellman ... Driver's Girl
Bill Keller Bill Keller ... Texas Hitchhiker
Harry Dean Stanton ... Oklahoma Hitchhiker (as H.D. Stanton)
Don Samuels Don Samuels ... Texas Policeman #1
Charles Moore Charles Moore ... Texas Policeman #2
Tom Green Tom Green ... Boswell Attendant
W.H. Harrison W.H. Harrison ... Parts Store Owner
Alan Vint ... Man in Roadhouse
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Storyline

The Driver and The Mechanic are 2 car freaks driving a 1955 Chevy through the southwestern U.S., looking for other cars to race. They're totally dedicated to their car, and speak with each other only when necessary. At a gas station, the pair (along with a girl who's ingratiated herself into their world) meet G.T.O; a middle-aged man who fabricates stories and. It's decided to have a race to Washington, D.C., where the winner will get the loser's car. Written by Rick Gregory <rag.apa@email.apa.org>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

You can never go fast enough...

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 October 1972 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

Fortare än döden See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$850,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This is the only time that James Taylor ever acted in a movie, apart from cameos as himself (as in "Funny People"). He is the only one of the main actors in the film still alive today (2009). See more »

Goofs

At the garage where the race is being set up, watch the crank of the hand mangle as it mysteriously changes its position throughout the clips. See more »

Quotes

G.T.O.: If I'm not grounded pretty soon, I'm gonna go into orbit.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The GTO ... 1970 Pontiac See more »

Connections

Featured in The Old Man & the Gun (2018) See more »

Soundtracks

Stealin'
Written and Performed by Arlo Guthrie
Also performed by Laurie Bird
See more »

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User Reviews

A superb road movie - and more than a road movie.
4 August 2008 | by chaos-rampantSee all my reviews

Warren Oates plays a GTO driver who, on his road East, challenges two car nuts for "pink slips". The first to get to Washington D.C. wins the other's car. The two young guys have also picked up a girl on their way, or more accurately, she just got in their car, no questions asked; who she is, where she's going, nada. She's just tagging along for the ride. All four major characters are drifters, men (and woman) with no names, and their credit titles reflect that: G.T.O., The Driver, The Mechanic, The Girl. They're parts of a long tradition of genre anti-heroes, drifters and outcasts, that includes the likes of Sanjuro (Yojimbo) and The Man with No Name.

However they face the same paradox every cinematic anti-hero faces: by separating themselves from society, by refusing to sit still and conform, they're free; it's just them, the engine revving and the road. The problem is that even though they are free, they don't seem to realize it. They keep trying to define themselves through society values. As Warren Oates muses about settling down: "If I'm not grounded pretty soon, I'm gonna go into orbit". The only thing that still permits these people identity and a place in society is through their cars. If the end is a symbolic representation of this moral double-bind that pushes them into two opposite directions, only Monte Hellman knows.

The reason I'm musing about characters in a car movie however is simple. Two-Lane Blacktop is not just about the race between a 1955 Chevy and a 1970 Pontiac. And that's probably why the movie meanders seemingly aimlessly in places, as if in a trance. It's not a racing movie. It doesn't try to be a tight, gripping thriller. In that light, the sometimes slow pacing becomes part of what defines the movie. It feels more like some sort of existential journey through 70's America. But the beauty (and Hellman's talent) is that he refuses the easy way out of obvious allegories (the kind of which Jarmusch used in Dead Man). Things are pretty much open and left for interpretation. But as the two cars cross country on their way to Washington D.C., Hellman captures the zeitgeist of the times in a unique way. I don't know how this slice of Americana looks in the eyes of Americans, but for a European like me, it paints the country in the same mythic colours Sergio Leone's movies did. The difference being this is not a reconstruction of a time and era seen through the eyes of a fascinated European director, but real locations and people.

In any way, Two-Lane Blacktop is closer to Vanishing Point than Gone in 60 Seconds. A superb road movie on all counts and more than a road movie.


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