Friday, May 11, 2007
Vanishing Point (1971)
Kowalski (Barry Newman), a cop turned-race-car-driver, is to deliver a white Dodge Challenger from Denver to San Francisco. It's Friday night, he has until Monday -- all kinds of time -- but then he goes and makes a bet with his speed dealer, he can do the deed in half the time. Translation: It's On. Kowalski, fueled by uppers and insomnia, zooms his supercharged vehicle past gauntlet after gauntlet of cops, still to be dogged by other drivers, roadside bandits, roadblocks, &c. The chase eventually veers off-road, onto the blistering sands of the Sonora Desert, with Kowalski at all times egged on by a blind, seemingly psychic disc jockey, Super Soul (Cleavon Little), a Greek chorus of gospel R&B records and cryptic ranting. And what's that mysterious black sedan reappearing around every turn, no matter how hard Kowalski presses the pedal to the metal? The quintessential anti-hero chase movie; Cool Hand Luke piloting a Hemi, and Burt Reynolds' giggling Bandit left somewhere in the dust. Sublime desert cinematography. Insanely gratuitous nudity. And no movie hot rod dies harder (except maybe the Barricuda in the Phantasm movies).