Friday, May 11, 2007

Vanishing Point (1971)

Kowalski (Barry Newman), a cop-turned-race-car-driver, is tasked 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 through gauntlet after gauntlet of cops, still to be dogged by other drivers, roadside bandits, roadblocks, &c. The chase eventually leaves the road, enters the blistering sands of the Sonora Desert, Kowalski egged on by a blind, perhaps psychic disc jockey, Super Soul (Cleavon Little), a Greek chorus of gospel R&B records and cryptic rants. And what's that mysterious black sedan reappearing around every corner, no matter how hard Kowalski jams the pedal to the metal? Quintessential grindhouse fare. Sublime desert cinematography. Insanely gratuitous nudity. And no hot rod dies harder on the silver screen (except for the Barricuda in the Phantasm movies -- that's a heartbreaker).

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