Two-Lane Blacktop

  • Type: Movies & TV
  • Age Category: Adults
  • Genre: Drama
  • Recommended by: Tom S.
  • ISBN/UPC: 715515137614
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A drag-racing movie for gearheads - and existentialists.

The Car is a '55 Chevy, radically modified for one purpose only - going very, very fast in a straight line. Everything inessential to the pursuit of speed has been stripped away, leaving only a menacing street dragster in dull grey primer, with a four-speed manual and a tire-burning 454 big block. The Driver and The Mechanic, who are as lean and bare-bones as The Car itself, seem to exist only in relation to the vehicle and its continued forward motion, and what little conversation passes between them nearly always focuses on carburetors and valves, tires and axles.
Though there is a plotline, in which The Driver (played by folk/rocker James Taylor) and The Mechanic (Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys) agree to a cross-country race against a garrulous drifter in a 390 horsepower Pontiac GTO (Warren Oates in a fine performance), and even a sub-plot involving a young woman (whom the others characters call The Girl), the real impact of the movie is not in story but in mood and setting. It comes from the the whine of transmissions and the squeal of tires, and, in one crucial scene, the tiny smile The Driver allows himself - his only happy facial expression in the entire move - as he floors the Chevy's accelerator and sends it roaring past the GTO.
You can almost smell the burning rubber and hi-test exhaust.