With the melancholy open-road epic Two-Lane Blacktop
, American auteur Monte Hellman (The Shooting, Cockfighter
, and the recent Road to Nowhere
) poeticised the beautiful, terrible rootlessness of his nation in the era of Vietnam. Funded by Universal in a bid to recreate the success of Easy Rider
by giving a number of filmmakers $1m and final cut Hellman's effort is now regarded as one of the key films of the New Hollywood renaissance of the early 1970s.
While driving eastward on Route 66, two rival car owners The Driver (singer-songwriter James Taylor) and The Mechanic (Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys) in a souped-up, drag-racing '55 Chevy, and a middle-aged braggart (Warren Oates) in a gleaming GTO begin to race for each other's pink slips
and the affections of the listless female hitchhiker (Laurie Bird) who joins them on the road.
Scripted by esteemed novelist Rudy Wurlitzer, and featuring the only screen performances of Taylor and Wilson, Two-Lane Blacktop
remains a timeless, existential portrait of lives in transit and of a country questioning its identity. SPECIAL DIRECTOR-APPROVED BLU-RAY FEATURES:
- New restored high-definition master, supervised and approved by Monte Hellman
- Original mono soundtrack and optional newly remastered 5.1 mix
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hearing-impaired
- Audio commentary by Monte Hellman and associate producer Gary Kurtz
- On The Road Again: Two-Lane Blacktop Revisited, a 43-minute video piece in which Monte Hellman revisits the film's locations
- Somewhere Near Salinas, a 28-minute interview by Monte Hellman with singer-songwriter Kris Kristofferson
- Sure Did Talk To You, a 24-minute video piece by Monte Hellman, interviewing producer Michael Laughlin, production manager Walter Coblenz, and the director's son Jared Hellman
- Rare archival screen-test footage of James Taylor and Laurie Bird
- Original theatrical trailer
- Optional music and effects track
- A lavish 36-page booklet featuring rare production imagery, the words of Monte Hellman, and more!
James Taylor is The Driver
, a car-obsessed racer with stringy hair and a concentration that precludes conversation. He travels the backroads of rural America with his buddy, The Mechanic, (Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys), an equally obsessed lost soul at home only in the car or under the hood. They have no names, only designations, and no life outside of their gypsy existence, riding the unending highway in their souped-up '55 Chevy from race to race. After picking up a hitchhiking Girl (Laurie Bird), whose presence breaks the tunnel-vision focus of the two men, they challenge a middle-aged hotshot, the garrulous G.T.O. (Warren Oates) to a cross-country race. Monte Hellman's Two-Lane Blacktop is the most alienated evocation of modern America ever made, an almost abstract study in dislocation and obsession set against a vague landscape of roadside diners and rest stops. Taylor and Wilson deliver appropriately blank performances, only expressing emotion when The Girl sparks jealousy between them. Oates is a glib dynamo constructing a new persona in every scene, as if trying on characters to play as he ping-pongs between the coasts. "How fast does it go?" asks The Driver, admiring G.T.O.'s car. "Fast enough," he answers. The Driver snaps, "You can never go fast enough." These are characters on the road to nowhere who can't work up enough speed to escape themselves. --Sean Axmaker
--This text refers to the