QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded

Two Lane Blacktop

This film is in color, but it's so stark it feels like black and white. Characters without names drive cars and race cars. Words must cost money and they's short on cash. But there's such beauty in the film work.

The Driver and the Mechanic have a 55 Chevy, engine completely rebuilt, car stripped of anything unnecessary. They drive Route 66 east, looking for races to win. They keep bumping into this guy in a 1970 Pontiac GTO (both cars get listings in the credits). At this point you are reminded it is a color film because the GTO is bright yellow. The Chevy crew and the GTO agree to race to DC, for pink slips. There's a Girl, too. She just put herself in the car and they drove off without a word. Later, she gets tired of them never asking her name or something and takes herself out of the car. It's the racing that's important.

Imdb tells me a remake is planned. Seems like this can't be made better, though. Imdb also tells me the 55 Chevy went on to have a roll (in more than one sense) in American Graffiti, driven by Harrison Ford.

Two Lane Blacktop (1971) at IMDB

James Taylor is "The Driver". Beach Boy Dennis Wilson is "The Mechanic". Warren Oates is "GTO". Laurie Bird is "The Girl". That's how they are credited in leading and trailing credits. Names are heavy, they slow you down.

Five out of five weird hitchhikers picked up by GTO.

The grandma was the killer hitchhiker. (But not not a literal killer.) Odd that I watched this and didn't think about Harry Dean Stanton, one of the weird hitchhikers, but learned he died a couple hours later.

Harry Dean Stanton obit at LATimes

Final thought: GTO and the Driver have another reason to ponder mortality.