QZ qz thoughts
a blog from Eli the Bearded

Thunder Road

After Two Lane Blacktop and Vanishing Point there was a suggestion to watch Thunder Road because it was often double featured with those.

Now having watched it, Thunder Road was better than Vanishing Point, but they sure picked some bad music for drive sequences. Some scenes came across almost as Looney Tunes with that accompaniment. It also left me enough time to wonder, before the movie was even over, about some of the details. A 250 gallon tank, in that car? Did they take the back seat out to fit it? Is he getting 000 for a single 250 gallon shipment? That's /gallon, presumably wholesale rate. Is that cheap booze for 1950-something? I'm not sure. But if it's not cheaper than taxed liquor, there's no reason for moonshine.

I later found out that the alcohol tax in 1954 is the same as the alcohol tax now. It's never been raised even as inflation has diluted the dollar. So what was onerous then is not as big a deal today.

So far, for classic driving movies I have watched (roughly ranked, best to worst, in my subjective opinion):

  • Two Lane Blacktop
  • The Wages of Fear
  • ...
  • Thunder Road
  • Death Race 2000
  • ...
  • Vanishing Point
  • Damnation Alley

Obviously "classic driving movies" is a broad and idiosyncratic collection. I'm not including things just with good chases, like Bullitt, Or motorcycle films (Easy Rider). Of those above, I think only 2LB does not have a named character die. The one death is an unknown person, shown only in the grisly aftermath of the collision. That scene packed a punch.

Really, the only reason to watch Damnation Alley is for the vehicle (or the unintentional humor).