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#103- Two-Lane Blacktop

Thanks to Andy (that guy I married) for suggesting this movie, although I’m a little disappointed it wasn’t literally about a road.

Quick recap: Two guys (called simply The Driver and The Mechanic) love to race cars. Like- REALLY love to race cars. There’s kind of a plot about a race to Washington DC with a rival car (G.T.O) but most of the movie is centered around the guys talking about cars, driving cars, or hitting on the hot hitchhiker they picked up (The Girl).

Whatcha thinking about? Oh,I stuff, I guess.

Whatcha thinking about?
Oh,I dunno….car stuff, I guess.

Fun (?) fact: This was James Taylor’s and Dennis Wilson’s (of the Beach Boys) only acting performance.

My thoughts: One of my favorite activities the past few years has been to go out and drive around aimlessly for a few hours a couple of times a week. It relaxes me to no end sipping on a cup of coffee and listening to my music, not really caring where I end up. Two-Lane Blacktop captures aimless driving perfectly for me. The Driver and The Mechanic don’t need a reason to hit the road but they do because in their mind, what else is there to do?

It’s hard to put my finger on what I enjoyed so much about this movie, meaning I know EXACTLY why I enjoyed this movie so much: James Taylor and Dennis Wilson. I can’t say they did a superb acting job, unless you count staring as a sign of a great acting performance. If that were the case then they would win an Academy Award for sure. The thing is, Two-Lane Blacktop doesn’t call for much in the form of acting. The point of the movie is centered on a couple of guys who live and breathe cars. When they have to talk, which happens rarely, it is something technical about cars. The Mechanic is the more polite of the two, answering questions when The Girl decides to ride with them across the country, but of course he would be polite because he gets to answer questions about cars. The two seem telepathic at times, like when they stop for gas. The Driver gets what he needs and The Mechanic starts in on his job, fixing what needs to be done, all without saying a word. They never disagree or even ask each other’s opinion because they already know the answer.

G.T.O on the other hand, provides a great contrast to the Driver and The Mechanic. Although he has a very fast, flashy car, he knows next to nothing about it. When he meets up with the other two, he challenges them to a race across the country with the winner taking possession of both cars. For the most part, G.T.O stays focused on winning while the other two get off track several times. Either they know they would win anyway or they are just in the race because it means getting to be in the car even longer. At the end of the movie, everyone sort of forgets about the competition and stops to participate in a drag race.

My one issue with the movie was the ending, which just stops at some point while The Driver is in a drag race. It doesn’t bother me that there was no resolution to the plot about racing to Washington DC because even if there was a winner, The Driver and The Mechanic would’ve just continued on their way, although maybe with a different car. What bothered me was that I kept expecting the plot to build up to something and it didn’t. If I watched it again, I would know what to expect and just enjoy it.

Final review: 4/5. I’ve always thought that if I could choose a decade to live in, it would be the 60s but after watching Two-Lane Blacktop, I’m definitely meant for the 70s.

Up Next: American Graffiti, a movie about cars made in the 1970s. I’m starting to notice a trend here.

7 responses to “#103- Two-Lane Blacktop

  1. Rick McKay ⋅

    saw the movie at a drive-in. yeah, one of those with the speaker hanging on the window. and you know what? when the movie ended I thought the same thing you did. when the cameras stopped rolling, the story continues.

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  6. Paul S

    I well remember watching Two-Lane Blacktop for the first time back in the late 80s, early 90s, I played my VHS recording for years until it finally wore out. The Criterion Collection release of this film is the most cherished part of my movie memorabilia collection. It doesn’t matter how many times I dip into this film, I never get tired of watching it.

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