Two-Lane Blacktop


Monte Hellman’s 1971 counterculture-sploitation movie Two-Lane Blacktop is an existential, cross-country car race flick, which is to say that it’s a little boring. Plot is a nonentity—two cool-cat ciphers with a cult-like dedication to their Chevy travel the American wasteland, racing for pink slips; they pick up a female hitchhiker and race a braggart in a G.T.O. (Warren Oates, with gusto) to Washington, D.C. It’s an intentionally sluggish movie—for all their dedication to fast cars, the characters have no forward momentum. The most compelling reason to watch is the oddball star pairing of musicians James Taylor (the Driver) and Dennis Wilson (the Mechanic). They’re not very good, but give them credit for being the two most unlikely stars of an existential car racing movie.