- Ax 2013
Norman Spencer, Michael Pearson (executive) for Cupid Productions, 20th Century Fox
directed by Richard C.Sarafian
starring Barry Newman, Cleavon Little, Dean Jagger, Victoria Medlin, Paul Koslo, Robert Donner, Timothy Scott, Gilda Texter, Anthony James, Arthur Malet, Karl Swenson, Severn Darden, Delaney Bramlett, Bonny Bramlett, Lee Weaver, Cherie Foster, Valerie Kairys, Tom Reese, Owen Bush, John Amos, Rita Coolidge, David Gates
story outline by Malcolm Hart, screenplay by Guillermo Cain (= G.Cabrera Infante), music producer and supervisor: Jimmy Bowen
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Kowalski (Barry Newman), former bike racer, racecar driver, hero cop,
Vietnam veteran, now delivers cars from Denver to the West Coast, and with
his latest delivery, a Dodge Challenger, he wants to make the route
Denver-San Francisco in record time, because ... well, this part of the
story eludes me.
Soon, every cop in the country is after him, but he
again and again evades arrest, even if he has to enlist the help of an old
prospector (Dean Jagger), a hippie (Timothy Scott) or a nude motorbike
rider (Gilda Texter). And then there's blind DJ Supersoul (Cleavon
Little), who uses his radio show to turn him into the Last American
Hero - though it eludes what's heroic about crashing the cars of lots
of innocent drivers while running from the police - and give him tips as
to where the police is trying to trap him. And Kowalski's popularity soon
catches on, especially with the hippie movement - supposedly because
driving supercharged cars across the country really really fast is part of
the hippie ideology, right?
In the end though, Kowalski races right into
two caterpillars set up on the street by the police to stop him and ...
well, and the end.
By today, Vanishing Point is
celebrated as one of the landmark car chase movies - but supposedly mainly
by those who haven't seen it, because let's face it, the film is less than
good. Sure, it covers all the bases of your typical car chase movie -
meaning featuring a long car chase -, but Vanishing Point has
little to offer beyond that, the movie's ideological undercurrents are
ridiculous, its subplots are not at all thought through and randomly
abandoned, the actors are stiff and their characters are bland, and the
film's total lack of humour (and I'm not talking about Smokey
and the Bandit-kind humour here) is ... well, sad.
What we're left
with are quite a number of cool car stunts and lots of shots of a cool
muscle car racing over highways and byways - but that's not enough to make
a good film.