Two-Lane Blacktop - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Two-Lane Blacktop Reviews

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Super Reviewer
October 16, 2013
The year 1971 was a phenomenon for minimalist,existential road movies because,released just months apart were "Vanishing Point" with Barry Newman that was released by 20th Century-Fox,and this little gem "Two-Lane Blacktop" that was released by Universal Pictures. In that same year Esquire magazine made that unprecedented move of publishing Rudolph Wurlitzer's entire screenplay for "Two-Lane Blacktop" declaring the film its pick for "movie of the year!" on the front cover. Unfortunately,it was not as this film was up against some big heavy hitters at the boxoffice that year in which three films that were "cop" thrillers dominated respectively
"Shaft", "The French Connection",and "Dirty Harry" in the cinemas. The big surprise and the shocker of the Oscars was when "The French Connection" took the honors and the Oscars as the best movie of 1971 beating out the heavily favorite "Fiddler On The Roof" that year. But getting back to "Two-Lane Blacktop" this movie preceded the successful "Easy Rider" as the next to the last of the existential road pictures that were all over the place during the mid-1960's and all through the decade of the 1970's. However this cult classic was unavailable for years on video until 1999 surviving in the meantime on occasional television airings on nightly late shows and ending up being screened on college campuses and in second-run theaters and drive-ins. It built up a cult following(including Werner Herzog,who helped campaign for its video release through Universal MCA Home Video)and was eventually recognized by the Library of Congress National Film Registry and the Criterion Collection,and was credited as one of the inspirations for the real-life Cannonball Run. Not bad for a film about a couple of guys with no names,driving route 66. But in some aspects,this film made the theatrical debuts of two musicians...One was North Carolina native James Taylor(who in fact is a graduated of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was raise and born in Chapel Hill,North Carolina),and the other was "Beach Boy" singer Dennis Wilson. There isn't a whole hell of a lot of plot to "Two-Lane Blacktop" other than James Taylor and Dennis Wilson cruisin down the highway in a 1955 Chevy with a teen hitchhiker(actress Laurie Bird,who became involved with director Monte Hellman and later have a relationship with Art Garfunkel,before her untimely death in 1979)who are known solely as The Driver and The Mechanic. Their racing against Warren Oates,an older fellow with a 1970 Pontiac GTO and a propensity for self-aggrandizement. From a standpoint,the film is not only a marvel,but a timeless cult classic that still brings a strong sense of realism along with its spectacular editing that perfectly fits the era. The result is standard entertainment that is to be seen. Look for an early Harry Dean-Stanton in a hilarious scene as a hitchhiker who tries to help Oates "relax". Also the soundtrack to "Two-Lane Blacktop" is an outstanding result. Check out the seldom-heard original version(which is on the soundtrack album to the motion picture) of "Me and Bobby McGee" by Kris Kristofferson as well as seldom heard material from both James Taylor and Dennis Wilson. A Bonafide classic masterpiece
½ June 15, 2013
A real drifter, tumbleweed in the wind kind of film that now has reached cult status.

James Taylor is fantastic as the driver (although he says very little) and just mysteriously has this presence that works for the film.

It's a simple film a driver & mechanic travel the US dragging for money for gas & food and I guess it's more about the journey.

Although slow mid way it does draw you in & is an interesting film, you won't see the ending coming or may even like it....
May 11, 2013
Though it ends far too soon, Two-Lane Black top is a riveting time capsule film about people who live for the road and cannot relate to anything outside of it.
½ April 16, 2013
the purest MacGuffin
March 18, 2013
Less of a statement of the times than 1969's Easy Rider, Two-Lane Blacktop is a stream of consciousness road-movie that provides a glimpse of racer culture and American backroad vistas, and the curiosity value of musicians James Taylor and Dennis Wilson giving acting a try. Neither are particularly challenged by the minimalist dialogue, but Wilson is more at ease than Taylor, who looks somewhat out of place amongst the petrol-heads. Warren Oates' confabulating GTO driver is the real star at work, and there is also a naive but appealing performance by the tragic Laurie Bird (director Monte Hellman & later Art Garfunkel's muse) as The Girl who plonks herself in random cars driven by strange good-looking men and is happy for them to drive her anywhere that isn't home. Oddly for a film made in 1971 there are absolutely no drug references whatsoever, although there is one lovely vignette in an Oklahoma diner where a clean-cut racer-boy enquires, "Y'all aren't hippies now, are ya?"
February 5, 2013
Greatest road movie in my book.. Great scenery!
½ January 28, 2013
For a petrolhead, it's a sublime film. The soothing sounds of an engine, scant dialogue mixed with pure Americana. Loved it.
Super Reviewer
January 26, 2013
1971 was quite a year for minimalist, existential road movies, because, released just months apart were Vanishing Point, and this little gem, Two-Lame Blacktop. Of course, they were also preceded by the similar Easy Rider, but still, it blows my mind how this all happened in the span of just a few years.

The plot is so bare it almost really doesn't exist. We get two guys known solely as The Driver and The Mechanic who make a living aimlessly driving from town to town across the southwest in their '55 primer gray Chevy challenging anyone they can to drag races to make a little cash for food. One day they take on GTO, a driver of the eponymous 1970 car, and challenge him to a cross country race t Washington D.C. for pink slips...and that's pretty much it. Oh yeah, and there's a girl of course.

From a technical standpoint, the film is quite a marvel. I love the sparseness of it, it's got a strong sense of style that perfectly fits the era, and it's shot, framed, and edited very well. It's also quite faithful and authentic to the culture of the automobile.

The performances are fine, given the material, and I'm curious as to why musicians James Taylor and Dennis Wilson (Driver and Mechanic, respectively), didn't take on more acting gigs. Warren Oates is also good as GTO.

All in all, this isn't a film for everyone, but it's worth watching if you can tap into its specific groove, sit back, and relax.
½ January 19, 2013
Two-Lane Blacktop is a very thought provoking road movie of the 70's. The idea of driver being directionless is an extremely direct metaphor that remains relevant to this day.
January 15, 2013
Dreadful. Even viewed through the filter of the 1970's, the film fails to create any sense of coherent narrative, and then avoids concluding what traces of narrative there are. Some viewers may also find the presence of an apparently pre-pubescent girl as the lead romantic interest disturbing - I certainly did.
½ January 12, 2013
There's quite a bit to think about here, at least from a filmmaking perspective (such as the casting of non-actors like James Taylor.) Storywise it is hard to tell if they're reaching for anything beyond the guys racing to D.C.
½ January 7, 2013
Warren Oates is gold as GTO, the constantly fibbing racing rival to James Taylor and Dennis Wilson. The other two musicians acting isn't too bad in this existential kind of Easy Rider
½ December 28, 2012
A road film that is quite mellow.
December 3, 2012
An existential masterpiece. A cold-eyed meditation on armored solitude and loneliness. This is a film to absorb rather than just watch. One of the best endings, ever. A+
December 3, 2012
Ett högoktanigt destilat på New Hollywood vars estetik ständigt nya generationer av filmskapare återvänder till. I den meningen en tidlös klassiker.
October 21, 2012
The most important road movie of all time, and one of the greatest American films.
This film found a whole area of unexplored territory for American cinematic style. It didn't didn't just dwell in this exploration, it pushed it to a more natural level to fit the style of the film. While it does that, it remains true to the pureness of it all, the road, itself, and it's attitude. I didn't expect to find as much meaning and brilliance as I did.
A masterpiece.
October 7, 2012
A good movie with a couple of bad ass cars. warning: the ending is kinda dumb
September 4, 2012
A slow moving little film that meanders around with some gear-heads that find themselves in a cross country race with a fairly nutty acting Warren Oates, who is driving a GTO. The film moves along at a slow pace despite the racing theme, and the characters all seem to just be drifting through their lives, it's interesting as a character study but may not be all that engaging if you aren't a car person.

It's an interesting film, though nothing so enthralling that I would recommend watching late at night or anything, unless you know you'll stay up for it.

I will say that I have had it grow for me in leaps and bounds on a re-watch off the To-Watch Pile, upping it an entire star rating here.

Recommended. Check it out.
August 31, 2012
nice cinematic touches all around....framing of shots, angles. loved the near silent finish and "fade"....warren oates was great also....
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