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Vanishing Point

By Sean Axmaker

Art film and road movie collide for Vanishing Point, an existential car chase across the desert in a post Easy Rider America. Barry Newman stars as Kowalski, a taciturn driver who bets that he can drive a new Dodge Challenger from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours. He loads up on amphetamines and begins his odyssey through the contemporary west while a funky black DJ (Cleavon Little) turns the driver into a folk hero and broadcasts advice on dodging the cops. It's like a counterculture precursor to Smokey and the Bandit, with the road as the last bastion of freedom and the DJ as a combination commentator and mystical guide. The slim plot offers a network of society drop-outs that aid the "last free Man on Earth" (as the DJ describes him) on his obscure but obviously symbolic quest while flashbacks paint Kowalski as a world-weary hero. It doesn't really make much sense, but the amazing car chases and excellent stunt work are stunningly set against the American west, beautifully captured by cinematographer John A. Alonzo. Vanishing Point is most assuredly a product of its time, the heady, anything-goes era of rebellion in the early 1970s.

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FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Soundtrack unavailable at Amazon.com - try eBay (see links below)Rated RNot on an American Film Institute 100 list

Director: Richard C. Sarafian

Stars: Barry Newman, Cleavon Little, Dean Jagger

Released: January 6, 1971

Availability: DVD VHS


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