SEPTEMBER 6, 2011: ‘VANISHING POINT’ IS ON A SHORT LIST OF CINEMA’S MOST PERFECT MOVIES

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‘Vanishing Point’ was released in 1971 as a movie that was essentially about an anti-hero in the traditional ‘fight-the- power’ sense of the late 60s and early 70s.

 

Think ‘Easy Rider’ on four wheels without Dennis Hopper giggling his way through the movie.

 

The movie is about a delivery guy that gets to deliver vehicles to customers in distant locations.

 

He is a decorated soldier, former police officer, and erstwhile stock car driver.

 

The heart of Kowalski (the main character) lies in his sense of fair play while he breaks all the rules along the way. Bear in mind that the movie was filmed in the early 70s when movies reflected the rebellious youthful mood at the time.

 

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The prevailing attitude in movies of that era was rebellion for a cause, although a sleep-deprived delivery driver that appears to be hooked on speed would seem to be a lost cause. In the cold light of reality, a giant lost cause.

 

But the essence of Kowalski was his heroic past. His admirable principles became obvious through past vignettes-even as the movie hurtled along a perilous path of high speed driving, wrecks and several felony driving violations.

 

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So what actually placed ‘Vanishing Point’ on a short list of perfect movies? There were  several reasons to place the movie on the list.

 

The first was the great soundtrack during the movie. The idea was obviously lifted straight from the pages of ‘Easy Rider’ and ‘The Strawberry Statement’, but “a good idea is a good idea“; to quote philosopher Marge Simpson.

 

Early 70s performers like Mountain and Delaney & Bonnie & Friends and Bob Segarini were a fundamental part of the soundtrack. The mix ranged from country to soul to folk to rock along the way.

 

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The second reason was a movie that was light on dialogue and heavy on driving action in a 90-minute car chase sense. The sequence where Kowalski encounters a nut job in a Jag was worth the price of admission alone as Kowalski matches Detroit iron against an overrated European ride.

 

The third reason was the naked chick on the motorbike. Any movie that has a well-tanned naked chick with classic early 70s long blonde hair gets closer to the perfect label- a lot closer.

 

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The fourth reason for a perfect movie was the car. A 1970 Hemi Challenger (that authorities in the movie had reason to believe was super-charged) is in on the first ballot.

 

The last reason was the incredible ending to the movie. For those of you that may not have seen it, I will not give away the conclusion. Suffice to say that you will be surprised, unless you already understand the movie culture of that era.

 

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Final word of caution: do NOT, under any circumstances, watch the TV remake of this classic movie.

 

It sucks so much that it will leave a large ugly permanent scar on your soul.

 

Jim Sutherland

More stories and many car opinions at https://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/

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