I’m not really sure what to say if you haven’t seen this movie already- Monte Hellman’s 1971 film about two 20 -somethings racing across the country is rooted in a corny premise that couldn’t get made today- but there is no denying that it appeals to the rugged individualist in us all. It’s the Easy Rider for car guys.

The weird part? It’s only got four main characters, James Taylor (The Driver) Dennis Wilson (The Mechanic) Warren Oates (GTO) and Laurie Bird (The Girl). Normally a couple of musicians in their one-and-only film roles would make me wince, but the fact that the dialogue is pretty scarce only manages to lend a personality to the ’55 Chevy that is in nearly every scene. They also don’t do any corny shit like pick up a guitar and try to serenade anyone, either.

Yes, that is James Taylor.

Make it three yards, motherfucker, and we'll have us an automobile race.

Not be overshadowed by these two, Warren Oates stars as a middle-aged guy (presumably kicked out out of the house by his old lady) that decides to take a trip across country in his brand-new ’70 GTO to clear out some cobwebs. Since character development isn’t a strong point of this movie, Oates gets into some weird situations with hitch-hikers and manages to tell a different story to them everytime- the only thing we know is that he’s trying to beat the Chevy to Washington D.C., otherwise he loses a pink slip.

This is competition, man. I've got no time.

This is competition, man. I've got no time.

Laurie Bird is the hippy-dippy chick that floats in between the two cars, and ends up getting it on with both The Driver and The Mechanic, only to leave them both towards the end of the film. We never really know if anyone won the race, or what even happens to the respective characters (not like we know where they came from anyways). It’s really a story about obsession and the open road, and presumably there shouldn’t be an ending or beginning. It’s also a movie women simply don’t get.

Check out the trailer below or click on over to the Wiki page for more information.


When not at ESM, Chris can be found cycling up and down the Santa Monica Bay, re-engineering a turkey fryer into a pizza oven or reading about survival techniques in the Gobi desert.