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Total insanity, what’s his hurry?!

January 17, 2014

Vanishing Point (1971)

Wednesday, January 22nd

Film starts at 8pm

Lady Jay’s633 Grand St between Manhattan & Leonard, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Free Popcorn, Juke Box Meccanica, $2 Bingo for Prizes, PRIZES!

 

California – Sunday 10:02am

Opening credits roll over vast expanses of open road. Old men with stern faces and slow moving bulldozers creating a roadblock across the highway. Sirens break the calm as a super charged 1970 white Dodge Challenger flies by followed by a helicopter close behind.

The challenger’s driver, Kowalski (Barry Newman), seemingly unbothered by the cops on his tail, steps out of the Challenger and pauses by a heap of twisted, rusting metal on the side of the road for a reflective moment of silent.

Two days earlier: Denver Colorado – Friday 11:02pm

Kowalski, a speed popping, cross country car delivery man, Bets his dealer the tab for the bennies that he can’t make it to Frisco by 3 o’clock the next day.“The race is On”

CB cop 1: Total insanity! What’s his hurry?

CB cop 2: Your guess is as good as ours. 10-4

Driving like a bat out of hell across the American roadways, flashbacks allude to the demons Kowalski is trying to outrun. This race isn’t about the tab for the bennies, or his commitment to deliver the car for a job. It’s Kowalski’s trip and he’s got nothing to lose. Running a motorcycle cop off the road, flashes to Kowalski’s dirt racing days and a close call on the track. Sending a windbag hot-rodder flying into a pond and totaling his Jag, flashes to a stock car race and a multi car pile up with Kowalski upside down and bloodied in the wreck.

Hey Kowalski, you out there?

A blond pump attendant with sad eyes, flashes to his days as a cop with a no good partner who abuses his authority by trying to take advantage of a young girl. Kowalski steps in, but it’s clear that ended his carear in law enforcement. The solitude of the desert flash to a lost love. A beautiful surfer girl and a calm day on the beach. “Sayonara, remember me” as she runs into the winter surf, never to return.

There goes the Challenger. Being chased by the blue, blue meanies on wheels. The vicious traffic squad cars are after our known driver. The last American hero. The electric centaur, the demigod, the super driver of the golden west. Two nasty cars are behind the lone driver. The police numbers are getting closer, closer, closer to our soul hero in his soul mobile. “They’re gonna get him. Smash him. Rape the last beautiful, free soul on this planet.

Super Soul, the blind DJ at KOW (Kowalski) radio station, listens to the cops chatter over the CB. He’s tuned into Kowalski’s moves in advance and knows just what and when to broadcast to help him evade the cops. Kowalski doesn’t appear to have every asked for the help or even know the DJ, and Super Soul acts as the Oepipal chorus. The invisible voice of the oppressed soul that Kowalski embodies.

The question is not when’s he gonna stop, but who is gonna stop him.

As Super Soul broadcasts, people begin to gather in the streets in rallied support of Kowalski. The cops attempt to silence Super Soul, but the cops haven’t estimated the power of the anti hero.

Almost every single shot of the film includes a vehicle. The super charged Challenger and it’s reckless, broken young driver is a sharp contrast to the rusted out, forgotten pickup trucks along the road, though there seems to be a comradery and respect between the two.

Patiently. That’s the only way to wait for somebody.

Helped by a biker and his naked Honda riding girlfriend who’s followed his race career and fraudulent frame up as a dirty cop, Kowalski gets a fresh supply of bennies and a mini bike rigged to the top of his car, headlight flashing to disguise the Callenger as a cop car. With this rig, he tears through the cops blocking the California border, and we are brought full circle to where the film opened. A long stretch of highway with two bulldozers blocking the road, now surrounded by spectators, cops, and news reporters. Super Soul pleads with Kowalski to take it slow, but knows it’s no use.

For the first time, Kowalski’s stone face, always intent on the road, cracks into a smile and his blood shot eyes light up. It’s as if he’s driven right through the hell of his past and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. He’s missed his deadline and lost the bet, but there’ll be a next time, and more friendly bets of bennies to justify them. It’s a man and his car and nothing else. The open road the speed to forget.

WHAM! Straight into the dozers at record speeds, and the credits roll while the media and gawkers pick at the carcass of the crumpled hero.

– Corinna Mantlo

Full album of screen shots HERE

TRAILER

Read all about the cars in the film on IMCBDb1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, with a 440 cubic-inch V-8, and not a 426 Hemi V-8 (as is often believed). Eight white Challengers loaned from the Chrysler Corporation were used during the filming.

The Challenger had Colorado plates: OA-5599

A 1967 Camaro shell (no engine) loaded with explosives was used for the final crash. You can see the “Camaro” fender nameplate upside-down in the lower left corner of the screen after the crash.

cmjan2014

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