Monday, 7 November 2011

"The Spencer Tracy of the '80s"

That's what the Los Angeles Times said, and I know what they meant. The above still, from a 1971 cult classic movie, even has echoes of my favourite Spencer Tracy movie, Bad Day at Black Rock.

The man standing in the Nevada desert was a hero of mine throughout the 1970s, and I suppose still is. If you're wondering about the movie, it may help you to know that the car is a 1970 Dodge Challenger. No? What about this: the distance from Denver, Colorado to San Francisco is 1,270 miles, and in the movie a car delivery contractor called Kowalski takes a bet that he can do it in fifteen hours – that's an average of just over 80 mph. Of course, the authorities are not as enthusiastic as the protagonist, and the result is the ultimate rebel without a cause road movie and, for my money, a whole series of better chase sequences even than Bullitt (which is saying something).

'Cool, with an edge', seems to sum up the critics' view of this man's acting persona through the 70s, 80s and 90s.

This is from the movie:-

Super Soul (a blind DJ following the star's exploits):  '...our lone driver, the last American hero, the electric centaur, the, the demi-god, the super driver of the golden west! Two nasty Nazi cars are close behind the beautiful lone driver. The police numbers are gettin' closer, closer, closer to our soul hero, in his soul mobile, yeah baby! They about to strike. They gonna get him. Smash him. Rape... the last beautiful free soul on this planet... The question is not when he's gonna stop, but who is gonna stop him.'

The movie is Vanishing Point and the star, Barry Newman – who happens to be 73 today.
blog comments powered by Disqus