is an off-beat 1971 Road Movie
directed by Monte Hellman. It has an unusual cast: Dennis Wilson
, James Taylor
, Warren Oates and first-time actress Laurie Bird.
The sparse plot concerns two unnamed street racers in a Chevy 150, played by Taylor and Wilson, who get challenged to a cross-country race to Washington DC by a mysterious and blustery stranger in a Pontiac GTO. Along the way, the street racers pick up a young female hitch-hiker played by Bird, who enters into brief romances with all three men.
The film is remembered for its minimalist and existential presentation as well as its portrayal of classic Route 66 car culture.
This film contains examples of:
- Cool Car: The street racers drive a mean-looking, primer-grey Chevy 150. GTO, of course, drives a cherry GTO.
- Enforced Method Acting: The scene of the Girl begging was not filmed with actors. Bird simply asked passers-by for money while being recorded from a distance.
- Melting Film Effect: How the film ends, with no resolution to the story.
- Multiple-Choice Past: An early example: the stranger in the GTO gives a number of conflicting back-stories for himself. It's clear that they're all lies, because at the end he claims to have won his GTO by driving a Chevy 150, the car the other pair were driving.
- No Ending: The race simply evaporates toward the end of the film. Neither party is shown reaching Washington DC. The stranger is last seen lying about his past again and the street racers enter an unrelated drag race. In the end, the film stock simply burns away.
- No Name Given: None of the leads' names are given. In the credits they're listed as the Driver, the Mechanic, GTO and the Girl.
- Non-Actor Vehicle: Oates was the only lead actor with acting experience. Both of the street racers are played by musicians, and Bird was a first-time actress. She would go on to appear in two more roles before committing suicide at the age of 25.
- Road Trip Plot: A classic example.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Before the race, both cars' pink slips are mailed to DC. Since the film ends before either party gets to DC and everyone seems to have lost interest in the race, we never find out what happened to the pink slips. Did they all just decide to leave them in DC?