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Film / The Driver

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"You play against me, pal, you're gonna lose. You win, you make some money. I win, you're gonna do fifteen years. How 'bout it, driver?"
The Detective

The Driver is a 1978 crime/car chase film directed by Walter Hill and starring Ryan O'Neal, Bruce Dern, and Isabelle Adjani. The film is also notable for its impressive car chases, its no-frills style of filmmaking, and its rarely speaking, unnamed titular character.

The 2011 movie Drive (2011) and its blond, taciturn protagonist were heavily inspired by this movie, as was the PlayStation classic Driver, whose notoriously hard tutorial mission was based on a scene here.

The main character is the Trope Maker of the trope The Driver.


This film provides examples of:

  • Art Imitates Art: The major visual influence on the film was the works of artist Edward Hopper.
  • Badass Driver: Sure he is.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The Driver is a dangerous criminal after all, and works for some pretty rotten people.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Or does he?
  • Doesn't Like Guns: "I told you I don't like guns." Though he is willing to use one when he needs to.
  • Good Is Not Nice
  • Hassle-Free Hotwire: The film opens with The Driver stealing a car by crossing two wires (although he does also connect the power wire to to the "run" wire after starting it to keep it running)
  • Limited Wardrobe: Looks like a set rule: One outfit per character
  • Nameless Narrative / No Name Given: Not one character has a name in this movie, and are all addressed by their occupation or clothing.
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  • Off on a Technicality: Justified in the end. When he reveals the bag is empty, even though the Detective has circumstantial evidence, without the money, he doesn't have anything that would guarantee a conviction, so any trial would only waste taxpayer dollars.
  • Stealing from Thieves: When the driver has completed the heist, and eluded pursuit by both the police and the double-crossing punks, the detective thinks he's finally caught this outlaw as he's carrying a valet case full of money, and makes the arrest... but the case is empty, so there's no incriminating evidence.
    The Detective: Looks like we both got gypped by the exchange man.
  • The Quiet One: The driver is a man of few words - 350 in all.
  • Re-Cut: Walter Hill's original cut was two hours long and included one additional action (but not chase) scene, and even though for years even the VHS tapes had said the length was over two hours, Hill has denied that this version was ever his intended cut and categorically stated that the existence of a longer director's cut is an urban myth. The US DVD includes an introductory sequence that the studio forced Hill to shoot to clarify who the characters are as a deleted scene, but this was dropped from all theatrical prints.