Moviedrome Mondays: Vanishing Point (1971) and The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947) (Mark Cousins intro)

This week’s Moviedrome Monday blog entry is a double-bill consisting of a 1940’s film noir and a 1970’s neo-noir.

Vanishing Point (1971)

Since I could not find a youtube video link to Moviedrome presenter Mark Cousins introduction to director Richard C. Sarafian’s 1971 cult classic Vanishing Point, readers will have to rely on Cousins intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was January 18, 1998 (read here). Not much to add here, except that I agree with everything Cousins says here about this gem of a road movie.

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947)

Once again, I could not find a youtube video link to Moviedrome presenter Mark Cousins introduction to director Felix E. Feist’s 1947 film noir gem The Devil Thumbs a Ride, readers will have to rely on Cousins intro transcript here. The episode’s original airdate was January 18, 1998 (read here). Once again, I am in complete agreement with Cousins on this one.

I could not find a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer


8 thoughts on “Moviedrome Mondays: Vanishing Point (1971) and The Devil Thumbs a Ride (1947) (Mark Cousins intro)

  1. Now we’re talkin’! Vanishing Point is a great film. I’m a big fan of it. It is the definition of a cult classic.
    It’s one of the greatest cult movies ever and one of the greatest road movies ever too.

    The car’s the star in Vanishing Point. The Dodge Challenger is a great set of wheels and it sure gets a great workout in the film. Another obvious highlight of the film are the car chases and stunts which are incredible and spectacular and I think they’re the greatest car chases in movie history. They are amazing, thrilling and exhilarating. The kudos has to go to the stunt driver Carey Loftin. He truly excelled in this film.

    Richard C. Sarafian did a superb job directing. His direction of the chases is exhilarating. Kudos must also be given to the great director of photography John A. Alonzo. His shots of the scenery and the desert throughout the film are incredible and he films the chases brilliantly.

    Newman is good as Kowalski. Apparently Sarafian wanted Gene Hackman to play Kowalski. Somehow I can’t picture Hackman as Kowalski. Newman is a good fit for the character. I suppose there were other actors that would’ve been good in the role too. Steve McQueen for one. Newman is so identified with the film and the character though that I’m sure many could only see him in the role.
    He was also excellent in Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey.

    The script is good and well written.Kowalski’s back story is shown in flashbacks. These flashbacks show how he became the film’s drug consuming outlaw countercultural “hero”. There’s also irony that a former cop is now pursued by the cops. His fate at the end appears to be inevitable.

    The UK cut of the film has a scene with Charlotte Rampling playing a hitchhiker picked up at night by Kowalski. It’s a good scene. It’s a good scene which explains why he’s really going to San Fran. It’s good that the fabulous Charlotte Rampling is in this scene. I have a preference for the UK cut of the film. The encounters with various people that Kowalski has in the film are quite good but they obviously can’t compare to the on the road action. The Charlotte Rampling scene is an exception. The girl on a motorcycle scene is obviously good too.

    The soundtrack is great too with many very good songs throughout. I especially like the closing song Nobody Knows which was perfect for the ending.

    Overall Vanishing Point is a great film and a cult classic and is highly recommended.

    Another film I would categorise Vanishing Point with is Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974) starring Peter Fonda. That’s also a great film and has really great car chases and stunts too. It doesn’t have the countercultural aspects of Vanishing Point though. It’s different in that it’s a crime/action movie.
    Crazy Larry and Kowalski were later in The Limey. It was really cool to see the two movie road kings of the ’70s on screen together.

    I think it’s a pity that Vanishing Point wasn’t shown on Alex Cox’s era of Moviedrome. It would’ve been absolutely perfect for Alex’s Moviedrome and I think he would’ve done a great intro for it as he likes the film. He wrote a piece about Vanishing Point on his blog. This is practically a Moviedrome intro:

    I haven’t seen the second film in this double bill.

  2. Vanishing Point is one of my favourites. I love the muscle cars of that era, love the open roads, the music, and I even love the ending as Kowalski’s β€œsoul goes free”.

  3. So sorry for the late response Steve πŸ™‚ I echo your words completely on Vanishing Point πŸ™‚ I read somewhere that the film has influenced directors like Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino and Edgar Wright to name just a few πŸ™‚

    The car chase sequences and stunts are amazing as you indeed spectacular πŸ™‚ I too think that Carey Loftin deserves just as much credit for the results πŸ™‚

    As for it’s director Richard C. Sarafian, this may be his best work and If it isn’t, it is undoubtedly high up there πŸ™‚ John A. Alonzo’s cinemagraphy – especially its use of space :), editing and sound πŸ™‚

    In the end, I think Barry Nelson was perfect for the role πŸ™‚ Speaking of Gene Hackman, he won Best Lead Actor as Popeye Doyle in another 1971 classic involving the use of cars, which was William Friedkin’s The French Connection πŸ™‚ I know you are aware about Mark Kermode’s 1998 documentary on The Exorcist, but did you ever get to watch his 2000 documentary on The French Connection entitled The Poughkeepsie Shuffle? πŸ™‚

    I too prefer the 106 minute-cut – I mean both of them are great, but the 106 minute cut seems to add an extra layer of mystery to an already great film πŸ™‚ Plus, I love Charlotte Rampling πŸ™‚

    Interesting that you mention Dirty Mary Crazy Larry because Vic Morrow (who played Sheriff Franklin) demanded a $1 million dollar life insurance policy to cover him since he was performing a stunt involving a helicopter. When asked why about the demand, Morrow responded with “I have always had a premonition that I’ll be killed in a helicopter crash!” Chilling isn’t it? As you know, he and two Vietnemesse children were killed during the filming of the John Landis directed segment of 1983’s Twilight Zone: The Movie.

    I too wish that Vanishing Point could have been shown during the Alex Cox years of Moviedrome because it seemed right up his alley πŸ™‚ I also read that piece he wrote on the film on his blog and yes, it does play out like one of his Moviedrome intros – then again, everything he introduces or talks about can’t help but play out like one of his Moviedrome intros and I mean that as a high compliment πŸ™‚

    P.S. I am working on my review of Je t’aime moi non plus – It should be ready sometime in February – sorry for the delay, this month has been kind of busy πŸ™‚

  4. Same here Pete πŸ™‚ If I were to compile a double-bill of two great films where a car plays a central role in it’s plot, I would choose Two-Lane Blacktop and Vanishing Point πŸ™‚ Coincidentally, they both came out in 1971 πŸ™‚ Anyway, thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

  5. I echo your sentiments completely Paul S πŸ™‚ In fact, I told Pete that Vanishing Point should be shown on a double-bill with Two Lane Blacktop as they are both classic cult road movies πŸ™‚ Anyway, thanks for dropping by πŸ™‚

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