Archive of films Two-Lane Blacktop / Two-Lane Blacktop

1971, 103 min

Section: New Hollywood
Year: 2007

This low-budget road movie and cult film tells the story of two young drag racers on their way to nowhere in a 1955 Chevrolet, a middle-aged man in a newish yellow Pontiac GTO, and a gloomy hitchhiker. Director Monte Hellman offers a bleakly laconic rebuttal to the romantic enthrallment with the long-haired heroes in Easy Rider (1969).


Two drag racers in a 1955 Chevrolet, a driver and a mechanic, and a middle-aged man in a newish yellow Pontiac GTO meet by chance on a road from nowhere to nowhere. Their race across the American Southwest takes on the same gist: just a listless encounter, a passing of ways on a landscape that is endlessly far away beyond the windscreen. There’s a quiet and gloomy hitchhiker to be had as a prize for the winner, if there were a winner – and if she were not a hostage to her own freedom. Universal Studios was dreaming of “another Easy Rider”, but what it got was something more. This low budget road movie is the icy response of director Monte Hellman (who also worked on the film as an editor) to the romantic enthrallment with long-haired heroes on motorcycles. The drifting of the unnamed protagonists (played by musicians Dennis Wilson, James Taylor, and, Hellman’s favourite, Warren Oates) has a distinctly existential dimension: a senseless race, the end of which is a strong image of alienation and faithlessness in the future of America at the beginning of the 1970’s.

About the director

Monte Hellman (b. 1932, New York) started out under the patronage of Roger Corman. Hellman’s directorial debut came with the low-budget horror Beast from Haunted Cave (1959), and his road movie Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) acheived cult status. His filmography also includes the war story Back Door to Hell (1964) starring novice actor Jack Nicholson, with whom he also made the subversive western Ride in the Whirlwind, 1965) and The Shooting (1969). Sam Peckinpah also played in one of his westerns, Amore, piombo e furore (1978). As assistant director he contributed to the sci-fi RoboCop (Paul Verhoeven, 1987) and was the second unit director of the war drama The Big Red One (Samuel Fuller, 1980). Hellman was the executive producer of Quentin Tarantino’s debut Reservoir Dogs (1992).


100 Universal City Plaza, CA 91608, Universal City
United States of America
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About the film

Color, 35 mm

Section: New Hollywood
Director: Monte Hellman
Screenplay: Rudy Wurlitzer, Will Corry
Dir. of Photography: Jack Deerson
Music: Billy James
Editor: Monte Hellman
Producer: Michael Laughlin, Gary Kurtz
Production: Michael Laughlin Productions, Universal
Cast: James Taylor, Warren Oates, Laurie Bird, Dennis Wilson, David Drake, Richard Ruth
Contact: Universal


Monte Hellman

Film Director / Producer


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