• Ten (sixteen, actually) Reasons I Love
    Two-Lane Blacktop

    By Richard Linklater

    01   Because it’s the purest American road movie ever. 

    02   Because it’s like a drive-in movie directed by a French new wave director. 

    03   Because the only thing that can get between a boy and his car obsession is a girl, and Laurie Bird perfectly messes up the oneness between the Driver, the Mechanic, and their car.

    04   Because Dennis Wilson gives the greatest performance ever . . . by a drummer. 

    05   Because James Taylor seems like a refugee from a Robert Bresson movie, and has the chiseled looks of Artaud from Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc.

    06   Because there was once a god who walked the earth named Warren Oates.

    07   Because there’s a continuing controversy over who is the actual lead in this movie. There are different camps. Some say it’s the ’55 Chevy, some say it’s the GTO. But I’m  Goat man, I have a GTO—’68.

    08   Because it has the most purely cinematic ending in film history.

    09   Because it’s like a western. The guys are like old-time gunfighters, ready to outdraw the quickest gun in town. And they don’t talk about the old flames they’ve had, but rather old cars they’ve had. 

    10   Because Warren Oates has a different cashmere sweater for every occasion. And of course the wet bar in the trunk. 

    11   Because unlike other films of the era, with the designer alienation of the drug culture and the war protesters, this movie is about the alienation of everybody else, like Robert Frank’s The Americans come alive.

    12   Because Warren Oates, as GTO, orders a hamburger and an Alka-Seltzer and says things like “Everything is going too fast and not fast enough.”

    13   Because it’s both the last film of the sixties—even though it came out in ’71—and also the first film of the seventies. You know, that great era of “How the hell did they ever get that film made at a studio?/Hollywood would never do that today” type of films.

    14   Because engines have never sounded better in a movie.

    15   Because these two young men on their trip to nowhere don’t really know how to talk. The Driver doesn’t really converse when he’s behind the wheel, and the Mechanic doesn’t really talk when he’s working on the car. So this is primarily a visual, atmospheric experience. To watch this movie correctly is to become absorbed into it.

    16   And, above all else, because Two-Lane Blacktop goes all the way with its idea. And that’s a rare thing in this world: a completely honest movie.

    Filmmaker Richard Linklater originally presented this tribute at the 2000 South by Southwest in Austin, TX, as an introduction to a special screening of Two-Lane Blacktop, part of a retrospective of Hellman's work that Linklater helped coordinate. It also appeared in the Criterion Collection's 2007 DVD release of Two-Lane Blacktop.

8 comments

  • By Boris
    March 01, 2009
    11:08 AM

    What's the date on Linklater's "sixteen reasons"? I ask because half of them are absolutely identical to the observations that Danny Peary published in his GUIDE FOR THE FILM FANATIC back in the mid-1980s. The whole thing about the 2 men being unable to talk is ripped straight out of Peary's book. Come on! Is this a case of plagiarism on Linklater's part? Or is it a deliberate (albeit unattributed) homage to Peary? Either way, it stinks.
    Reply
  • By Mandy
    April 01, 2009
    10:54 AM

    In general, I find the lack of attributing the reviews to a publication annoying. Additionally, it makes me wonder if Criterion.com has sought permission to repost the reviews and articles. Please cite the publication and date of publication.
    Reply
  • By Rick
    May 25, 2011
    01:52 AM

    The date is at the bottom of the article. He presented it in 2000 st South by Southwest. Criterion does attribute articles where applicable, but a number of them were written for Criterion specifically.
    Reply
    • Or using your Criterion.com account.

      You are logged in to your Criterion.com account as . Log out.

    • By Boris
      December 15, 2011
      03:51 PM

      Thanks, Rick. Then it's pretty clear -- Linklater ripped off Danny Peary's observations and passed them off as his own. Despicable.
  • By Peter R
    July 19, 2013
    03:23 PM

    I think its one of the most boring road movies ever made. Ill take Vanishing Point over it anyday.
    Reply
    • Or using your Criterion.com account.

      You are logged in to your Criterion.com account as . Log out.

    • By Barry Moore
      July 19, 2013
      04:09 PM

      I tend to think the film is a bit overrated, though I do appreciate it as a quiet, moody example of personal filmmaking. I saw the film in a special double feature with 'The Shooting', director Monte Hellman being on hand afterwards for a Q-and-A, and he seemed like a most gracious person. I have yet to catch up with 'Vanishing Point'.
  • By gospodean
    July 22, 2013
    03:04 PM

    All I know is that, while screening it as a projectionist in a former life, the ending nearly gave me a heart attack. (c:
    Reply
    • Or using your Criterion.com account.

      You are logged in to your Criterion.com account as . Log out.

    • By Barry Moore
      July 22, 2013
      05:16 PM

      Anyone who has seen the film would certainly understand why the ending would be so alarming to a projectionist. This kind of motif would be unthinkable in a studio picture today. A uniquely cinematic metaphor of something mysterious and perhaps inexpressible by any other means.

Or using your Criterion.com account.

You are logged in to your Criterion.com account as . Log out.