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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Comedy > Car Chase > Race > Mystery > Vanishing Point (1971/20th Century Fox Blu-ray)

Vanishing Point (1971/20th Century Fox Blu-ray)

 

Picture: B†††† Sound: B-†††† Extras: B-†††† Film: B

 

 

Before the bandit/chase cycle peaked with Smokey & The Bandit, the earliest films presented the amusing idea that you could ride away from civilization/the law/society and maybe get away with it.Maybe you did not have to hurt or kill anyone and not even steal anything, but just ride around in a car any way you liked and sooner or later, some squares would want to rain on your parade.The choice is either to quit (yawn!) or keep being defiant.Along with Monte Hellmanís Two Lane Blacktop the same year, Richard C. Sarafianís Vanishing Point (1971) is the other great existential car chase film that has several things going for it.

 

One, they loves cars.Two, they love subversion with cars.Three, they love people who drive cars like madmen.Four, they love and define one of the countercultureís touchstones for freedom, which developed into the road movie.Five, they love people who really literally put themselves out on the edge to nowhere.Six, they love energy and guts.Seven, they know fun is too often the opposite of good behavior.Yet, both films say something deeper in their messages as the films can no longer hold the chases to the big screen by the time all is said and done.

 

Here, we get Barry Newman as Kowalski, who is delivering a beautiful new Dodge Challenger but gets into trouble when he tries to make the delivery in 15 hours from Denver, Colorado to San Francisco, California!Instead, the authorities would like to deliver him to the slammer!In between, the film is fun and not always told in order.

 

The cast also includes Cleavon Little as blind disc jockey Super Soul who is only encouraging the madness on his radio station, Dean Jagger, Karl Swenson, Severn Darden and the music act Delaney & Bonnie (Bramley) as part of the off-beat cast as all of this transpires.Charlotte Rampling is in the longer U.K. version, which is even better, while two great character actors (John Amos & Val Avery) as well as two even more famous singer/songwriters (David Gates of Bread and Rita Coolidge) also show up uncredited, but it is great when you see them.

 

But now more than ever, the Challenger (now going for $100,000+ in the best shape) is also the star, but not as ad placement, but as dream machine and good ship that defined Detroitís muscle cars at their peak.But then there is the conclusion of the film itself.What happened?Thatís for you to watch and find out.

 

 

The 1080p AVC @ 23 MBPS digital High Definition image looks pretty good in both cuts (seamless branching or not) considering its age and similar films (Omega Man, Enter The Dragon) we have seen on Blu-ray.Except for good film footage I have seen of the film, it has never looked this good otherwise, with the white Challenger holding its off-white color very nicely.Detail is decent, but there is also a great use of depth, telephoto lenses and some scenes are just dusty from all the car chases.The great Director of Photography John A. Alonzo (Harold & Maude, Lady Sings The Blues, Chinatown, Black Sunday) delivers some of the most vital work of his career here among many great films he lensed.Any HDTV hooked to a Blu-ray player needs to have this one.

 

The DTS HD Master Audio (MA) lossless 5.1 mix does its best to upgrade the old optical mono sound, sometimes having some stereo separation that sounds good and there are new D-BOX bass punctuations for those with that system.Other moments show their age, but it is superior to the Dolby Mono options in three languages included for purists.

 

Extras include an interactive 1970 Dodge Challenger piece, Virtual Dashboard, Trivia Challenge on the film, feature length audio commentary by Director Sarafian, theatrical trailer, TV spots, Cars, Cops & Culture Ď70s Trivia Track and these featurettes: Built For Speed, OA-5599 and Super Soul Me.

 

 

-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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