The Driver (1978)

Ah, the memories. This and Alien (1979): Dad and I going to the duplex to see this together, as mom wanted no part of burning rubber (even with Ryan O’Neal from Love Story starring) or “gooey human-bug people,” (her words).

We named-dropped this film a few times during our “Exploring: The Clones of the Fast and the Furious,” as directors Nicolas Winding Refn and Edgar Wright both cite this seminal Walter Hill effort (The Warriors) as a major influence over their respective films Driver and Baby Driver. Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill: Volume 2 pinch shots from The Driver. Yeah, it’s that good.

As with Driver and Baby Driver: The Driver was an art film — not a Bronson, Eastwood, or McQueen action film. Overseas, the film was as a smash, due to its French “New Wave” style. And Americans stayed away in droves, but of course.

The plot, at its core, is a western: a tale of a cowboy that can’t be caught and the sheriff that thinks otherwise — with O’Neal’s getaway driver the bane of a detective played Bruce Dern. And as with Two-Lane Blacktop: character names are dispensed and they are known for who they are: Driver and Detective.

There’s no online streams — freebie or VOD — but if you hit You Tube and Google and search “The Driver 1978,” you’ll find a plethora of clips from the film. Here’s one of the car chases for you (darn you, embed elves!). You can easily purchase vintage VHS tapes, along with legal DVDs and Blus on Amazon.

I suggest The Driver and Two-Lane Blacktop, along with Vanishing Point for an existential night of car chaos. Toss Easy Rider on the grill, as well.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

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