James Taylor and Former Beach Boy Dennis Wilson’s Movie ‘Two-Lane Blacktop’ Reissued
A cult classic almost since its release more than 40 years ago, director Monte Hellman’s ‘Two-Lane Blacktop’ — featuring James Taylor and former Beach Boy Dennis Wilson in their only acting roles — is getting the deluxe reissue treatment today (Jan. 8).
One of 25 movies added to the National Film Registry in 2012, ‘Blacktop’ was widely hailed as a critical success during its initial release in 1971. Although audiences largely failed to respond at the time, its fans have steadily multiplied over the years, as evidenced by Criterion’s new ‘director-approved special edition’ release, which adds interviews, commentary tracks, and assorted other bonus materials to a newly restored and remastered print of the film.
The largely dialogue-free storyline follows a pair of street racers (played by Taylor and Wilson) who live a nomadic existence, driving from town to town in their souped-up ’55 Chevy 150 and making money by hustling local drivers in pick-up races. After antagonizing a driver (Warren Oates) in New Mexico, they end up embroiled in a would-be cross-country race to Washington, D.C., fighting for the affections of a hitchhiker (Laurie Bird) along the way.
Superficially similar to 1973’s ‘Electra Glide in Blue,’ which featured several members of Chicago in small roles, ‘Two-Lane Blacktop’ offers driving enthusiasts a chance to experience cross-country travel during the pre-interstate highway era, while its improvisational approach and untrained leads lend the film a suitably rough-hewn feel. And, of course, for Taylor and/or Wilson fans, it offers a unique chance to see a pair of rock stars entering unfamiliar territory. Check out the complete details of Criterion’s reissue at their website, and watch the original trailer embedded below.
Watch the ‘Two-Lane Blacktop’ Trailer