Vanishing Point (1971)

Posted: May 23, 2012 in 70's Retrospective

The third entry for Retrospective Night is yet another 1971 movie. The previous 2 had cult heroes – Dirty Harry and Billy Jack – who dealt with the baddies by their own moral code. In this one we have more of an anti-hero in Kowalski played by the briefly famous Barry Newman who was rather hot for a couple of years in the early 70’s. Then again perhaps the true hero of this movie is a 1970 Dodge Challenger? Like another 1971 “road” movie Duel there were many long sweeping shots of one car on a long highway and it can certainly be effective. However this movie has dated badly. It developed a certain cult status at the time with comparisons to other classic movies with memorable car chases in it like Bullit which is ridiculous. Of course the director was not trying to do Bullit 2 so the comparison is pointless. Long before Blazing Saddles Cleavon Little has a major role as the guiding DJ Super Soul but is a fairly stereotypical caricature.This is very much a period piece – loved at the time but largely forgettable now. It certainly had a different feel about it at the time and the imagery was strong – the definition of “Vanishing point: is

1.The point at which receding parallel lines viewed in perspective appear to converge.

2.The point at which something that has been growing smaller or increasingly faint disappears altogether.

The ending first time up of course has impact which is lost on repeated viewing. Flashbacks tell us a bit more about the character and what led to the final scenario unfolding. It is revealing to rewatch some of these 70’s faves and see which ones hold up and which ones fade. It confirms to me what a great movie Dirty Harry remains. Must be time for a comedy methinks – I see more Cleavon Little on the horizon?

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