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I Drive Therefore I Am

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Mark Kermode | 16:09 UK time, Friday, 23 September 2011

Drive - a great thriller about a getaway driver played by Ryan Gosling opens today. This got me thinking about all those classic automotive movies from the 70s and made me wonder what's the best road movie ever?

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  • Comment number 1.

    Joyride/Roadkill (UK title) starring Paul Walker, Steve Zahn and Leelee Sobieski, scripted by Clay Tarver and more interestingly J.J Abrahms. The Steven Spielberg Duel influence is all over it but I found it tremendous fun and everything nuts and bolts horror should be.

  • Comment number 2.

    I love Dirty Mary Crazy Larry with Peter Fonda, Susan George, Adam Rourke & Vic Morrow. Fonda is cooler than he was in Easy Rider & when I saw the ending for the 1st time I exclaimed (out loud to no-one) "THE FALL GUY!!!"

  • Comment number 3.

    I noticed that you are in Cambridge (Film Festival) with Parker's Piece in the background.

    Anyway, there are scenes which can express the utter boredom or loneliness of driving. The opening scene of The Hitcher or the montage in A History of Violence where Viggo Mortensen has to drive to Philadelphia on his own, abandoned by his family.

    Crash (1996), is a fantastic adaptation where the car is a representation of how the world is leading to its own demise. The recreation of the James Dean crash, where Elias Koteas is describing the crash and the cars with fetishistic integrity.

  • Comment number 4.

    I can't think of a movie about a driving that I've genuinely enjoyed. There are movies that feature characters who drive a lot like The Hitcher, or The Transporter, or Dumb and Dumber. But movies about driving? I'm having flashbacks to Days Of Thunder. Horrible. Just horrible.

    Smokey And The Bandit was good though. And it is about driving at it's heart.

  • Comment number 5.

    I think About Schmidt has some fairly melancholic long distance driving elements. No Country For Old Men was almost enough to put me off doing an American road trip again. You worry for anyone brave enough to get into a car in that movie as it always seems to lead to bad things happening.
    And, of course, who could forget the finale of Thelma and Louise.

  • Comment number 6.

    Top of my list would have to be Mad Max 2.


    The first film is a very good movie but Max is noticably 'un-mad' for at least two thirds of the film. By the time we get to the sequel, the only companions that Max has left are his dog and his car and he goes to great distances to protect those things.

    It's interesting that Max agrees to help the settlers at the oil refinery, not out of kindness but in return for fuel so that he can presumably continue his nomadic lifestyle. He'd rather be alone, behind the wheel of his car, than part of any society.

    It's only when his car is destroyed that he decides to assist them with their escape, utilising the one skill that he posseses more than anyone else- driving.

    One of the great things about Mad Max 2 is the fact that it's one of those sequels that you don't even need to have seen the original to fully appreciate. It's a terrific standalone movie.

    But it is also worth considering that the reason that Max is so at home on the road is that, in driving, he is clinging on to the only part of his former life (his job as a highway patrolman) that he has left.

    Mad Max 2 does, incidentally, feature some of the best driving sequences ever caught on film.

  • Comment number 7.

    My favourite driving movie is 'Vanishing point' theres no real story, the main protagonist is nameless, has no back story and character motivation is a blank.It's left to the supporting cast to fleshout the film, yet the film holds together well, it feels like a Terence Malick film in it's dreaminess.

    Another film is Detour(45) in which the central character is driving in order to try and out run fate and digging himself a grave in the process.
    In 'Devil thumbs a ride' Lawrence Tierney is a bank robber in a precursor to all those psycho hitchhiker films.

  • Comment number 8.

    what about the often overlooked early spielberg film duel? theres a lot of great driving in that!

  • Comment number 9.

    Collateral, by Michael Mann, is really good, and features driving extensively (after all, the main character is a taxi driver moving an assassin around from hit to hit) - that said, is it really about driving, and how many movies are? Surely the driving is used as a device for conversation or action?

    In a way, the sequences in Lost in Translation featuring Bill Murray's character staring through the window of a taxi are more about driving (even though he's not behind the wheel himself) - there's a clear sense of tired loneliness as he looks out the window at his unfamiliar surroundings. And surely the isolation of that is more related to the feeling of driving than characters talking or escaping?

  • Comment number 10.

    I can't really recall seeing any true 'road movie'. Though I have to say The Hitcher with its relentless nihilism and barren landscapes comes to mind. Also, Jeepers Creepers(at the beginning anyway) has that same quality to it: two kids trying to outrun a relentless mysterious foe on desolate roads.

    I suppose you could add some of the Mad Max films, too.

  • Comment number 11.

    "I_am_I".... Two Lane Blacktop is a road movie, it's about the road and was shot on the road.

    My 2 favourites are Vanishing Point and Two Lane Blacktop, both are just wonderful existential 70s flicks.

  • Comment number 12.

    Two films that come to mind are 'The Wages of Fear' and Friedkin's remake 'Sorcerer'. Obviously they're about much more than driving, but most of the film concerns the need to drive carefully and the loneliness involved.

    Also, you mentioned Melville's masterpiece 'Le Samourai' but he also made a literal existential road movie - 'L'aîné des Ferchaux' (his first colour film in 1963) in which Jean Paul Belmondo drives a disgraced banker across America - surprisingly relevant in the 21st century.

    Lastly, Lynch's 'Wild at Heart' and to a lesser extent 'Lost Highway'.

  • Comment number 13.

    David Lynch's 'The Straight Story' is the one that comes to mind first. A man on his own traveling across America on a motorised lawnmower to reconcile with his brother after years of bad blood between them. i think that film sums up what you're asking nicely Mark.

    As much as you hate the film Mark (i'm not a fan either) Quentin Tarantino's 'Death Proof' is about a stuntman after all, who on his own hunts down female prey with his car. A deranged and lonely existence.

  • Comment number 14.

    Crash (96). Although it doesn't really make any comments about the loneliness of being one soul in a car and the feeling of detachment from everyone else, but rather two people finding connection in one car, or two cars that have crashed into each other, and finding a physical and psychological connection to the modern machines we've ended up becoming so attached to. Classic Cronenberg.

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm surprised no-one's mentioned Le Mans, the whole film is about the need to drive no matter the cost (I do my best to forget the romantic sub-plot).

    Unfortunately good road movies are few and far between, especially in recent times.

  • Comment number 16.

    For me, it's a tie between The Hitcher(1986) and The Road Warrior. The Hitcher especially uses that feeling of loneliness and melancholy as a way to start the plot, while The Road Warrior just ends with the greatest driving action sequence in cinema. The worst drive film must be Death proof however, since it takes a good 40 minutes to actually get the actors on the road, and then disgustingly shows a car accident from every possible leering exploitative angle.
    Worth mentioning also is the Transporter film series, which is just great fun. Too bad Jason Statham doesn't get in a fight bare-chested fight with a bunch of baddies on the top of his BMW while driving with his left foot and wooing the mini-skirt wearing lady on the passenger seat. That IS Oscar material, if I ever saw any.

  • Comment number 17.

    Nice one Chris Q for mentioning Collateral. I absolutely love that film. Duel, The Hitcher and Mad Max 2 are also great suggestions.

    A film I'm very fond of is Cy Endfield's Hell Drivers. Stanley Baker is brilliant as the new road-haulage driver, competing with the devious, menacing and brutal Red - a delightfully fiendish turn by Patrick McGoohan. The whole narrative revolves around reckless, high speed drving being essential for survival, status, respect and revenge.

  • Comment number 18.

    Sam Peckinpah's CONVOY with Kris Kristofferson, and I really liked the Luc Besson scribed TAXI. Not sure you can beat Vanishing Point for existentialist driving stuff. I loved Two Lane Black Top...

  • Comment number 19.

    Two-Lane Blacktop is the ULTIMATE existential film about driving for driving's sake. Two nameless youngsters live purely for the sake of wandering around the US in their hotrod, mumbling, occasionally going to drag races where they bump into other lost souls. A plot about a race across the country for pink tickets with another man quickly deteriorates into more aimless drifting and then in the final sequence the driver shuts his window and we hear what sounds like prison bars closing as the film runs out. Just another race, which will be followed by another one, and another, etc. etc.

    In one remarkable sequence the nameless character played by Warren Oates begins to tell his backstory, and then wham - he's told to shut up, and we never hear it. It's unimportant to the ethos of the film. Their lives are faceless, nameless, circular, isolated, heading nowhere but looking inwards for direction. If Sartre was a car nut, he would have made this film.

    Needless to say it is an all time favourite of mine. As a car nut myself my username comes from both my love of automobiles and racing as well as having a somewhat bleak and meandering world view.

    I'll be watching Driver this Sunday. Can't wait.

  • Comment number 20.

    And Death Proof... I really liked. I think it had a lot more to say than people give it credit for. It's VERY feminist. There's a reason the movie is split in two. The grainy footage goes away in the second half because it trying to show the progression and changes of perceptions of women since the exploitation days. All the talk has a deeper underlying meaning too. And the stunt work by Zoe Bell in that movie is simply awesome!

  • Comment number 21.

    I love a lot of films involving driving (Duel, Vanishing Point, Blues Brothers, Death Race 2000 etc), but I can't name one that's specifically about driving. I'm disappointed that Ryan Gosling's Driver isn't like Jason Statham's Frank Martin in the Transporter movies and fight people, shirtless, in motor oil. At least Drive is much, much, much better than that arse Faster with Dwayne Johnson (as Driver) and Billy Bob Thornton (as cop), a remake I believer of Ryan O'Neil/Bruce Dern's Driver.

  • Comment number 22.

    I can't believe no one has mentioned that classic Back to the Future.....


    They drive to the future, and back, and back again... and back again etc, etc.

  • Comment number 23.

    Okay, it's not so much about driving a car on a road, but still addresses issues such as the loneliness of long distance travel, confinement to the vehicle, and placing the journey above yourself.

    Sunshine, by Danny Boyle.

  • Comment number 24.

    Some obvious choices are Vanishing Point and Easy Rider, which I both love.

    However, a guilty pleasure of mine for a long time has been Kalifornia (1993), in which David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes set out cross country to California, in the process they attempt to pen a book by taking in various murder sites on route. They take in red necks Brad Pitt and Juliet Lewis to share the journey, what unfolds is a bizarre Oedipal dyanamic between the group resulting in a tale of terror as the truth catches up.

  • Comment number 25.

    I know people may say Le Mans but I have always thought that Grand Prix was a better film.

    With Ron Howard currently making Rush which I am excited about, I always liked Eat My Dust and Grand Theft Auto but Ron Howard could not really be described as mean and moody. Just bought the Roger Corman film The Fast and the Furious, it can not be worse than the remakes or have I just wasted 99p?

  • Comment number 26.

    I agree with another post re The Straight Story, surely one of the best road movie's ever. Also, what about Radio On, black and white 70s movie, set in the UK with some Wim Wenders input plus awesome soundtrack...oh, and Thelma and Louise, classic

  • Comment number 27.

    #11 Ian Shultz,

    Sounds hardcore. I might give it a miss ;)

  • Comment number 28.

    I gotta say Terminator 2:

    From the start every character gets themselves a vehicle and then hits the road to chase or to run.

    In fact the visual motif of the movie is the night highway (moving ahead into an uncertain future) with the brilliant Linda Hamilton (the star of that movie) voice over.

    A lot of the best moments: The bike/truck/Harley chase, John Connor teaching the Terminator to cuss etc all take place on the road.

    It's that wonderfully obsessive thing in Western culture that Cameron hit on about the experience of moving at speed down the road: it can be calm, scary, relaxing, life saving and indeed therapeutic.

    Terminator 2 is the best Sci-Fi/Action/Road Movie ever made and I wish Cameron would do more of this in the future because he's still the best at it!

    "The future's not set. There's no fate but what we make for ourselves!" - BRILLIANT!

  • Comment number 29.

    Taxi Driver, obviously. It's about being alone, angry, cut off and driving. Also Senna, i know it's a documentry but it's about driving and how it defines and sadly claims some peoples lives.

  • Comment number 30.

    Easy - Jim Jarmusch's "Ghost Dog". Some great existential driving scenes.

    Refn's "Drive" is top notch, the most satisfying film I've seen in a very long time

  • Comment number 31.

    As others have mentioned; The Straight Story, Taxi Driver, Two Lane Backdrop, The Hitcher, Collateral, Duel. All great film and great choices.

    However my road movie nomination would have to be Apocalypse Now. Although not exactly set on the road; it does have themes of being cut off from the outside world, being alone and placing the journey (or mission) above all other priorities. It can also be seen as the anti road movie, rarely you see a character going off on a journey that concludes with an assassination, or with a character finding that he or she is still trapped in their own personal hell.

  • Comment number 32.

    i agree with 'OllieSim' and 'Neonman' (and anyone else who mentioned it that i may of missed) Cronenberg's Crash is a great film and my favourite film about Drivers along with Taxi Driver.

  • Comment number 33.

    I love some of the choices here. The Hitcher was a great road horror flick. The Road Warrior probably has the best car chases ever filmed (IMHO). The Straight Story is an inspired choice, but none of those are what Dr. K is asking for, I think.

    I liked John Carpenter's Christine, but that wasn't about driving so much as the American experience of falling in love with your first car and becoming an extension of it (instead of the other way around).

    This may not qualify either, but I have to say The World's Fastest Indian with Anthony Hopkins was a pretty good film about the act of modifying and riding a high speed vehicle for no other purpose than to go faster than anyone else. The 'road' aspect of the story is not nearly as interesting as when Hopkins' Burt Munro, an aloof character with a heart condition, climbs into his modified 1920 Indian Scout and just... goes fast. The film uses some clever camera angles to give the viewer a sense of what it's like to moving at nearly 200 mph, especially when there are balance problems with the bike causing fishtailing, among other things. It has other things going for it, also, besides the high speed sequences and the acting talents of SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS. This doesn't explain why Munro has a fascination with driving fast, just that he has the desire to travel at high speed.

    I only recently viewed the 1981 film 'Road Games' starring Stacey Keach as a truck driver and scream queen Jamie lee Curtis as a semi-love interest. And seemingly half of Burt Reynolds early film career is a collection of 'driving films'... Cannonball Run, Hooper, Smokey and the Bandit... And Smokey and the Bandit may be the most successful (box office) driving film of all time... At least, that I can think of. It was second at the box office in 1977 to only one other film (some space opera thing). Close Encounters of The Third kind eventually passed its box office output, but not until a few years later when it was re-released.

  • Comment number 34.

    Always liked "Duel" & "The Hitcher" but for me "The Road Warrior" aka Mad Max 2 is the greatest driving movie. A great bleak action movie that helped define the whole post apocalyptic genre.

  • Comment number 35.

    John Carpenter's Christine.

  • Comment number 36.

    A quick warning, this is going to be sappy.

    Pixar's "Cars". Although it's the weakest of the bunch, Cars is just one of those films that's a complete pleasure and joy to watch. I don't have very much in common with my dad, but driving on road trips was the main thing that sparked conversations, and a sense of friendship and closeness. "Cars" brings those nastalgic moments back to me every time I watch it.

  • Comment number 37.

    I know it's not about cars, but Walkabout is a classic driving movie, both spiritually and philosophically. The entire principle is moving forward, heading home, and discovering oneself and coming to terms with reality. The desert acts as the open road.

  • Comment number 38.

    Hoping someone on here can help me. I'm trying to think of a movie i remember Mark talking about some time back. It was a British film, it used amateur actors and it revolved around a re-enactment of a crime, i think.

  • Comment number 39.

    Planes, Trains and Automobiles

  • Comment number 40.

    The Italian Job?

  • Comment number 41.

    The best driving film has to be Senna. A man whos life was defined by his phenomenal driving ability, his complete lack of fear and a charisma that he managed to put across from inside a car whilst wearing a helmet.

  • Comment number 42.

    Drive is not very similar to the awful Death Proof but the film does have me wondering whether Winding Refn is the new Quentin Tarrantino, in the sense that, no matter how enjoyable, it's still style over substance and a slightly lazy pastiche that references 70s classics.

  • Comment number 43.

    Driving Miss Daisy? I think Mark has a soft spot for that one.

  • Comment number 44.

    I love films like Vanishing Point and Two Lane Blacktop and their big open spaces and endless lonely highways but I find the claustrophobia of Paul Schrader's Light Sleeper and Taxi Driver just as interesting. I love the metaphor of the car as a protective bubble and a place from which to view the uncontrollable city... but if it's B-movies that you are after then the list is endless and my two overlooked modern gems are the Affleck v's Jackson thriller Changing Lanes and the 80 minute burst of revenge that is Highwaymen.

  • Comment number 45.

    Probably the purest driving movie of all time has to be "Le Mans" starring Steve McQueen.

  • Comment number 46.

    How about "Radio On", best britsh road movie?

  • Comment number 47.


  • Comment number 48.

    the hitcher. just a guy on the road being pursued by another guy who happens to be RUTGER HAUER!!!!!

  • Comment number 49.

    My all time favourite road movie has to be Michael Cimino's Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, featuring excellent performances from both Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges. I remember watching this as a child on late night television and finding it utterly engaging. I love this film.

  • Comment number 50.

    TheAmsterdamTulip. Can we be best friends please??

  • Comment number 51.

    Also have to give a big shout out for Paris Texas as it appears to have snuck under the radar.

  • Comment number 52.

    SlackBladder. Online, yes.

  • Comment number 53.

    As for a road movie/comedy caper, you can't do much better than Quick Change directed by and Starring Bill Murray. A very funny movie with excellent perfomance from Murray.

  • Comment number 54.

    Almost forgot Ceech and Chong Up in Smoke. Turns it up to 11.

  • Comment number 55.

    Sam Pekinpah's grizzly Bring me the head of Alfredo Garcia

    Coen brothers tune filled O brother where art thou.

  • Comment number 56.

    I see Dimitri Sabestoplovichov's existential masterpiece Room 10 hasn't been noted yet. A sprawling modernist masterpiece of epic proportion, Sabestoplovichov's depiction of a small mining village in Mauritius that becomes haunted by a memory of a young lady who may or may not have been buried under the slag heaps that cover the mines surrounding territory. Whilst not containing any "car scenes" there is a rather witty allusion to them in the form of a photograph pinned to door of Pertova's (Madeline Scheznetta) bedroom, depicting a scene from the uproarious Herbie Goes Bananas.

  • Comment number 57.

    I appreciate that I'm probably going way out on a limb here, but how about The Right Stuff?

    No please, hear me out.

    Okay, it doesn't really feature fast cars nor people driving them, as it's principally about US test pilots and the beginnings of the space program, but thematically, there are a lot of parallels to be drawn between Kowalski in "Vanishing Point" and Chuck Yeager. Both men appear driven by an irrational desire to "face the demon", one in experimental aircraft, the other in his high-powered muscle car. The existential, death-baiting "need for speed" felt by risk-taking professionals such as test pilots and racing drivers (and indeed the bomb disposal experts in "The Hurt Locker") is quite a difficult concept to encapsulate in pithy descriptions; cinema is one of the only mediums capable of expressing it succinctly. It also ties in with your musings on the TT film and "Senna".

    p.s. having said that, the book is magnificent.

  • Comment number 58.

    Taxi by Gérard Pirès was an absolute beast when i saw it for the first time. I chanced across it on the TV and had the chance to see it with no expectations i knew nothing about it. Now it's etched in my memory as a sexy, exhilarating feast for the eyes.

    Also, that moped back flip near the beginning is boss!

  • Comment number 59.

    The Right Stuff ??? mmmmmmmmmmmm
    There is only one true beautiful lonely road movie, one man and the road . yes i know hes on a bike,but its pure cinema gold
    `Electric Glide In Blue` of course!

  • Comment number 60.

    i did it again ,typo
    ElecTRA Glide in Blue

  • Comment number 61.

    i'm not sure if it counts as it is two cars on a road not on, but duel is a magnificent film that is in a car.

  • Comment number 62.

    Thelma and Louise! Firstly because it's not a testosterone-fuelled 'celebration' of the masculinity of cars and secondly because watching it made me long for my very own 1966 teal-coloured T-Bird!

  • Comment number 63.

    Driving Miss Daisy explored race relations through the act of driving.

  • Comment number 64.

    I think the best car movies are from the 70s, as they didn't need flashy editing, or CGI cars, it was real for real, when they crashed, they crashed for real, no over the top CGI BAY-esque editing.

    My all time best car movies, were The Driver, Vanishing Point, and Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry which I put up amongst the two mentioned, as it has a fantastic chase with Vic Morrow in a helecopter, which watching now is quite eerie.

    I also like to mention the original Gone in 60 seconds, and Junkman, where they were both none stop carmageddon, Junkman has an insane amount of car crashes in the final reel, that put's all Michael Bay movies to shame.

    Also not forgetting Race with the Devil, which was a great occult/car chase movie, which must have inspired George Miller when he made Mad Max.

    Last but by no means least. The all time classic Stephen Spielberg's Duel, a fantastic thrill ride, which inspired so many, including The Car, which I loved as a young teenager.

  • Comment number 65.

    Road movies are something that are typically American - as a character in Wim Wenders' Kings of the Road says - 'The Yanks have colonised our consciousness' - and perhaps the most American movie of all is The Wizard of Oz, although not about driving, it is probably the first true road movie.
    For me, Wenders' film is the definitive road movie as it delineates the underlying themes of the genre (the vast cinematic possibilities, the point of the journey - in this case, to play movies - and indeed the loneliness of of an interior journey of a character in the face of such an expansive horizon) in a way that redresses them while typifying them.
    Although I have probably watched Easy Rider more than any other road movie, most recently in Amsterdam in the middle of A Jack Nicholson season: the irony did not go to waste!

  • Comment number 66.

    Amsterdam Tulip - I also saw Thunderbolt and Lightfoot on late night tv as a child and cried my eyes out. Love that movie!

    If we're not being too specific about cars then two films which really represent the ethos of long distance trucking for me are Dark Star and Alien.

  • Comment number 67.

    A film that perfectly encapsulates the idea of the isolation is 'Taste of cherry'. A man planning to commit suicide drives around Tehran looking for someone to bury him if he succeeds or revive him if he does'nt, he and his various passengers are framed in isolation so even thought they are sharing a car they're still seperated.Many of the seventies driving films tend to be bleak and nialistic, where as this actually quite life affirming.

  • Comment number 68.

    Like many of my learned friends I look back with fondness to 70s cinema generally, and to those films with cars in them in particular. So, like others I liked The Vanishing, Walter Hill's neglected The Driver (hey, Hill's neglected generally) and Two-lane Blacktop. They're from a different age when we didn't need to worry about MPG and we liked our heroes quiet and existential. I'm from Birmingham so the empty road isn't something I was used to!

    Of the period I'd also add Hal Ashby's The Last Detail (with Jack Nicholson and a young Randy Quaid), though not a road movie in the sense of a car journey the three central characters do journey across the USA.

    The best road movies since the 70s? Probably, Trains, Planes and Automobiles (a great road, rail and air movie); The Straight Story; Thelma and Louise and Transamerica.

    Though not obviously a British genre there have been a few with Peter Capaldi's Soft Top: Hard Shoulder and Chris Petit's Radio On the stand-outs.

  • Comment number 69.

    Quite simply, Genevieve

  • Comment number 70.

    Drive By Night

  • Comment number 71.

    First off... I LOVED Drive! Could easily be my film of the year.

    Ok, road movies... beyond such obvious classics as Vanishing Point, Driver, Two Lane Black Top etc... I would suggest that one of the truly great car relationship movies must surely be George Lucas' American Graffiti. The classic rite-of-passage movie where cars (or in some cases lack of) enable all the main characters to develop both on and off the 'circuit'. The male/car relationship shown through the events of one long end of summer night... in Modesto, California, presumably?

    1. Mad Max 2 (AKA The Road Warrior)
    2. Duel
    3. Race With The Devil
    4. Road Games

  • Comment number 72.

    Well, concerning Drive, I was horribly disappointed. I liked the deliberate pace, I liked the rivers of blood, I REALLY liked Carey Mulligan and Christina Hendricks, but otherwise I thought it was rather pitiful. Derivative, heartless and pretentious, with absolutely nothing to be pretentious about. Of course I thought of limitlessly superior movies such as Driver and Taxi Driver while I watched it, but the closest comparison is of something like Pale Rider - the seemingly superhuman and nameless avenging angel arrives in town to protect the innocent and the vulnerable. It's all rather old hat.

    Hey, does Pale Rider count as a 'driving' film? ...Probably not.

    I'm a big Mad Max 2 fan - that is a piece of honest exploitation and trash, with none of the delusions of grandeur that infest Drive. Mad Max 2 is set in a bleak, dystopian future-scape where seemingly the ONLY thing left for people to do (when they aren't killing each other) is to drive, their gas-guzzlers and enormous fuel tankers pumping out thick black fumes that further destroy the fragile planet. Good clean fun.

    Another one - maybe Dr Kermode won't be too fond of this - is Godard's Week End, a satire of the Road Movie, in which people all over France appear to be literally driving themselves to death. Week End is pretentious all right, and sometimes rather tiresome, but it's also dead funny, and the central conceit (cars and dangerous driving as symbolic of rampant consumerism) is interesting. Week End is a black comedy all right, but at the same time, there are few other movies that take the act of driving so seriously.

  • Comment number 73.

    @20 Samuel. Speaking as a woman myself, Death Proof suggests to me the concept that QT has often heard of women being described but has never actually met one. The female dialogue in Death Proof only confirms what the good Dr. has said about some QT movies - every character speaks like QT. I find Death Proof to be one of the least realistic depictions of female characters in the history of motion pictures. Death Proof is QT's onanistic fantasy of how he wishes women would talk. Sex and the City is a documentary compared to Death Proof.

    And I don't have a prejudice against QT in general. I think Reservoir Dogs and Inglorius were brilliant. But he really messed up with Death Proof. I consider it to be his worst film ever.

  • Comment number 74.

    Talking about the other Ryan (O'Neil that is), His depiction of Moses Pray in Bogdanovich's Paper Moon is, for me, one of his best performances. Paper Moon is without-doubt an underrated masterpiece and one of THE great depression era road movies.

    Con artist Pray takes the child Addie Loggins (played by Ryan's real-life daughter, Tatum) under his wing and they soon become team travelling from town to town scamming people for money, and meeting some interesting characters on the way, including the wonderful Madeline Khan as Trixie Delight and Randy Quaid as the hillbilly Leroy.

  • Comment number 75.

    The Straight Story - David Lynch - An altogether more leisurely Lawn Mower based driving film -

  • Comment number 76.

    + Abbas kiarostami's - Taste of Cherry + 10 - In fairness a lot of his films have a lot of driving scenes + Night on Earth - Jim Jarmusch -

  • Comment number 77.

    how about 'the straight story'?

  • Comment number 78.

    One of the greatest driving movies for me? National Lampoon's Vacation.

  • Comment number 79.

    While not essentially a movie about "The Road" experience, Coup de Ville is one of my favourite "road" movies. Three brothers meet up for the first time in five years. They have met to drive home a car their father bought for their mother's 50th birthday. During the long ride home they get to know each other once again.

    The car and the road bring them back together.

  • Comment number 80.

    I've not seen Drive yet but from the trailer and reviews I've read it seems to bear more than a passing resemblance to Walter Hill's '78 movie The Driver; a movie that also had a pretty decent performance by Ryan O'Neil as the ice-for-blood getaway driver. It also had some of the best car chase sequences of any movie since Bullet.

    Walter Hill is an iconic writer/director who made some classic lean, tough, stripped down action movies (Warriors, the street-fighting film Hard Times, Southern Comfort, 48 hrs etc).
    Hill was also one of the writers of the script for Alien and also some of its sequels and wrote the screenplay for The Getaway that Peckinpah directed.

    If you've not seen The Driver then it's worth catching (as are other Walter Hill movies).
    YouTube has some clips.

    As for classic road trip movies. My personal fave of the car-chase genre is the existentialist Vanishing Point. Many others have been mentioned above.

    Respect to Stuart Hanson for mentioning The Last Detail. A really good film with a performance from a young Jack Nicholson when he was still 'hungry' and wanting to showcase how good he could be.

  • Comment number 81.

    I always thought of "Almost Famous" as a road movie. Although it's about a teenager trying to make a name in journalism by following a band on tour the whole film centres around their travels and the toll that life in the road takes on them all (even when they are in the air).

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    Taxi Driver is perhaps an obvious choice, although a film that good should always be in a 'best of...' in my opinion. The Wages of Fear would also be a very high player for me. But Antonioni's The Passenger with Jack Nicholson is a wonderful example of the trauma caused by 'too much time to think'. A brilliant performance by Nicholson and a truly memorable movie.

  • Comment number 84.

    @79 Carole, Coupe de Ville is one of my favourite movies of all time. It is criminal that this is not available on DVD complete with commentaries from everyone involved.

  • Comment number 85.

    Le Mans. Steve McQueen. Little dialogue, lots of driving.

  • Comment number 86.

    @ 74 waerdknott

    Agree totally, Papermoon is a masterpiece, Tatum is just wonderful. I cant seem to find it on DVD anywhere, its a big black hole in my collection,along with the Devils of course, nudge ,nudge

  • Comment number 87.

    Surely Spielberg's Duel has to be a contender. A film where not much more happens than an ordinary, unremarkable man drives a car and fights for his life as the faceless driver of a juggernaut aims to fatally end his journey. It takes immense skill to create such tension from a remarkably simple premise.

  • Comment number 88.


    Agreed, like all of QT movies (post Jackie Brown) they are all about one thing: Quentin Tarantino.

    He's become the most self-involved, self-loving, self-obsessed and narcissistic person in the film industry.

    Dr. K was right when he said everyone in his films sound like him - due to the fact that he only has one voice.

    It's very true and he's fallen way behind PT Anderson and co who have matured and moved on in their work.

  • Comment number 89.

    Seeing Drive tonight. Can't wait!

    For mine the top ones have to be Vanishing Point and Smokey and the Bandit but the best 'road' movie about driving probably American Graffiti. A film that George Lucas himself has said, was a film about a part of american life all but lost now. An 'innocent' time before the rock and roll of the beatles came over seas, where driving was a way of life for teens looking to court a girl home on a saturday night. One of the first films also to tell multiple stories that ran parallel and tied up towards the end...

  • Comment number 90.

    The Big Picture has a lovely driving sequence in it, a montage covering all the way from Paris to Eastern Europe.

    But for capturing that loneliness of eating up mile after mile, of nothing happening, I can only think of one that hasn't been mentioned: The Brown Bunny.

  • Comment number 91.

    Easy Rider and American Graffiti

  • Comment number 92.

    Besides the classic Vanishing Point, I think that in a way Collateral, with Tom Cruise and Jaime Fox, was, if not a movie about driving, a film that inspired the act of driving. I mean that soundtrack alone makes me want to pick up the car keys and just drive around Lisbon @ night. If only the damn gasoline price stopped climbing! And it is in itself a great movie, particularly because Cruise is at its best as a vilain in my book (and I really like him as an actor). Know, I believe that the french Taxi movies are fun to watch, the first 2 anyway, even though some of the driving is pure stunt work and camera shot. But hey, its a comedy! Can't wait to see this one! By the way,dr K, have you seen red state yet?

  • Comment number 93.

    CRASH by David Cronenberg. And, of course, TAXI DRIVER by Martin Scorsese.

  • Comment number 94.

    Driving Miss Daisy ??? Or of course the greatest driving movie EVER ... Happy Gilmore

  • Comment number 95.

    I think that while Taxi Driver and The Driver are the obvious ones. I think that Drive owes the most debt to Michael Mann's Collateral. Which is also a really good driving film. It has the same sense of location and sparse photography, while Mann's film is arguably more tightly plotted there are similarities. From a laconic and oddly cool sociopath to random and very strong outbursts of violence.

  • Comment number 96.

    Might I add a random as well. Who remembers Stallone as the arm wrestling trucker who fights for his sons love in OVER THE TOP!!!

  • Comment number 97.

    Well for me it has to be Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, what can be better than seeing Mr Depp (pre Jack Sparrow) drive through bat country in a convertible Cadillac with a crazy lawyer and a never ending supply of narcotics.

    Another great contender which doesn't particularly feature any cars other than the burnt out rusted remains is The Road.
    Despite its lack of automobiles, it portrays all the isolation and determination of longing to reach that painfully distant goal.

  • Comment number 98.

    Mad Max 2 comes to mind, Duel and Hush.

  • Comment number 99.

    The Hitcher is possibly the greatest driving film of all time... The Rutger Hauer one that is... Worrying you have to make that distinction.

    I also loved the second half of Death Proof... The first half although watchable the first time it doesn't warrant a repeat viewing, just jump right to the changeover.

  • Comment number 100.

    I think Drive will be my film of the year. I know you wioll disagree but I love road movies. My favourites are planes trains and automobiles. I know its onthird of a road movie but its about the misery of getting home and of travelling. Second is radion one I think its a reeally underrated road trip movie


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