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From The Blog
May 27, 2016
Page to Screen: Comics I'd Love to See on My TV—Lackadaisy Cats
Angie Barry
May 26, 2016
Mood, Music, & Mysteries
Kristen Houghton
May 25, 2016
Nate Heller & Mike Hammer
Max Allan Collins
May 25, 2016
An Interview with Louise Penny
Crime HQ
May 25, 2016
Under Burning Skies: Best of 21st-Century Western Movies
David Cranmer
Showing posts by: Brian Greene click to see Brian Greene's profile
May 5 2016 4:30pm

Pinky Violence

Two disclaimers to open this post on the Pinky Violence film genre:

  1. I haven’t seen every movie that could be classified within the category. Depending on which list you’re looking at, I’ve watched between a half and two-thirds of the titles. I’ve also read several articles and one book on the subject, and have viewed trailers for most of the films I haven’t seen. So, while I’m not ready to call myself a Pinky Violence authority, I feel comfortable writing this rundown.
  2. In my Five Essential Pinky Violence films list below, I excluded relevant titles that star Meiko Kaji, since I have already written an appreciation of her acting that includes write-ups on some of the applicable movies in which she played. But, for the record, if I were considering those films, I would feel compelled to make the list a top 10, and among those singled out would certainly be Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss (1970), Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter (1970), and Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (1972). 

See also: Meiko Kaji: An Appreciation of a Female Badass

So what is a Pinky Violence film? I’m not sure who first dubbed the collection of movies as such, but I can tell you what unites the titles: softcore sexuality, hard-edged violence, tough girls, and Japan.

Think of Russ Meyer’s cinematic vision being mashed up with Quentin Tarantino’s and then channeled through the mindsets of Japanese filmmakers creating sexy and savage bad-girl celluloid stories and you’ll have an idea of what’s at hand here. Pinky Violence films have certainly been an influence on Tarantino’s work. I don’t know if Meyer ever watched these movies, but if he did, my guess is that he would have appreciated them.

[It's pink. It's violent. And it's definitely badass...]

Apr 1 2016 4:00pm

Fresh Meat: Too Close to the Edge by Pascal Garnier, translated by Emily Boyce

Too Close to the Edge by Pascal Garnier is a tale of retirement and calm domesticity, with a hint of menace about to explode (Available in ebook format today, and in paperback on June 14, 2016).

I’ve written about Pascal Garnier here before, so I am going to skip right past any kind of overview of the Frenchman’s writings. If you care to read my general thoughts on his work and a breakdown of a handful of his novels, see this previous post:

See also: Bleak Existentialism Meets Grisly Crime: France’s Pascal Garnier

Instead, I’ll get right to the point in commenting on this latest in Gallic Books’ series of new English translations of Garnier’s novels. Published in its original French in 2010—the same year Garnier died at age 60—Too Close to the Edge is in keeping with the author’s m.o. of being set in a provincial area of France. Also like much of Garnier’s work, the story involves people who are having life-changing/personality-disintegrating experiences in the remote locale. 

[Read more of Brian Greene's review of Too Close to the Edge here...]

Mar 11 2016 5:00pm

Meiko Kaji: An Appreciation of a Female Badass

I have to preface the following appreciation of Meiko Kaji’s acting career with two disclaimers:

  1. This is in no way meant to be a comprehensive overview of the Japanese actress’s work in the movies.
  2. I am not going to use this space to write about her singing, although that body of work is definitely worthy of consideration (Tarantino fans reading this are likely familiar with her songs that appear on the Kill Bill soundtracks).

All I’m after here is to say a few things about Kaji’s acting in general, and then highlight a dozen of what I see as some of her most significant movie roles, including her performances in a few series of films that did much to establish her cinematic identity.

Meiko Kaji is a badass. She’s a strikingly beautiful woman, but she’s nobody’s pretty plaything. Call her Japan’s answer to Pam Grier. In the roles discussed below, sometimes she’s a member (always the leader) of a gang, sometimes she’s a lone-wolf vigilante, and other times she’s an assassin; but she’s always a hard-edged, fearless person who doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

To a great extent, the force of her personality, as seen in these characters, is conveyed simply by her stare. In her acting, Kaji has a way of fixing a threatening, icy gaze on the characters who get on her bad side—this intense look much more of a clear and menacing warning than any words could convey.

So, onto those roles:

[Check out the badassness that is Meiko Kaji...]

Feb 11 2016 11:15am

False Starts: A Memoir of San Quentin and Other Prisons by Malcolm Braly

Previously, I wrote an appreciation of Malcolm Braly’s 1961 prison novel Felony Tank as part of my Lost Classics of Noir series for Criminal Element. I singled out the book for being a noteworthy and under-appreciated work of edgy crime fiction, as well as a standout tale about life behind bars. There’s a reason—besides his writing talent—that Braly (1925-1980) wrote so well about his prison life, via Felony Tank and his more celebrated correctional facility novel, On the Yard (1967): he spent the majority of his adult life in penal institutions.

Thanks to Stark House Press’s new reissue of Braly’s 1976 jailhouse memoirs, False Starts: A Memoir of San Quentin and Other Prisons, those of us with an interest in the author can now read his non-fiction account of the penitentiary existence.

False Starts is really more than a prison memoir, despite its subtitle. It’s more like a full autobiography up to that point in the writer’s life. In the first chapter, Braly describes his childhood and early teen years in the parts of California where he was raised, letting us see how, and perhaps why, he drifted into the life of crime that found him detained behind bars for so many of his adult years.

[See what lead him down this path...]

Jan 25 2016 3:00pm

Long Haul by A.I. Bezzerides

“I like to write about reality.”

A.I. Bezzerides (1908-2007) says that, among other things, in the 2005 documentary that was made about his life and work: The Long Haul of A.I. Bezzerides.  In the case of the first of Bezzerides’s three published novels, Long Haul (1938), the reality he wrote about was the life of truckers. This work of proletariat noir has just recently been reissued by 280 Steps, with an introduction by Criminal Element contributor Jake Hinkson.

In penning this first full-length work of fiction, Bezzerides wrote about that which he knew. Born to a Greek-Armenian family who moved from Turkey to California when he was a toddler, Bezzerides worked as a hauler of goods in his early adult years. Drawing on that experience, and with the aid of his talented writing hand, he clearly shows readers the grueling challenges faced by truckers in his day: how little sleep many of them got, and how dangerous it was to drive while exhausted; how they had  to battle it out with sleazy freight agents who hired them to haul beer, produce, and others goods from one site to the next, then tried to shortchange them when it came time to pay them for the work; and how these underpayments were most untimely, when there was always the next installment due on their truck payments, vehicle repairs to contend with, and the usual bills. By making us see the troubles these laborers faced, Bezzerides makes us care about them and the particular truckers on which Long Haul focuses. More on those fellas coming up.

[Learn more about “those fellas” here...]

Jan 15 2016 1:00pm

Page-to-Screen: Wim Wenders’s The American Friend and Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley Novels

When writing about a film adaptation of a work of fiction, it can get a little tricky when the movie in question is actually based on two different novels. But in the case of the 1977 neo-noir title, The American Friend by Wim Wenders, it’s really not all that complicated. The movie’s characters and plot are (somewhat loosely) pulled from two books (Ripley’s Game (1974) and Ripley Under Ground (1970)) that were not only written by the same author (Patricia Highsmith), but involved the same central character (Tom Ripley).

I have to confess to not having read all five of Highsmith’s Ripley novels, but I just recently read the two involved here. And, for those unfamiliar with the literary character, I can say the following things about him based on how he is portrayed in this pair of novels:

Tom Ripley is a complicated guy.

[Ripley's read it or not...]

Nov 30 2015 5:15pm

Stories I Tell Myself: Growing Up with Hunter S. Thompson by Juan F. Thompson

For anyone who has an impression of the kind of lifestyle Hunter S. Thompson led, the notion of him being somebody’s father can be disconcerting. The drugs, the guns…I don’t recall any Gonzo parenting sections in the guides I’ve read about best practices in raising children. Juan F. Thompson, who was born in 1964 and is the only child of HST, both confirms the suspicions most of us would have about his famous dad’s parenting ways, and shows us sides of HST that many will find surprising.

[Buy the ticket, take the ride...]

Oct 31 2015 12:00pm

Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories by Charles Beaumont

There are so many notable aspects of Charles Beaumont’s (1929-67) life and work, it’s hard to know where to being in naming them. He was a gifted writer of short stories and novels, one who showed easy mastery of various genres including horror, sci-fi, dark comedy, and socially conscious literary fiction. He was the first writer to have a short story published in Playboy. He often worked with two of the more influential pioneers of filmed media – B-movie king Roger Corman and TV’s leading light Rod Serling. He is probably best known for his work on Serling’s show The Twilight Zone. He penned 22 episodes of that groundbreaking program, including some of the more memorable installments. And then there’s the matter of Beaumont’s bizarre and saddening life story. He died at age 38 from a degenerative brain disease that couldn’t be diagnosed at the time and that had him looking, according to his son, like he was 95 when he passed away.

[Let's learn about the man and his writing...]

Oct 5 2015 2:00pm

Childhood’s Bittersweet Wonderment: The Spirit of the Beehive

Some of the most lasting works of art are those than can be appreciated on a variety of levels. Such is the case with Victor Erice’s 1973 film The Spirit of the Beehive. A masterpiece of Spanish cinema, the movie is set in 1940, a year after the Spanish Civil War ended with the authoritarian, right wing regime of Francisco Franco defeating the left-leaning Republicans and taking control of the country. The state of Spain in the aftermath of this outcome is a constant influence throughout Erice’s meditative film. And yet someone who doesn’t know a thing about that war or Franco’s government can enjoy the movie.

Co-written by director Erice, the story is also about the emotional estrangement within a family and, more centrally, the bittersweet wonders of childhood discoveries of life and its mysteries. The family (all the characters go by the first name of the actors who play them) is: Fernando, the eccentric father, who keeps odd hours, spends a lot time in beekeeping activities and then holing up in his study and writing reflective, poetic pieces about the bees; Teresa, Fernando’s much younger wife, a beautiful woman who plays moody tunes on the piano and writes romantic letters to a lost love who is elsewhere now, perhaps displaced by the war; Isabel, the oldest child, who is a precocious girl who has an easy laugh yet who gets off on torturing the family cat and playing mean tricks on her younger sister; and that sister, Ana, is the most important character in the tale – she is a wide-eyed, innocent child who gets taken on various coming-of-age experiences over the course of the story, which is in great part seen through her eyes and heart.

[On to the plot...]

Sep 29 2015 10:30am

A Huge Case of Teensploitation: 1965’s Village of the Giants

There could probably be some arguments made about just exactly when teenagers became a real force to be considered in American society, and anybody making the case for the mid-1960s being that time has a good chance of winning the debate. I’ll leave that matter for now and instead focus on what one savvy filmmaker did with the emergence of the mid-60s teen phenomenon. B-movie cult hero Bert I. Gordon did with that situation what a good exploitation film director should do: he exploited it. His 1965 teenage camp romp Village of the Giants is a low-budget gem that features great music, giggle-inducing goofy special effects, some big names for a small budget film, and an inventively fun way to see the emergence of the day’s adolescents.

Co-written by Gordon (who also produced, as well as directed) and based loosely on H.G Wells’s 1904 novel The Food of the Gods, this is a multi-genre romp that features elements of sci-fi,  zany comedy,  and ‘60s teen beach movie. But it’s all camp, all the time (well, maybe apart from the music scenes, which are just plain rockin’ – more on that in a few). The, um, story goes as such: Beau Bridges plays the leader of a group of beautiful, privileged-yet-rebellion-minded teens from L.A., who have their joyride shut down by a landslide when they are cruising near the humble (and fictional) town of Hainesville. Since they can’t make their car move them anywhere else for the time being, they decide to wander (well, I think they actually get there via the Watusi) into the small burg to see what kind of trouble they can stir up.

[And boy, do they find trouble...]

Aug 26 2015 5:00pm

From Page to Screen with Night and the City

In thinking about Jules Dassin’s 1950 work of film noir Night and the City in relation to the same-named 1938 novel by Gerald Kersh, one striking thing to consider is the fact that Dassin said he never read the book. He apparently fully relied on the screenplay of Jo Eisinger, and his own cinematic vision, to guide him as he took the story and adapted it to the big screen. Was Dassin just too busy to pore over Kersh’s novel, did he not want to get distracted from the tale as it read in the screenplay, or was there some other reason why he chose to not read the book? I don’t know, but the differences between book and film are interesting.

The first thing to establish – and not that many reading this likely need to be told as much – is that both Kersh’s novel and Dassin’s film are superb. Both are influential works of noir that take an unflinching look at a panorama of seedy characters in hardboiled situations. Any lover of edgy crime stories, and/or powerful works of social realism, needs to experience both versions of the tale. Ok, so that’s settled. Now let’s get on with a close look at how the two compare.

Both film and novel are set in London. And both concern a motley crew of hardened characters who are struggling in a joylessly desperate moneyed environment. Primarily occurring in nightclubs and professional wrestling environments, the tale depicts a host of hard-up men and women who are out to make a pound any way they can, within a seemingly hopeless (sewer) rat race. Nearly every person in the story seems to be in a constant state of looking at other people and wondering how many quid they might have on them, and what they might be able to do to get some of that dough. Things like morals and decency to your fellow man and woman get tossed in the gutter like yesterday’s betting sheet, and all in the name of the mighty pound.

[Now for the differences...]

Aug 19 2015 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: Savage Lane by Jason Starr

Savage Lane by Jason Star is a thrilling noir that offers up a searing satire of a declining marriage, suburban life, and obsessive love (available October 13, 2015).

“Every town has its secrets.” That’s the tagline that appears across the top of the cover to Jason Starr’s new crime novel Savage Lane. But some words straight out of the book could have served that function just as well: “you never knew what was going on in other people’s lives.” Savage Lane is a work of suburban noir that looks at the dark side of the goings-on in seemingly “normal” peoples’ existences.

Because this is a new book and one that’s not being released until October, I want to be especially careful not to commit spoilers in writing about it. So I will just detail the basic setup and then avoid giving away more plot. There are several minor characters in Savage Lane, which has four major players. Two of those four are a married couple named Mark and Deb Berman. Both 44, the two have been wedded for 17 years. They have two kids, aged 16 and 12, and they live in the New York suburb of Westchester, on Savage Lane. Mark is in middle management for Citibank and Deb is a stay-at-home mom. Their marriage is in trouble. Deb has a drinking problem. Another of the primary characters is Mark’s and Deb’s neighbor, Karen Daily. Karen is a 42-year old divorcee and mother of two kids who are close in age to the Berman children. She works as a speech pathologist at an elementary school. Karen dates a lot, using online services to find potentially appropriate men. She’s not necessarily looking for her next husband but is open to the idea if she meets the right guy. Finally, there’s Owen Harrison. Owen is 18 and not doing much with his life since graduating from high school. He has a crap job at the country club to which the Bermans and Karen Daily belong. At home he is routinely victimized by his physically abusive stepfather; and his mother, who is also bullied by the slovenly man, doesn’t do anything to protect herself or Owen from the egregious mistreatment her vicious husband visits upon them.

[Now that we've met them, let's see how they interact...]

Jul 15 2015 11:00am

Fast Paced and Expensive Tastes: The Money Trap (1965)

I’ve written about one of Lionel White’s novels here before (The Big Caper), and now I’ve got some thoughts about a film based on one of his books.

White is seen by many noir aficionados as a master of the heist story. Stanley Kubrick made the author’s 1955 novel Clean Break into the classic film noir The Killing (1956). Quentin Tarantino credited him as being an inspiration on his 1992 debut film Reservoir Dogs. But caper tales aren’t the only kind of stories White wrote, and The Killing isn’t the only example of a time a film director saw fit to adapt one of his novels for the big screen. Jean-Luc Godard’s avant-garde title Pierrot le fou (1965) is loosely based on White’s 1962 novel Obsession. And there’s an odd, good 1968 movie called The Night of the Following Day that stars Marlon Brando and Rita Moreno, that’s from White’s 1953 book The Snatchers. In addition, there’s another heist film, 1957’s The Big Caper (1957), which shares the title of the White story (1955).

Another time a Lionel White novel got made into a film happened when his 1963 book The Money Trap served as the basis of the same-named film from 1965. And this movie is the one I want to bend your ears about now. Because while The Money Trap, which was directed by Burt Kennedy, may not be not on the same quality tier as The Killing, or as groundbreaking as Pierrot le fou, it’s a hell of a good crime film, and it appears to be all but forgotten, if it was ever much known in the first place.

[Let's remedy that...]

Jun 10 2015 5:00pm

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

I’ve got Shirley Jackson on the brain. I just recently finished reading Let Me Tell You, a forthcoming collection of short stories and essays by her, most of them previously unpublished. If you like Jackson’s writing and/or are intrigued by her personality, you’ll want to get a hold of that anthology when it’s released this late July. I loved the compilation of Jackson’s work, and when I finished it, I was left wanting more of her unique voice. So I turned to my personal favorite of all her literary efforts: her final completed novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which was published in 1962, three years before her death at age 49.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is, like Jackson’s signature short story “The Lottery” and other works of fiction by her, a tale that forces its readers to accept the conditions of a kind of alternate universe. It’s not a work of sci-fi or fantasy, but like a good Twilight Zone episode, it involves extraordinary human experience. To a great extent, the oddness of the spellbinding tale exists inside the mind of its narrator. I’ll let that singular personage introduce herself, via the opening paragraph of the book:

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

[Doesn't that just grab your attention?]

May 13 2015 2:00pm

Fresh Meat: Boxes by Pascal Garnier

Boxes by Pascal Garnier is a work of noir fiction about a French man who goes through with moving to the countryside despite his wife's sudden overseas disappearance (available May 18, 2015).

The house was sulking. Not one window would look him in the face.

Those dazzling lines from Pascal Garnier’s novel Boxes are enough to make me want to read more and more of his books. But those bits of dizzying surrealism are only part of what makes the late Frenchman’s novels such gems. Boxes, which was released in its original French in 2012, two years after Garnier’s death at age 60, is being brought out in a new English translation, courtesy of Melanie Florence. It’s the latest in Gallic Books’ series of English language versions of Garnier’s noir fiction works. And it’s superb.

Like much of Garnier’s body of noir, Boxes is set in a provincial area of France. Also in keeping with the author’s general approach, it studies a person who is living in such terrain and whose life – and mind, and spirit – is coming apart. Brice Casadamont is a middle-aged man who illustrates children’s books as his profession. (Garnier authored many kids’ books, in addition to his noir novels.) Brice and his wife Emma, an oft-traveling journalist some 20 years his junior, make the decision to vacate their apartment in the city of Lyon and relocate to the countryside. But sometime before moving day, Emma goes missing. She was in Egypt on assignment when she disappeared. Brice goes ahead with the move, anyway, and starts to make a life for himself in the village as he awaits word on Emma.

[Sounds reasonable enough...]

Apr 18 2015 12:00pm

From Page to Screen with Ed McBain’s King’s Ransom and Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low

I’ve been a fan of Akira Kurosawa’s 1963 suspense film High and Low since I saw it years ago. I just watched it again after my first read of the 87th Precinct novel it’s based on: Ed McBain’s 1959 procedural King’s Ransom - the 10th installment of the highly-celebrated series penned by Evan Hunter under the McBain pseudonym. The Wikipedia page for High and Low states that is it “loosely based” on the McBain book; but while there are certainly differences between the film and the book, I’d say that statement is a stretch, as the two versions of the story are very similar in some essential ways. In any case, both are worthy examples of works done in their respective media, and it was interesting for me to look closely at what happened when a masterfully-written crime novel got channeled through the vision of a brilliant film director.

Before I delve into the storyline of King’s Ransom and High and Low, I have to confess that I’m going to commit a spoiler where the movie is concerned. There’s just no way for me to comment on the similarities and differences between novel and film without doing that. But what I’m spoiling is something that happens only about halfway into the film.

[Don't let that stop you!]

Mar 31 2015 9:00am

The Obscure, Peculiar, and Clairvoyant Black Rainbow

I first watched the 1989 film Black Rainbow a few years ago, and I took an interest in the movie for three reasons: 1. It was directed by Mike Hodges. Hodges is the auteur behind what are, to me, two superbly-made films: 1971’s Get Carter and 1998’s Croupier. I’m up for seeing anything the guy directed. 2. It stars Rosanna Arquette. I have a soft spot for her, and not just because I think she’s pretty. I like her acting, particularly in John Sayles’ 1983 title Baby, It’s You and Martin Scorsese’s After Hours (1985). If she’s in a movie, I’m curious about it. 3. The film’s obscurity. You almost never hear or read anything about Black Rainbow, even in quarters where you might expect it to come under discussion. I’ve read lengthy overviews of Hodges’s career, that don’t even mention the film. It only got a limited theatrical run at the time of its release and doesn’t appear to have scored any notable rave reviews or awards nominations, but still... it’s a film directed by a living legend and that has a big-name star (two, actually, as Jason Robards plays another lead role). So I wanted to know why is it so forgotten despite all of that, and despite its having been released on DVD in 2004 and on VHS before that.

[I'm always down to try and solve a good mystery...]

Mar 23 2015 4:15pm

Lost Classics of Noir: The Big Heat by William P. McGivern

I first saw Fritz Lang’s 1953 film noir The Big Heat decades ago, and I just viewed it again this week. This time I watched it immediately after reading William P. McGivern’s novel of the same title. This is the latest in my series of posts where I rave about an underappreciated noir novel while commenting on a better-known film that was made from it. Lang’s big screen feature is, of course, a gem, and one that any fan of film noir should get to know if they don’t already. McGivern’s work of fiction, which originally appeared in the pages of The Saturday Evening Post, then was published as a novel in the same year as the movie’s release, deserves lofty status among those who appreciate hard-edged crime tales as they appear on the printed page.

There’s little difference in the plotline between book and movie, but for present purposes I’ll focus on the story as it is told in the novel. The primary character is Dave Bannion: a sergeant of detectives in a homicide bureau in Philadelphia. Bannion is a big man; much is made of his hulky build in McGivern’s book, whereas he comes across as being of more normal male stature via Glenn Ford’s portrayal of him in the movie. He has a temper that he needs to keep a watch over, to make sure he doesn’t use his great bulk to do bodily harm to others when it’s not warranted. Bannion is a family man, happily married to his good-natured wife and a loving father to their young daughter. He’s also an honest law enforcement agent. In the beginning of the novel (this is not in the movie), some of the detectives on his team are holding a black man on suspicion of a crime, and are ready to work him over physically to sweat a confession out of him; but Bannion feels their grounds for suspecting the man are flimsy (and racially motivated, although that’s only implied in the book), and he tells his boys to let the guy go.

[What's not to like?]

Mar 7 2015 1:00pm

Crimes Against Film: Super Bitch (1973)

I have watched this movie three times now, and twice while planning to write about it for this site. I didn’t get around to doing a piece on it after the second viewing, because I was left unsure as to how it should be presented. It’s neither a full-on campy romp nor a consistently high-quality film I can praise without my tongue resting in my cheek. Super Bitch, which has carried different titles over the decades (I’m going with the one that’s on the DVD I own), is somewhere in between those two classifications. But clearly it has a kind of hold over me, and is one I’ve wanted to cover, so here goes.

Super Bitch is a poliziottesco, i.e. an Italian crime/cop film from the late 1960s/’70s. The cinematic style is similar to that of Italian giallo movies, both of them edgy/often violent features with a clear European feel, the difference being that gialli are more on the arty/stylish side of crime/suspense stories and poliziottesco titles lean more in the direction of being straight, hard-nosed toughies. Think Dirty Harry movies as made through the creative outlook of an Italian director, and you’ll have an idea of the type of film at hand here.

[Got it, punk?]

Feb 20 2015 11:30am

Two-Lane Blacktop: An Offbeat Cross-Country Race

I just watched Monte Hellman’s moody 1971 road movie Two-Lane Blacktop for maybe the fifth time. After being dazzled by the film once again, I asked myself, because there are numerous qualities that make the movie such a keeper for me, via which winning aspect do I begin?

Makes sense to start with the storyline, which is compelling. Written by Rudolph Wurlitzer and Will Cory, the tale is of a cross-country car race. One entrant is a team of two young men who don’t seem to do much in life except roar around in their custom-made Chevy, looking for someone stupid enough to challenge them to a sprint. The other is a lone wolf who zooms around in a GTO, and whom also appears to be at mostly loose ends in life. The two cars and their occupants keep encountering each other on the highways and at roadside places, as they wander through parts of California, Arizona and New Mexico. Finally, after some attitude exchanges on the road and some lippy chatter at a service station, they decide it’s time they shut up and put up: they’re going to race all the way to Washington, D.C.  And the winner gets the other’s ride.

[*waves the checkered flag*]