Friday, March 03, 2006

The Driver - 1978

The Driver starring Ryan O'neal, Bruce Dern and Isabelle Adjani is a great little noirish cult film that many people probably haven't seen and it was just recently released on dvd. It had probably been twenty years since I had seen it so I watched it last week and really enjoyed it again.

Written & directed by Walter Hill who had a great run of intelligent action movies including The Warriors, The Long Riders, Southern Comfort and his biggest hit 48 Hours. The tagline for this film is: To break the driver, the cop was willing to break the law which kind of sums up this film very well as it flips the good guy/bad guy roles, the cop as played by Bruce Dern, is actually quite the egotistical asshole and jerk, while Ryan O'neal is a freelance getaway driver for people who perform robberies and apparently he has never been caught. I read somewhere that the lead was originally writen for Steve McQueen and if you are familiar with his work you can see that he would have been perfect, the role doesn't have much dialogue which McQueen wasn't fond of, except that I think he would have been too old for the part at the time the film was actually made. O'neal does a good job as the very hard to read driver while Bruce Dern has the flashier role as the cop and is always good at playing "creepy" parts.

All the characters don't have names in the film and are listed in the credits as driver, cop, the connection and so on which adds an interesting element. Like many of the good films from the glorious film decade of the 70's they assume that people watching this are intelligent and don't want or need everything to be spelled out for them. It is a tight 90 minutes with no time wasted and naturally it has some very good stunt driving sequences. Highly recommended if you liked films like Thief with James Caan, which I haven't seen for a long, long time, To Live & Die In L.A. or the French Connection.

Has anyone seen the new movie Running Scared with Paul Walker? It got a good review in the paper I read and in the advertisements I saw they quoted Quentin Tarantino (I don't think he is the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel) as saying this is like an old Walter Hill film so I am curious about it.

What are some of your favorite noir or crime films?

Here are some of mine that come to mind.

The Maltese Falcon
The Big Sleep
The Killing
The French Connection
The Getaway
L.A. Confidential

Buy it here.

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