THE DRIVER
1978, 20th Century Fox, 90 min, USA, Dir: Walter Hill

Criminally underrated and overlooked upon its initial release Walter Hill’s auto-noir, THE DRIVER, has justifiably built a cult following over the past decade from filmmakers, cinephiles and academics alike. Created in homage to Jean-Pierre Melville and Euro crime cinema, Hill pits existential getaway driver Ryan O’Neal against pit-bull detective Bruce Dern for a cat-and-mouse pursuit across the wasted underbelly of ’70s Los Angeles.

THE DRIVER is lean, mean and underpinned by a masterful cast that delivers sardonic wit and bitter brilliance on par with the very best film noir. Making her Hollywood debut, Isabelle Adjani has never been cooler in this twilight world where names are eschewed for actions. Where Hill most notably deviates from his peers and predecessors are the truly electric chase sequences. Breathless even by today’s standards, Hill repeatedly throws the viewer against his bumpers as he perilously races across LA’s unforgiving asphalt – an astonishing accomplishment considering the now-antiquated state of cars in 1978.

An influence on almost every heist film that followed, THE DRIVER represents a highlight of Hill’s stellar career and a stone cold, tough-as-nails masterpiece.


PAPER MOON
1973, Paramount, 102 min, USA, Dir: Peter Bogdanovich

Director Peter Bogdanovich’s Depression-era tale of confidence man Ryan O’Neal and his young daughter (Tatum O’Neal, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar) fleecing naive citizens from town to town in the American Midwest is rendered in glistening and appropriately gritty black, gray and white tones by cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs. Co-starring Madeline Kahn and John Hillerman.


BARRY LYNDON
1975, Warner Bros., 183 min, Dir: Stanley Kubrick

Winner of four Academy Awards, including one for John Alcott’s marvelous cinematography (the all-candlelit interiors must be seen to be believed), BARRY LYNDON stars Ryan O’Neal as Thackeray’s flawed 18th-century soldier of fortune, struggling to find his place in a rigidly structured social hierarchy. Kubrick re-creates a bygone romantic era with a bittersweet wistfulness and a wealth of nuance and realistic detail. With Marisa Berenson, Patrick Magee, Hardy Kruger.


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