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.


WHITE DOG
1982, Paramount, 89 min, USA, Dir: Sam Fuller

Virtually unseen outside of a few retrospective screenings, this film is the story of “a four-legged time bomb,” a powder-white German shepherd trained to attack black people. In a fit of inspired casting, teen queen Kristy McNichol (TV’s "Family") stars as the dog’s owner - but the film really belongs to Paul Winfield as an Ahab-like animal trainer, obsessed with de-programming the dog. Music by spaghetti Western composer Ennio Morricone.


SHAMPOO
1975, Sony Repertory, 109 min, USA, Dir: Hal Ashby

Director Hal Ashby’s classic mid-’70s comedy is a harsh and funny time capsule stuffed full of great performances. Warren Beatty excels as an amorous hairdresser contending with sexual politics and his many romantic entanglements, from the wife (Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Lee Grant) of his business adviser Jack Warden to Warden’s mistress (Julie Christie) and teenage daughter (Carrie Fisher, in her first role). The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay for Beatty and Robert Towne.


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