Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Twilight Timey - THE DRIVER on Blu-ray ""

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Twilight Timey - THE DRIVER on Blu-ray

THE DRIVER(1978; Walter Hill)
"Don't talk unless you have to," is a line spoken by Bruce Dern's "Detective" character in an alternate opening to THE DRIVER(which can be found on Twilight Time's new Blu-ray). That is a nice summation of the characters in this film for sure. Supposedly, Ryan O'Neal's character only speaks 350 words in the whole film. I believe this film got some attention when Nicolas Winding Refn's DRIVE came a few years back. It's an obvious inspiration and it's not difficult to see why(though Refn may not acknowledge it). THE DRIVER is a stripped down, throwback-noir, car chase thriller and it's a damn good one. It exists in this bleak, stylized version of Los Angeles that Walter Hill and cinematographer Philip Lathrop have so excellently created. Hill himself was an uncredited 2nd AD on BULLITT and he seems to have picked up a thing or two about filming effective car chases. And if you've not seen Ryan O'Neal outside of comedies, watch him in this(and of course BARRY LYNDON) for some evidence of his ability to be really dramatically awesome. And Bruce Dern? Don't even get me started, I love that guy. His filmography is littered with great performances and movies that I love. This is up there for me with the best Dern one can find out there. His character is quite gruff and arrogant, but he's full of quotable lines. Between this movie and Michael Ritchie's SMILE, I dare anyone to not become a Dern fan after viewing them.
THE DRIVER is absolutely a film I count among my all-time favorites. It's my favorite Walter Hill film and that is saying something as he's made some fantastic stuff in his time. For a director to crank out a resume consisting of HARD TIMES, THE DRIVER, THE WARRIORS, THE LONG RIDERS, SOUTHERN COMFORT, 48 HOURS and STREETS OF FIRE all in a row is nearly unrivaled. Just an amazing run of films, all of which I like quite a bit(controversially, I may even prefer SOUTHERN COMFORT to DELIVERANCE). I first discovered THE DRIVER via Danny Peary's Guide For the Film Fanatic(my favorite book ever). It had a short entry in the book but it was enough to catch my eye. Once I tracked it down on VHS(as I recall, I had to special order it from the video store I was working for at the time), it stayed in my collection until the dvd came out years later. Now that this Blu-ray is out I can let my dvd go. I will never not have this movie in my collection. The fact that this movie is out on Blu-ray now is beyond thrilling for me. All is right with the world. 
Twilight Time has included an isolated score track(Michael Small's music is great), an alternate opening and the trailer. Transfer looks good of course too. The neon of the Torchy's  sign never shown so bright.

This amazing piece of cinema can be purchased in High-def via Screen Archives:
https://www.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm/ID/25385/THE-DRIVER-1978/

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