One of the Hollywood staples is the Road Movie. A film that takes place almost entirely on the road, with races, wrecks, and chases. Here are the top fifteen Road Movies of all time.
15. Convoy (Dir. Sam Peckinpah, 1978)
Truckers form a mile long “convoy” in support of a trucker’s vendetta with an abusive sheriff…Based on the country song of same title by C.W. McCall.
14. It Happened One Night (Dir. Frank Capra, 1934)
Ellie Andrews has just, rather reluctantly, wed aviator King Westley when she is whisked away to her father’s yacht and out of King’s clutches. Ellie jumps ship and eventually winds up on a bus headed back to her husband. Against her wishes, she must accept the help of out-of- work reporter Peter Warne. Actually, Warne doesn’t give her any choice: either she sticks with him until he gets her back to her husband, or he’ll blow the whistle on Ellie to her father. Either way, Peter gets what (he thinks!) he wants …. a really juicy newspaper story.
13. Thelma and Louise (Dir. Ridley Scott, 1991)
While on a short weekend getaway, Louise shoots a man who had tried to rape Thelma. Due to the incriminating circumstances, they make a run for it but are soon followed closely by the authorities including a local policeman who is sympathetic to their plight. The federal authorities, however, have less compassion and thus a cross country chase ensues for the two fugitives. Along the way, both women rediscover the strength of their friendship and surprising aspects of their personalities and self-strengths in the trying times.
12. Motorcycle Diaries (Dir. Walter Salles, 2004)
“The Motorcycle Diaries” is based on the journals of Che Guevara, leader of the Cuban Revolution. In his memoirs, Guevara recounts adventures he, and best friend Alberto Granado, had while crossing South America by motorcycle in the early 1950s.
11. The Reivers (Dir. Mark Rydell, 1969)
An old man looks back 60 years to a road trip from rural Mississippi to Memphis, a horse race, and his own coming of age. Lucius’s grandfather gets the first automobile in the area, a bright yellow Winton Flyer. While he’s away, the plantation handyman, Boon Hogganbeck, conspires to borrow the car, taking Lucius with him. Stowed away is Ned, a mulatto and Lucius’s putative cousin. The three head for Memphis, where Boon’s sweetheart works in a whorehouse, where Ned trades the car for a racehorse, and where Lucius discovers the world of adults.
10. Vanishing Point (Dir. Richard C. Sarafian, 1971)
Kowalski, the hero of the story, works for a car delivery service. He takes delivery of a 1970 Dodge Challenger to take from Colorado to Frisco, California. Shortly after pickup, he takes a bet to get the car there in less than 15 hours. After a few run-ins with motorcycle cops and highway patrol they start a chase to bring him into custody. Along the way, Kowalski is guided by Supersoul – a blind DJ with a police radio scanner. Throw in lots of chase scenes, gay hitchhikers, a naked woman riding a motorbike, lots of Mopar and you’ve got a great cult hit from the early 70′s.
9. Smokey and the Bandit (Dir. Hal Needham, 1977)
Bandit and Cledus are two truck-driving southerners who accept a dare from big-shots Big and Little Enos to pick up a truckload of beer from Texas and return it to them within a specified amount of time. Picking it up is simple enough, but as they are leaving Texas, Bandit unwittingly picks up Carrie, a hitchhiking bride-to-be who just left her groom, Junior, at the altar. Junior, however, is the son of Sheriff Buford T. Justice. And when Buford and Junior discover what has happened, they go on a “high-speed pursuit” across the Southeast to catch the bandit.
8. Mad Max (Dir. George Miller, 1979)
It is a few years in the future… The highways of Australia are ruled by violent gangs who have turned the highways into a battleground as they loot gasoline and terrorize the innocent. Max Rockatansky is a policeman who had everything… Until, a murderous motorcycle gang led by the evil Toecutter burns his partner Jim Goose to death and murders his wife and son, after Max killed their leader “The Knight Rider”. Losing his rocker, Max decides to take the law into his own hands as he sets out to get his revenge on the motorcycle gang and become the road warrior known as “Mad Max”.
7. Death Proof (Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 2007)
Stuntman Mike is a former Hollywood stunt race car driver who targets and kills women with his “death-proof” stunt car. In Act I, Mike surfaces in Austin, Texas to target a group of women whom he knows; Jungle Julia an outgoing, dope-smoking, radio DJ/fashion model meeting her old school friends for a night on the town whom are sentimental model Arlene, and local bad-girl Shanna, as well as bar-nut hippie Pam who tries to make Mike notice her, unaware of his sociopath and misogynist tendencies. In Act II, Stuntman Mike surfaces in Tennessee where he randomly picks another another group of women to stalk all of whom work in the motion picture business; Abernathy is a make-up girl and stand-in wanting a change of pace in her life. Lee is a naive B-movie actress. Kim is a tough-minded stunt woman always wanting action. And Zoe is a fellow stunt woman from New Zealand visiting her friends. However, the second set of girls proves more tough to get, and because of a combination of bad luck and Stuntman Mike’s carelessness, the girls decide to turn the tables on their tormentor for revenge of their own.
6. Duel (Dir. Steven Spielberg, 1971)
David Mann is just as his name suggests: an everyman with a mediocre job who has trouble standing up for himself. While driving through the desert to an important appointment, he passes a slow-moving, rusty tanker truck. The driver proves to have a severe case of road-rage and takes offense at this seemingly everyday action, devoting the rest of his day purely to trying to kill Mann. The malevolent driver is never seen, giving the impression that it’s the truck itself that is the aggressor.
5. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (Dir. John Hughes, 1987)
All that Neal Page wants to do is to get home for Thanksgiving. His flight has been canceled due to bad weather, so he decides on other means of transport. As well as bad luck, Neal is blessed with the presence of Del Griffith, Shower Curtain Ring Salesman and all-around blabbermouth, who is never short of advice, conversation, bad jokes, or company. And then he decides that he is going the same direction as Neal.
4. Breakdown (Dir. Johnathan Mostow, 1997)
A man and his wife are driving cross-country from Mass. to San Diego when their new car mysteriously breaks down. A truck driver stops and assists them by taking his wife to the nearest diner to phone for help but in reality is kidnapping her causing her husband to track his wife and the kidnapper down himself.
3. Cannonball Run (Dir. Hal Needham, 1981)
The plot of a cross-country road race is based on an actual event, the Cannonball Baker Sea to Shining Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, -and honestly couldn’t be more simpler (a good thing, by the way)- organized by Brock Yates to protest the 55 mph speed limit then in effect in the U.S. The Cannonball was named for Ernest G. “Cannonball” Baker, who in the roaring 20′s rode his motorcycle across the country. Many of the characters are based on ruses developed by real Cannonball racers over the several years that the event was run.
2. Easy Rider Dir. Dennis Hopper, 1969)
Simply put: Wyatt and Billy are two motorcycle riders (bikers) on their way to Mardis Gras, and encounter hitchhikers, a drunken lawyer, a jail cell, a whorehouse and the death of a friend.
1. Death Race 2000 (Dir. Paul Bartel, 1975)
In the near future the ultimate sporting event is the ‘Deathrace’. Contestants score points for running people down as they speed across the country. The sport has crazed fans who sacrifice themselves to the drivers. An overt agency is trying to bring an end to the immoral ‘Deathrace’ and has infiltrated one of their followers in to the race as a navigator. In the end of the race the lives of the competitors, the President and the ‘Deathrace’ itself are in peril.
One week before her sex-change operation, Bree receives a call from a 17-year-old identifying himself as her son from a college liaison. Bree’s psychiatrist won’t approve the surgery until Bree deals with this relationship, so Bree flies to New York City, bails the youth out of juvenile detention, and offers him a ride back to Los Angeles without disclosing that she is his father.
Notable Omissions: Mary Sweeney