Kowalski (Barry Newman) bets a friend that he will deliver a car – a supercharged white 1970 Dodge Challenger – from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours.
Stopping long enough to pick up the pills he needs to keep going, he hits the road, fast. When police attempt to stop him, he goes faster still.
Incidents on the journey remind him of his past and a series of flashbacks provide elliptical glimpses of his past as a disillusioned cop, racing driver, and doomed lover.
Kowalski’s desert journey takes in side-trips involving faith, sex, friendship, and – in a sequence involving Charlotte Rampling as a hooded hitchhiker – death.
He picks up a vocal admirer in the form of a blind DJ named Super Soul (Cleavon Little, pre-Blazing Saddles) who dubs him “the last beautiful, free soul on this planet” as he guides him away from the cops.
But in California he hits a roadblock of bulldozers and his car goes up in flames.
Directed by Richard C. Sarafian from a script by exiled Cuban postmodernist writer Guillermo Cabrera Infante under the pseudonym Guillermo Cain, Vanishing Point is one of a handful of early 70s road movies that exist in the space opened up by Easy Rider in 1969.
J. Hovah’s singers
Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
Richard C. Sarafian