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Vanishing Point (1971)

Kowalski (Barry Newman) has just driven 1,500 miles non-stop from Califonia to Denver, Colorado to deliver a car. Pausing long enough to grab a supply of benzedrine, he bets a friend that he will deliver a supercharged white 1970 Dodge Challenger from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours.

He is determined to let nothing stand in his way and he hits the road, fast. When the 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 racing driver, a disillusioned cop who couldn’t stand the corruption and brutality of his colleagues, and a 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 half-crazed 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.

Barry Newman
Victoria Medlin
Tim Scott
Lee Weaver
Karl Swenson
Super Soul
Cleavon Little
J. Hovah
Severn Darden
J. Hovah’s singers
Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

Richard C. Sarafian