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Old 01-25-2010, 07:56 AM   #1
Kenneth_Moore
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Default It's Close Enough

Vanishing Point vs. Vanishing Point

The original Vanishing Point film arrived at the local theater in Cocoa Beach in 1972. I was a Sophomore in High School, and tagged along to see it with my sister and her date. The 1997 remake of the movie was produced for television, and appears on the cable movie channels from time to time. I caught the TeeVee version a few nights ago, and decided to get the original version to compare.

The core of the plot is identical in both movies. A guy named Kowalski in a Dodge Challenger is trying to get from Point A to Point B at high speed, without regard for the speed limit. The cops are trying to stop him. The public is aroused in support of Kowalski by a radio DJ, who portrays him as a symbol of the downtrodden citizenry; the last rider on the open plain, a Real American Hero.

The original movie hero's motivation was speed (the drug) and a bet he made with his dope dealer. Cause enough in the 70's, not so good in the late '90s; the TeeVee version has Kowalski's wife dying due to childbirth complications. In both versions, Kowalski served in the military (Vietnam versus Iraq) and won medals for heroism.

The DJ in the original version was called "Super Soul," a role admirably played by Cleavon Little. Super Soul aids Kowalski in eluding the cops until he is beaten half to death by an angry white mob (Super Soul is Black and blind, and the white population of the hick town his radio station is located in hates him). Super Soul plays a series of excellent music tracks that form the movie's musical score. The TeeVee version DJ is a white, right-wing talk show host. Go figure.

The original movie used at least a few genuine Challenger R/Ts; allegedly with a supercharger. I say at least a few, because some of the stunts were obviously destructive. In those days a Challenger could be had pretty cheaply, and clearly Dodge provided all the cars for the movie, even the cop cars. The remake probably used vehicles of the same body style, but by 1997, genuine R/Ts were too valuable to throw away on a TeeVee movie. The TeeVee version had a local cop with a hopped-up Dodge; I think it may have been a Charger.

Kowalski escapes the cops by driving into the Arizona desert. In both movies, he meets a whacko desert rat who is collecting snakes. In the 70's movie, the snake guy takes Kowalski to a Jesus Freak encampment where Delany and Bonnie are playing. In the 90's, he takes Kowalski to an Native American village, where he hangs out naked with another man in a sweat lodge. In the 70's version, Kowalski visits a biker's house where a totally hot naked chick is riding around on a Honda. She offers him a joint and more...yet he refuses, and we are left to wonder why...

Both movies end the same way, or appear to. In the 70's Kowalski tries to get through the California Highway Patrol, but the CHP female drones with their punch-card computers and analog display of a lighted dot moving along a map line are simply too much for him to overcome. And, CHP has a "helio-copter" machine that can fly over the road and watch him. In the 90's, the cops simply grind him down and lead him into a trap where two giant bulldozers have blocked the road. The '70's movie ends with Kowalski driving into the bulldozer blades at over 140 mph. In the 90's version, the car drives into the bulldozers, but is Kowalski inside? As the credits roll, we see what appears to be an older Kowalski in the Indian (oops, N.A.) village with a young girl who might be his daughter who survived his wife's death.

The best part of the 70's movie was the parking lot of the theater when the movie got out. This was just before the first gas crisis, and there were dozens of muscle cars in the lot. We were all so amped up from the film, every damn one of them did burnouts and tore down A1A at high speed. I didn't like "muscle cars" those days; I had a Sprite and later a Datsun. But damn I liked that Challenger, even then. The sound it makes in the film makes it worth renting.
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Old 01-25-2010, 09:27 AM   #2
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Y'know, since this is a motorcycle-site, you could've mentioned what kind of bike the unclothed lass was riding...


I remember LOVING that movie. But, as happens way too often, when I see a beloved oldie now, it's nowhere near as good. So, I've resisted seeing it again.

And I remember a buddy telling me not to see the TV version, 'cause it sucked.
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Old 01-25-2010, 10:10 AM   #3
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In the original movie, it was actually a crappy, clapped-out '60s Camaro that "Gets the Dozer". If you watch closely, it's easy to tell. I've never seen the "modern" movie, but read someplace that Kowalski's "oil pan troubles" in the desert result in the guy bringin' him a smallblock-Chevy oil pan to "fix the car"..............

Meh.

I can suspend my disbelief of some silly plot-trick easily enough, but technical errors just set me off for some reason, I dunno.
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Old 01-25-2010, 10:37 AM   #4
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You should see the original again. It didn't age perfectly, but it's still pretty damn good. Mostly because seeing and hearing the Challenger tearing around at top speed doesn't get old. And that's 80% of the movie.

I don't know old Hondas well enough to tell the model, but it had a fair amount of bodywork...maybe a "Dream?" It's probably worth as much as the Challenger these days.
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Old 01-25-2010, 02:20 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenneth_Moore View Post
You should see the original again. It didn't age perfectly, but it's still pretty damn good. Mostly because seeing and hearing the Challenger tearing around at top speed doesn't get old. And that's 80% of the movie.

I don't know old Hondas well enough to tell the model, but it had a fair amount of bodywork...maybe a "Dream?" It's probably worth as much as the Challenger these days.
I dunno...

I watched the Wednesday and Thursday night 'Barrett-Jackson Auction' and as usual, anything MoPar seemed to sell big. I didn't get to see the big nights...
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