"Easy Rider" is most often name-dropped as the great road movie of the counterculture; the cry against "the man" that kicked off the New Hollywood. But Dennis Hopper’s motorcyclin’ classic looks downright naïve next to "Two-Lane Blacktop," Monte Hellman’s magnum opus.
Although ’magnum opus’ may be a bit misleading, as he cuts this film down to the barest basics: Driver, Mechanic, Girl (that’s their names,) and a tuned up Chevy ’55, racing cross-country against Warren Oates. The why’s and what’s don’t matter. What they’re really riding away from is the era, their culture, and their lives; and outrunning them is a life-and-death proposition.
Criterion previously lavished Hellman’s road picture with a stacked special edition DVD, and all the extras transfer over here. First, you get the standard inclusions - essays in the booklet, two audio commentaries (one by Hellman and fellow filmmaker Allison Anders; another by screenwriter Rudy Wurlitzer and David Meyer,) and a number of extra interviews (Hellman, some of the acting team and production crew, and even Kris Kristofferson!)
But you also get some far-more-specific extras fine-tuned for the hardcore fans "Two-Lane" has fostered in the decades since release. Photos from the set, publicity stills, and the trailer are sure to please. But it’s the collection of screen tests from the acting cast, and the short look at the restoration of that glorious Chevy, that are worth the price of admission alone. There’s enough must-watch stuff here for fans to get you through a cross-country road trip.