Ten Great Road Trip Movies
As my own road trip winds down in Arragossa, the last stop before the 300km drive to Barcelona, I mentally drew up a list of memorable road movies…
1. Dead End
Christmas Eve, a family trying to get home, a vanishing woman, a mysterious stretch of road that seems to repeat itself forever – the staples of every horror film, but in the hands of a French director it becomes a very funny trip to the heart of one family’s everlasting hell.
2. National Lampoon’s Vacation
Surprisingly well-observed comedy based on a short story about shooting Walt Disney, Chevy Chase’s finest hour and filled with great moments, from the pan-shot of everyone asleep in the car (including the driver) to Imogen Coca’s ghastly gran, in a roadster whose colour is described by the salesman as ‘Metallic Pea’.
3. Planes, Trains & Automobiles
‘Those aren’t pillows!’ Dell Griffith, shower curtain ring salesman, teams up with Steve Martin on a journey from Chicago that includes hillbillies, stroppy airline agents and dangerous freeway driving. Watch for the single-frame skeleton and the post-credits shot.
4. Midnight Run
Charles Grodin and Robert De Niro out-deadpan one another but learn a lot as one marshalls the other across the states in an ultimately touching buddy pic. Watch out for the wristwatch.
5. The Last Detail
Foulmouthed hard-ass Jack Nicholson shepherds poor dim conscript Randy Quaid to a court marshall, only to start feeling sorry for him. Hal Ashby transforms the depressing landscape and brings heart to a dark comedy.
6. Feux Rouges
Interesting French film – the red lights of the title are tail-lights. A fighting couple split, and the husband (an alcoholic) has to find his wife in dense night traffic to save her life. It captures the horrors of night driving on a time deadline and will make your palms sweat.
7. Highway To Hell
All-but-forgotten comedy fantasy as a guy takes a short cut and is told not to stop on it under any circumstances. When he does (of course) he mets the highway cop from Hell – literally. There’s a terrific Cerberus!
8. Lost In America
Albert Brooks and his wife give up their jobs to go across America, only to lose all their money. He has to get a job in the middle of nowhere. ‘How much money are you looking for?’ asks the employment officer. Brooks tells him what he was earning in the city. There a burst of laughter. ‘No, but seriously,’ says the officer. Classic.
Tom Neal’s mean-mouthed nightclub pianist complains ‘When this drunk gave me a ten spot, I couldn’t get excited. What was it? A piece of paper crawling with germs.’ The film contains a jaw-dropping murder, in this case a telephone-cord strangling accidentally performed through a closed motel door. He should never have picked up that sleazy dame!
10. Race With The Devil
Peter Fonda and his family are vacationing in an RV when they witness a Satanists’ ritual. So far, so ordinary – but the conspiracy spirals out of control in a sustained act of racing paranoia that’s very seventies. It deserves to be remade.
All further great road movies (other than ‘Easy Rider’) in Comments please!