Not even the rain halted shooting....
Not even the rain halted shooting. In fact, Hellman credits the rain for adding excitement to an otherwise slow-paced scene when the characters arrive in Boswell, Oklahoma, early in the morning to find the town asleep.
HPP: With all the re-releases, do you view the movie again and critique yourself? Is there any second guessing now, all these years later?
MH: Well, I regret some of the scenes we left out, even though I'm sure that the decision was right at the time. I do that a lot with other movies, but not so much with Two-Lane because it's so different from other movies, and certainly the bulk of my other work. I'm not used to working without a story and it's just kind of a thing of it's own. I just accept it for what it is. It has success and makes me satisfied. It had big success in London, to the point where my agent went to see it again and the theater was sold out. That was a lot of fun. Now the DVD is doing so well, it's the first time I can really say it's a hit. On some of the Web sites that are selling it, it's in the Number 1 or Number 2 position.
HPP: Do you have any other favorite road movies?
MH: My favorite would probably be the movie that inspired Kris Kristofferson to write "Me and Bobby McGee," La Strada.
HPP: With all the press surrounding Two-Lane Blacktop now, do you envision a modern-day remake?
MH: No I don't. I never see the point in remaking anything, unless it was done badly. That's the only reason you'd remake something.
HPP: Do you think a road movie could be made today in the same style that you did it in 1970?
MH: Looking back, I don't even see how we had a chance to make it then. I think it's a very difficult type of movie to do, regardless of the year. Today, anything's possible, but I think it would be improbable.
The New Release
The Criterion Collection's (Criterion.com) new two-disc release of Two-Lane Blacktop features:
• Newly restored, high-definition digital transfer and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, supervised and approved by Hellman
• Two audio commentaries from Hellman and filmmaker Allison Anders, and from Rudy Wurlitzer and author David Meyer
• New interviews with Hellman, James Taylor, Kris Kristofferson, Producer Michael S. Laughlin and Production Manager Walter Coblenz
• Never-before-seen screen test outtakes
• A look at the restoration of one of the '55s
• Some of the film's shooting locations today
• Photos and publicity for Two-Lane Blacktop
• Original theatrical trailer
• Rudy Wurlitzer's screenplay reprinted
• Appreciations by Richard Linklater and Tom Waits
• A reprint of the '70 Rolling Stone article "On Route 66 Filming Two-Lane Blacktop," by Michael Goodwin
Monte Hellman, circa 2007...
Monte Hellman, circa 2007.
About Monte Hellman
"They're all road movies: China 9 Liberty 37 was a road movie, The Shooting was a road movie, and Ride the Whirlwind was a road movie. I only make road movies," explains the famed director. Let's learn more about the man behind Two-Lane Blacktop.
High Performance Pontiac: Why did you want to become a director? Was it a childhood dream?
Monte Hellman: Actually, it was. The first time I directed, I was 10 years old. I wrote and directed something at a Y camp. I think I was always in love with the movies. I never thought I had a chance to become a director in films because at the time I thought, like everyone else, that you had to be born into it and have family in the business. My original goal was to become a theater director, and that's what I started with. I studied theater at Stanford University. I began working in summer stock after I did some graduate work at UCLA. I had a chance to work in the editing side of the business, as a film editor, then I did some film work in Los Angeles.
HPP: And then you went to work for Director Roger Corman?
MH: I knew Roger Corman because my wife was an actress and she was working for him. I knew him socially and he invested in one of my theater projects. I didn't mean to become a film director.
HPP: How much of an influence was he?
MH: His main influence was showing me that you could make a movie for any price.