Director: Walter Hill
Year Released: 1978
There's a great quote by Fellini - "You exist only in what you do" - that kept surfacing in my mind while watching this (dare I say) absurdist film, one that more or less foregoes extensive dialogue and human interaction or even motivation for pure tension. Ryan O'Neal, as the title 'criminal' whose only real skill (it seems) is driving a car better than everyone else, is chased after by the hard-boiled police officer (Bruce Dern) - O'Neal's stone-like demeanor is in direct opposition to Dern's flamboyance and exaggerated facial expressions, and while O'Neal only utters about 300 or so words in total (someone at the IMDb counted), Dern's character comes loaded with every phrase used by an officer in the last 78 years of the cinema. It's cold and detached except when Hill gets to the driving scenes, which are some of the best I've ever seen. The ending doesn't betray the central concept, either, and ends up a wash for everyone, so that the chase of the 'good' versus the 'bad' can continue indefinitely. I'm positive Quentin Tarantino has seen this about two dozen times, if not more.