This Labor Day weekend, Hollywood is closing out the summer with the always dependable driving film in the Ethan Hawke vehicle Getaway. Even amid an industry increasingly infatuated with huge spectacle and the supernatural, the comparably modest car movie still remains in style — just ask the guys behind the Fast and Furious franchise, currently working on number seven! As we say farewell to summer, let’s take a look back at a couple of our favorite driving films.
The Driver: A loose retelling of Jean-Pierre Melville’s noir classic Le Samouraï, Walter Hill’s 1978 film The Driver set the standard for driving films to follow. Ryan O’Neal plays the unnamed, mostly silent protagonist, “the cowboy who’s never been caught,” as his pursuer refers to him, attempting to outrun the law in a series of stolen cars left for junk car removal.
Drive: A feature-length homage to the great car movies of the ’70s and ’80s (and The Driver in particular), even down to the neon-colored brush script titles, Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 breakthrough Drive became a pop-culture sensation, thanks in no small part to the brooding intensity of lead Ryan Gosling and the smarmy antagonism of Albert Brooks. Refn even nailed the sound of the era with a soundtrack by composer Cliff Martinez and featuring Johnny Jewel and Kavinsky.