Written by Rudy Wurlitzer and Will Corry. Directed by Monte Hellman. 1971.
Two-Lane Blacktop is a movie about the greatest of all movie subjects: loneliness -- in particular that sense of isolation that comes with and is symbolized by the changing landscape of the road. These characters "can't get no satisfaction," as the Girl sings to herself, playing pinball in Arkansas. The loneliest of all is Warren Oates as G.T.O., a magnificent and goofy liar whose fabrications are ultimately woven from the lives of the car-freaks he's racing. He tells his fantastic lies to the odd hitchhikers he picks up, one of whom, the Oklahoma Hitchhiker, is "H.D. Stanton." Harry Dean slips his hand onto Oates' knee. "I'm not into that!" Oates barks. "I thought it might help you to relax," H.D. says. The joke, of course, is that nothing will. G.T.O. has no time for momentary satisfaction. He wants the pleasure of beating another man in a race and stealing his girl, the sense of personal triumph that wins him loyalty and love. Possibilities not in the road unspooling behind these characters, but rather in the blacktop still before them. "Those satisfactions," Oates says, "are permanent."
As genuine and complete a vision as I've seen.