Vanishing Point


1h 47m 1971
Vanishing Point

Brief Synopsis

A car delivery driver leads the police on a merry chase to win a bet.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Adventure
Action
Release Date
Mar 1971
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 18 Mar 1971; New York opening: 24 Mar 1971
Production Company
Cupid Productions
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
California, United States; Colorado, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 47m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1
Film Length
11 reels

Synopsis

At 10:02 Friday night in Denver, Kowalski, who drives cars from Denver to San Francisco for the Argos Car Transport Company, delivers a car and picks up a white Dodge Challenger to drive right back to California. On his way out of town, Kowalski stops to buy some Benzedrine to fuel him for the trip. When Kowalski tells Jake, his drug dealer, that he intends to reach San Francisco by three p.m. the following day, Jake bets him the cost of the drugs that he will never make it. Meanwhile, in the semi-deserted ghost town of Goldfield, Super Soul, a blind black man, enters a makeshift radio station and begins to broadcast soul music, which Kowalski listens to while racing along the highway. When a highway patrol officer on a motorcycle tries to pull over Kowalski for speeding, Kowalski passes him, and when another motorcycle patrolman joins the pursuit, Kowalski runs them both off the road. Barreling on, Kowalski avoids another patrolman by crashing through a construction barrier and landing his car on an adjoining road. Frustrated, the police issue an all-points bulletin for Kowalski that is heard by Super Soul, who monitors the police transmissions in the area. Pursued by several police cars, Kowalski jumps the road and plows his car down to the road below. When another police car pulls out in front of him, Kowalski slaloms his car onto the dirt, leaving the police car skidding behind him. As Kowalski continues on, a driver in a sports car challenges him to a race, then sideswipes his car. Kowalski roars past the sports car, and when the driver tries to pass him, Kowalski forces him off the road, sending the car tumbling into a dry river bed. Hearing police sirens in the distance, Kowalski makes sure the driver is uninjured, then tears off. With Colorado highway patrolmen in pursuit, Kowalski crosses the state border into Nevada, leaving his Colorado pursuers behind. Impressed by Kowalski's feat, Super Soul pays tribute to him on his radio program, naming him the "last American hero because he is the last free soul on the planet." In the Nevada desert, two police officers are radioed to watch for the white Challenger. When Kowalski sees the officers' car and deliberately drives toward them to force them off the road, they angrily pursue him as a Colorado police bulletin comes over their radio, describing Kowalski as a professional race driver. When one of the officers loses control of his car, they are forced to flag down another police car to continue the pursuit. Jumping off the road, Kowalski heads into the desert as Super Soul cautions that he will never be able to beat the desert. When one of the Challenger's tires goes flat, Kowalski stops to change it. While bending over the tire, Kowalski spots a coiled rattlesnake about to strike when a grizzled old prospector appears, lassoes the snake and locks it in his basket. When Kowalski asks the prospector for help, the old man, whose truck has broken down, agrees if Kowalski will drive him to his destination. The prospector then camouflages Kowalski's car with sagebrush, concealing it from the police helicopter hovering overhead. After the helicopter flies off, Kowalski drives the prospector to a desert revival meeting led by J. Hovah. When the prospector delivers the snakes to Hovah, Hovah irritably states that he has turned from snakes to music to get his message across and unceremoniously dumps the reptiles onto the ground. Although Hovah is angry that the prospector brought a stranger to the meeting, he furnishes Kowalski with a can of gas to fill up his tank after which the prospector gives Kowalski directions on how to navigate out of the desert. At the Nevada highway patrol headquarters, meanwhile, a Telex arrives detailing Kowalski's past, revealing that after serving in Vietnam, he joined the police force but was dishonorably discharged in 1968. Angered at Super Soul for broadcasting helpful information to Kowalski, several vigilantes break into the radio station, beat up Super Soul and smash the facilities, thus silencing the station. Soon after, Angel, a hippie motorcyclist, pulls up beside Kowalski's car and asks if he needs help. When Kowalski asks him for some pep pills, Angel leads him to a shack he shares with his girl friend. When the radio station comes back on and Super Soul advises that Sonora is the only border crossing not blocked by the police, Kowalski suspects a trap and Angel rides out to investigate. Upon returning with the news that the police are waiting in Sonora for Kowalski, Angel helps him disguise the Challenger as a police vehicle. Consequently, when Kowalski, with siren wailing and lights flashing, speeds toward the Sonora border crossing, the police mistake his car for an official vehicle and in their haste to clear the road, smash their cars into one another. In California, the highway patrol, with their sophisticated, automated tracking system, calmly reassure their Nevada colleagues that they will apprehend Kowalski. On Sunday morning, Super Soul broadcasts gospel music and renames the station "Kowalski." Meanwhile, on the road from Sonora to San Francisco, the police trundle in bulldozers to blockade Kowalski while the townsfolk gather, waiting for Kowalski's arrival. Soon after, Kowalski comes roaring in, crashing his car into the blades of the bulldozers. As the car explodes into a ball of fire, Super Soul sits silently and the spectators gawk, then walk away.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Adventure
Action
Release Date
Mar 1971
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 18 Mar 1971; New York opening: 24 Mar 1971
Production Company
Cupid Productions
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
California, United States; Colorado, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 47m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1
Film Length
11 reels

Articles

Vanishing Point -


The success of Easy Rider (1969) kicked wider the door in Hollywood for opportunities for young filmmakers, particularly those willing to work for scale and to shoot their pictures out in the real world beyond the studio gates. Road movies were nothing new in the early Seventies but cinematic wandering took on a fresh aspect when location shooting became the rule rather than the exception and storylines began to reflect the concerns and preoccupations of a generation that valued authenticity over appearance. In a bid to profit from Columbia's good fortune with Easy Rider (which returned better than $60,000,000 from an investment of $400,000), a slew of like-minded, open-ended road films were given the green light by the majors: Two Lane Blacktop (1971) from Universal, Slither (1973) from Metro, Badlands (1973), Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), and Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins (1975) from Warner Bros. - even Disney's The Aristocats (1970) was a road picture - and Vanishing Point (1971) from 20th Century-Fox. Vanishing Point's plot was simplicity in and of itself: a professional driver (Barry Newman) attempts to race the 1,300 miles from Denver to San Francisco in only 15 hours, eluding and thwarting state police efforts to stop him along the way and aided in his increasingly existential quest by a blind disc jockey (Cleavon Little) and a growing legion of devoted followers.

While many of the early 70s road films reflected the personal visions of their makers-certainly true for Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider and Monte Hellman's Two Lane Blacktop--Vanishing Point had a patchwork genesis. The logline came from an unlikely source: not a Hollywood insider or even a film school hopeful but rather a British fashion photographer. Malcolm Hart had drifted from early work in the South African advertising business to Manhattan, where an assignment photographing French fashions brought him to Paris in the mid-Sixties. While staying in a rundown hotel in the Latin Quarter where William Burroughs had completed his novel Naked Lunch, Hart learned about the Beat Generation, members of an American literary movement whose principals also included poet Allen Ginsberg and On the Road author Jack Kerouac, both of whom had passed through the so-called "Beat Hotel." The 1969 death of Beat icon Neal Cassidy, as well as a newspaper account of a speeding motorist who chose death over surrendering to the California Highway Patrol, inspired Hart to pen a screenplay treatment, which he titled Pick a Card, Any Card. The property was purchased by the London-based Cupid Productions, who had financed Sympathy for the Devil (1968), a collaboration between nouvelle vague auteur Jean-Luc Godard and the Rolling Stones. Cupid Productions was run by David Lean's fiftyish former production manager Norman Spencer, rich kid Michael Pearson (the 26 year-old son of the 3rd Viscount Cowdray), and a Canadian expatriate named Iain Quarrier.

Having migrated to London, Quarrier acted as Roman Polanski's ambassador when the Polish filmmaker emigrated to the United Kingdom after making his first feature film, Knife in the Water (1962); Polanski rewarded Quarrier with roles in Cul-de-Sac (1966) and The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967). Possessed with Byronic good looks and a languid demeanor bespoke for the times, Quarrier had a starring role in Joe Massot's Wonderwall (1968), a trippy British head film that boasted Beatle George Harrison's first music composed specifically for the movies. Wonderwall was co-written by yet another expatriate, Cuban refugee Guillermo Cabrera Infante. The son of Castro Communists, Cabrera Infante had been a journalist and critic but was forced to flee Havana when his writing angered the Castro regime. It was likely Quarrier's influence that brought Cabrera Infante to the project that would ultimately carry the title Vanishing Point. The writer reimagined Malcolm Hart's treatment as a mystical vision quest, the story of a man who grows weary of his mortality and seeks transcendence in velocity. When 20th Century-Fox acquired the property in 1970, Cabrera Infante was flown to Los Angeles to meet the studio brass. Interviewed in 1982 for The Paris Review, the writer recalled:

"The only thing like a story conference that happened to me took place when I met (20th Century Fox president) Richard Zanuck. He asked me what the title Vanishing Point meant, and I told him all about linear perspective and the end of a man as convergence of life lines. He thanked me and that was that."

With Cabrera Infante assisting in scouting locations, principal photography for Vanishing Point began in May 1970.

Assigned to direct Vanishing Point was Richard C. Sarafian, a TV veteran and a former protégé of Robert Altman, who had broken with his mentor when Altman attempted to seize control of Sarafian's feature film directorial debut, Andy (1965), the drama of a mentally-challenged adult. Sarafian had turned down the opportunity to helm Paramount's Robert Redford vehicle Downhill Racer (1969) but latched onto the idea of building a film around the dynamic of speed, a concept he considered to be fully realized in Cabrera Infante's screenplay for Vanishing Point. Sarafian had wanted to cast Downhill Racer's second male lead Gene Hackman as Kowalski, the driver protagonist of Vanishing Point, but Fox nixed the notion; the studio further vetoed the idea of using George C. Scott, fresh from his success in Patton (1970) but a notoriously difficult actor. (Interestingly, Hackman went on to star in Fox's The French Connection (1971), which featured a now famous car chase beneath Brooklyn's elevated subway tracks, while Scott starred as a wheelman in The Last Run (1971), both released only months behind Vanishing Point.) Fox's choice for Sarafian's lead was non-negotiable: Barry Newman, who had made an impression as a firebrand attorney in Paramount's The Lawyer (1970), a fictionalized spin of the infamous Dr. Sam Sheppard murder trial that had been the inspiration for the CBS television series The Fugitive. Though he balked at the requirement of using a much younger actor than he had envisioned, Sarafian accepted the decision and hit the road.

Despite a reputation for being an efficient director, Sarafian allowed a healthy measure of improvisation to shape Vanishing Point's tight shooting schedule, to the point of recruiting amateurs to play background roles and working in unexpected bits of real life business (e.g., a road crew painting a center line along the highway, whom Kowalski causes to veer comically off course) encountered en route. When the costs of transporting cast and crew (and a fleet of identical '70 Dodge Challengers to play Kowalski's souped up car, all but one of which were totaled during principal photography) across several state lines began to eat into the film's profit margin, a fretful Richard Zanuck begged Sarafian to cut costs-with the result being that the director tore twenty pages out of the script, which he then had to script doctor to patch up the holes. (Lost in the restructuring was the entire performance of British actress Charlotte Rampling, who appeared only in the film's European cut.) The director also gave free reign to his actors, allowing bit players Anthony James and Arthur Malet (as larcenous gay hitchhikers who thumb a very short ride with Kowalski) to provide their own accessories (while James chose a pair of pink sunglasses, Malet shaved off his eyebrows) and scuttling a subplot about Kowalski's encounter with a snake-worshipping religious cult when featured singers Rita Coolidge and Delaney & Bonnie and Friends objected. Though Cabrera Infante's shooting script had left Kowalski's ultimate fate somewhat ambiguous, inferring that he passes on to another plane of being, Zanuck demanded that the movie end with the character's death, precipitating Vanishing Point's now iconic denouement.

After Sarafian delivered his footage to Fox, it was Richard Zanuck himself who pushed the project over budget as he ordered the film's soundtrack to be remixed and enhanced to beef up the engine roar of Kowalski's Dodge Challenger. (Sarafian would later complain that Zanuck's overages had an adverse effect on his net point profits, prompting him to re-title the film Vanishing Points). Zanuck was ultimately removed from his position of power by his own father but Vanishing Point went on to earn back $12,000,000 from a budget of $1.5 million. (With partner David Brown, Zanuck would return to Universal as an independent producer and score big time with Steven Spielberg's Jaws in 1975.) Forty years down the road, Vanishing Point remains a true cult classic, with Kowalski's trademark Challenger recycled for use in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof half of the Tarantino-Robert Rodriguez two-fer Grindhouse (2007) and Malcolm Hart's logline repurposed, albeit liberally, for a 1997 TV movie. Starring Viggo Mortensen as a character racing across the desert to reunite with his pregnant wife with the assistance of libertarian shock jock Jason Priestley and intervention on both a state and federal level, Fox Television's Vanishing Point channeled the paranoiac vibe of post-Waco/Ruby Ridge America, offered instead of Barry Newman's laconic speed freak a chaste, drug-free Kowalski who becomes a martyr for the Sovereign Citizen movement and conspiracy culture.

By Richard Harland Smith

Sources:

Guillermo Cabrera Infante: Two Islands, Many worlds by Raymond D. Souza (University of Texas Press, 1996)
Memoirs of an Underground Filmmaker by Malcolm Hart (Barncott Press, 2015)
Audio commentary for Vanishing Point by Richard C. Sarafian (Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD, 2005)
Interview with Richard C. Sarafian by Michael T. Toole, TCM.com
Interview with Richard C. Sarafian by Glenn Kenny, SomeCameRunning.com
Interview with Guillermo Cabrera Infante by Alfred McAdam, The Paris Review No. 87, Spring 1983
Robert Altman: Jumping Off the Cliff by Patrick McGilligan (Macmillan, 1989)
Anthony James: Acting My Face, A Memoir by Anthony James (University Press of Mississippi, 2014)
Vanishing Point -

Vanishing Point -

The success of Easy Rider (1969) kicked wider the door in Hollywood for opportunities for young filmmakers, particularly those willing to work for scale and to shoot their pictures out in the real world beyond the studio gates. Road movies were nothing new in the early Seventies but cinematic wandering took on a fresh aspect when location shooting became the rule rather than the exception and storylines began to reflect the concerns and preoccupations of a generation that valued authenticity over appearance. In a bid to profit from Columbia's good fortune with Easy Rider (which returned better than $60,000,000 from an investment of $400,000), a slew of like-minded, open-ended road films were given the green light by the majors: Two Lane Blacktop (1971) from Universal, Slither (1973) from Metro, Badlands (1973), Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), and Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins (1975) from Warner Bros. - even Disney's The Aristocats (1970) was a road picture - and Vanishing Point (1971) from 20th Century-Fox. Vanishing Point's plot was simplicity in and of itself: a professional driver (Barry Newman) attempts to race the 1,300 miles from Denver to San Francisco in only 15 hours, eluding and thwarting state police efforts to stop him along the way and aided in his increasingly existential quest by a blind disc jockey (Cleavon Little) and a growing legion of devoted followers. While many of the early 70s road films reflected the personal visions of their makers-certainly true for Dennis Hopper's Easy Rider and Monte Hellman's Two Lane Blacktop--Vanishing Point had a patchwork genesis. The logline came from an unlikely source: not a Hollywood insider or even a film school hopeful but rather a British fashion photographer. Malcolm Hart had drifted from early work in the South African advertising business to Manhattan, where an assignment photographing French fashions brought him to Paris in the mid-Sixties. While staying in a rundown hotel in the Latin Quarter where William Burroughs had completed his novel Naked Lunch, Hart learned about the Beat Generation, members of an American literary movement whose principals also included poet Allen Ginsberg and On the Road author Jack Kerouac, both of whom had passed through the so-called "Beat Hotel." The 1969 death of Beat icon Neal Cassidy, as well as a newspaper account of a speeding motorist who chose death over surrendering to the California Highway Patrol, inspired Hart to pen a screenplay treatment, which he titled Pick a Card, Any Card. The property was purchased by the London-based Cupid Productions, who had financed Sympathy for the Devil (1968), a collaboration between nouvelle vague auteur Jean-Luc Godard and the Rolling Stones. Cupid Productions was run by David Lean's fiftyish former production manager Norman Spencer, rich kid Michael Pearson (the 26 year-old son of the 3rd Viscount Cowdray), and a Canadian expatriate named Iain Quarrier. Having migrated to London, Quarrier acted as Roman Polanski's ambassador when the Polish filmmaker emigrated to the United Kingdom after making his first feature film, Knife in the Water (1962); Polanski rewarded Quarrier with roles in Cul-de-Sac (1966) and The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967). Possessed with Byronic good looks and a languid demeanor bespoke for the times, Quarrier had a starring role in Joe Massot's Wonderwall (1968), a trippy British head film that boasted Beatle George Harrison's first music composed specifically for the movies. Wonderwall was co-written by yet another expatriate, Cuban refugee Guillermo Cabrera Infante. The son of Castro Communists, Cabrera Infante had been a journalist and critic but was forced to flee Havana when his writing angered the Castro regime. It was likely Quarrier's influence that brought Cabrera Infante to the project that would ultimately carry the title Vanishing Point. The writer reimagined Malcolm Hart's treatment as a mystical vision quest, the story of a man who grows weary of his mortality and seeks transcendence in velocity. When 20th Century-Fox acquired the property in 1970, Cabrera Infante was flown to Los Angeles to meet the studio brass. Interviewed in 1982 for The Paris Review, the writer recalled: "The only thing like a story conference that happened to me took place when I met (20th Century Fox president) Richard Zanuck. He asked me what the title Vanishing Point meant, and I told him all about linear perspective and the end of a man as convergence of life lines. He thanked me and that was that." With Cabrera Infante assisting in scouting locations, principal photography for Vanishing Point began in May 1970. Assigned to direct Vanishing Point was Richard C. Sarafian, a TV veteran and a former protégé of Robert Altman, who had broken with his mentor when Altman attempted to seize control of Sarafian's feature film directorial debut, Andy (1965), the drama of a mentally-challenged adult. Sarafian had turned down the opportunity to helm Paramount's Robert Redford vehicle Downhill Racer (1969) but latched onto the idea of building a film around the dynamic of speed, a concept he considered to be fully realized in Cabrera Infante's screenplay for Vanishing Point. Sarafian had wanted to cast Downhill Racer's second male lead Gene Hackman as Kowalski, the driver protagonist of Vanishing Point, but Fox nixed the notion; the studio further vetoed the idea of using George C. Scott, fresh from his success in Patton (1970) but a notoriously difficult actor. (Interestingly, Hackman went on to star in Fox's The French Connection (1971), which featured a now famous car chase beneath Brooklyn's elevated subway tracks, while Scott starred as a wheelman in The Last Run (1971), both released only months behind Vanishing Point.) Fox's choice for Sarafian's lead was non-negotiable: Barry Newman, who had made an impression as a firebrand attorney in Paramount's The Lawyer (1970), a fictionalized spin of the infamous Dr. Sam Sheppard murder trial that had been the inspiration for the CBS television series The Fugitive. Though he balked at the requirement of using a much younger actor than he had envisioned, Sarafian accepted the decision and hit the road. Despite a reputation for being an efficient director, Sarafian allowed a healthy measure of improvisation to shape Vanishing Point's tight shooting schedule, to the point of recruiting amateurs to play background roles and working in unexpected bits of real life business (e.g., a road crew painting a center line along the highway, whom Kowalski causes to veer comically off course) encountered en route. When the costs of transporting cast and crew (and a fleet of identical '70 Dodge Challengers to play Kowalski's souped up car, all but one of which were totaled during principal photography) across several state lines began to eat into the film's profit margin, a fretful Richard Zanuck begged Sarafian to cut costs-with the result being that the director tore twenty pages out of the script, which he then had to script doctor to patch up the holes. (Lost in the restructuring was the entire performance of British actress Charlotte Rampling, who appeared only in the film's European cut.) The director also gave free reign to his actors, allowing bit players Anthony James and Arthur Malet (as larcenous gay hitchhikers who thumb a very short ride with Kowalski) to provide their own accessories (while James chose a pair of pink sunglasses, Malet shaved off his eyebrows) and scuttling a subplot about Kowalski's encounter with a snake-worshipping religious cult when featured singers Rita Coolidge and Delaney & Bonnie and Friends objected. Though Cabrera Infante's shooting script had left Kowalski's ultimate fate somewhat ambiguous, inferring that he passes on to another plane of being, Zanuck demanded that the movie end with the character's death, precipitating Vanishing Point's now iconic denouement. After Sarafian delivered his footage to Fox, it was Richard Zanuck himself who pushed the project over budget as he ordered the film's soundtrack to be remixed and enhanced to beef up the engine roar of Kowalski's Dodge Challenger. (Sarafian would later complain that Zanuck's overages had an adverse effect on his net point profits, prompting him to re-title the film Vanishing Points). Zanuck was ultimately removed from his position of power by his own father but Vanishing Point went on to earn back $12,000,000 from a budget of $1.5 million. (With partner David Brown, Zanuck would return to Universal as an independent producer and score big time with Steven Spielberg's Jaws in 1975.) Forty years down the road, Vanishing Point remains a true cult classic, with Kowalski's trademark Challenger recycled for use in Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof half of the Tarantino-Robert Rodriguez two-fer Grindhouse (2007) and Malcolm Hart's logline repurposed, albeit liberally, for a 1997 TV movie. Starring Viggo Mortensen as a character racing across the desert to reunite with his pregnant wife with the assistance of libertarian shock jock Jason Priestley and intervention on both a state and federal level, Fox Television's Vanishing Point channeled the paranoiac vibe of post-Waco/Ruby Ridge America, offered instead of Barry Newman's laconic speed freak a chaste, drug-free Kowalski who becomes a martyr for the Sovereign Citizen movement and conspiracy culture. By Richard Harland Smith Sources: Guillermo Cabrera Infante: Two Islands, Many worlds by Raymond D. Souza (University of Texas Press, 1996) Memoirs of an Underground Filmmaker by Malcolm Hart (Barncott Press, 2015) Audio commentary for Vanishing Point by Richard C. Sarafian (Anchor Bay Entertainment DVD, 2005) Interview with Richard C. Sarafian by Michael T. Toole, TCM.com Interview with Richard C. Sarafian by Glenn Kenny, SomeCameRunning.com Interview with Guillermo Cabrera Infante by Alfred McAdam, The Paris Review No. 87, Spring 1983 Robert Altman: Jumping Off the Cliff by Patrick McGilligan (Macmillan, 1989) Anthony James: Acting My Face, A Memoir by Anthony James (University Press of Mississippi, 2014)

Quotes

There goes the challenger being chased by the big blue meanies on wheels. The vicious traffic squad cars are after our lone driver, the last American hero, the electric sintar, the demi-god, the super driver of the golden west! Two nasty Nazi cars are close behind the beautiful lone driver. The police cars are getting closer-closer... Closer to our soul hero in his soul mobile- Yeah baby! They about to strike, They gonna get him, SMASH! RAPE! The last beautiful free soul on this planet.
- Super Soul

Trivia

Charlotte Rampling had a role as a hitchhiker whom Kowalski met while en route, but her scenes were deleted before release. (Reportedly, UK prints of the film still contain Rampling's scenes.)

The car featured in the film is a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T, with a 440 cubic-inch V-8, and not a 426 Hemi V-8 (as is often believed). Five white Challengers loaned from the Chrysler Corporation were used during the filming.

The Challenger had Colorado plates: OA-5599

There was actually four 440 Challenger R/Ts and one 383 Challenger R/T, which was an automatic with green interior. This one was used for some exterior shots and it pulled the '67 Camaro up to speed so the Camaro could hit the bulldozers. As confirmed by property master Dennis J. Parrish, all of the cars were NOT originally white. They were just painted white for the film. During the scene where Kowalski has a flat tire, you can see green paint in the dents.

The singer/songwriter (of Bread fame) played the piano during the rousing revival in the desert with the J. Hovah singers.

The lead character bets he can drive from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours. This would require an average speed of 85 miles per hour.

Notes

In the opening cast credits, Cleavon Little's credit appears last and reads "Cleavon Little as Super Soul." In the end credits, however, Cleavon is listed second. According to Filmfacts, Vanishing Point was shortened by eight minutes following a preview screening for the press and public. Some of the scenes that were edited involved a character played by Charlotte Rampling, who was cut from the released film but originally given third billing as a hitchhiker with whom "Kowalski" spends the night.
       The first sequence of the film, in which two bulldozers are positioned on a California road to create a blockade for Kowalski's car, actually takes place toward the film's end. In chronological order, the positioning of the bulldozers occurs again just before the film's ending, in which Kowalski crashes his car into them. This inversion of chronological order is marked by a freeze frame at the end of the first sequence in which Kowalski's car speeds past a black car and the action stops. After the freeze frame, a title appears reading "2 days earlier, Denver Colorado Friday 10:02 pm." The film then unrolls in straight chronological order, with a series of written titles establishing the place and time of the action, which ends in California at 10:04 a.m. Sunday, when Kowalski's car explodes into flames.
       Kowalski's back story is told in a series of flashbacks that are interspersed into the action of Kowalski's journey in the present. For example, after Kowalski runs the highway patrol motorcycle off the road in the present, there is a cut to a scene taking place in the past in which Kowalski is racing his motorcycle on a track when he suffers a spill. Similarly, Kowalski's career as a professional car racer is depicted by a shot of Kowalski sending a police car spinning off the road in the present followed by a cut to the past in which Kowalski crashes and overturns his race car on a track.
       Although a July 1970 Hollywood Reporter production chart places James Griffith, Nancie Phillips and Norman Alden in the cast, their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A modern source adds David Gates to the cast. Various Hollywood Reporter production charts noted that location shooting was done from Colorado to California. Cary Loftin, who served as one of the stunt coordinators on the film, staged the chase scenes in the 1968 film Bullitt. Vanishing Point marked the feature film debut of actor John Amos, who became well-known for his television work on shows such as the popular 1970s comedy Good Times and the 1999-2006 political drama The West Wing.
       According to a May 1979 Hollywood Reporter news item, Ian Quarrier, who is credited as "creative associate" in onscreen credits, sued Cupid Productions and Twentieth Century-Fox for half the box office receipts from the film, plus $10,000,000 in punitive damages and an unspecified sum for loss of salary over an eight-year period. Quarrier claimed that in March 1970, Michael Pearson, who at the time was his partner in Cupid Productions and served as executive producer on the film, and Norman Spencer, the film's producer, proposed to liquidate Cupid on the grounds that there were no offers to finance Vanishing Point and that the company had suffered financial losses from past projects.
       Spencer and Pearson convinced Quarrier to release his shares in Cupid to Pearson so that Pearson could raise money to have Vanishing Point produced. Quarrier stated that he agreed to their terms, but later came across proof that a distribution deal had been struck between Twentieth Century-Fox and Spencer and Pearson in 1969, three months before Quarrier had agreed to sell his shares. Quarrier charged that this agreement proved that Pearson and Spencer tried to defraud him in order to obtain his share in the production company. The outcome of the suit is unknown.
       According to an August 2004 Daily Variety news item, Scott Free Productions and 20th Century Fox were planning to remake Vanishing Point, to be directed by Samuel Bayer, produced by Tony Scott and written by Paul Bernbaum. As of June 2006, the project was still in development.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1971

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1971