The Essential Warren Oates

The Essential Warren Oates: THE HIRED HAND (1971)

Coming off the success of EASY RIDER, Universal gave Peter Fonda one million dollars to make any movie he wanted. What he came back with was a hypnotically slight meditation on freedom and responsibility, with the great Warren Oates as its beating heart. The film flopped, of course.

The Essential Warren Oates: TWO-LANE BLACKTOP (1971)

The Driver (James Taylor) and The Mechanic (Dennis Wilson) are the characters at the center of Monte Hellman’s classic road movie Two-Lane Blacktop, but the character who has always won my heart is Warren Oates’ GTO. Named for the canary yellow muscle car he drives, GTO wanders into the path of two professional street racers who drift their way from city to city, making their living tearing down back roads. They end up in a cross country race, headed east to Washington DC, with the pink slips of the cars in the balance. But that’s not what Two-Lane Blacktop is about.