The Curator of Schlock #381: The Driver

The Curator of Schlock #381 by Jeff Shuster

The Driver

Not to be confused with Drive

I had come home or so I thought. I was prepared to get my life back to normal after my misadventures across North America, ready to resume my role as curator of The Museum of Schlock, but everything had changed.

The interior of The Museum of Schlock had been ransacked! Graffiti speckled the walls, the displays were in tatters, and the head of the Charles Bronson statue had been decapitated. Atop that concrete head sat a man on his makeshift throne: mohawk, torn jeans, spiked collar. He glared at me like I was trespassing, like this was his property. — To be continued.

This week’s movie is 1978’s The Driver from director Walter Hill. If any of you have seen 2011’s Drive from director Nicolas Winding Refn, The Driver will seem familiar. Both feature a getaway driver who’s the best of the best at ferrying criminals from the hot pursuit of the police. But I don’t remember disliking the cast of characters in Drive as much of the ones in The Driver. Ryan O’Neal plays The Driver and admits in his taciturn way that nobody likes him.

All of the criminals in this movie are unpleasant and the cops aren’t much better. Bruce Darn plays The Detective that’s obsessed with catching The Driver. The movie opens with The Driver stealing a random car from a parking garage for a heist at a casino. Two robbers get into the car, but are late, allowing several bystanders to witness the getaway. What proceeds next is a tense chase scene on the mean streets of 1970s Los Angeles. There are about a dozen police cars hunting for The Driver like sharks in open water, but he manages to hide and outrun them.

There are enough witnesses that The Detective puts The Driver in a police lineup that consists of The Driver and no one else. The witnesses are unsure if he was the guy and the one witness that got a good look at him, The Player (Isabelle Adjani), says The Driver was not at the scene of the crime. Frustrated, The Detective loses his cool, goading The Driver into taking a swing at him so The Driver can get two years for assaulting a police officer, but The Driver doesn’t take the bait.

So it turns out The Player was paid off by The Driver to give false testimony. She’s a young and beautiful woman with a French accent who was once a mistress to a rich man before he bailed on her. The Detective harasses her in her apartment, alluding to her past life as a prostitute. The Detective’s obsession with capturing The Driver causes him to set up a sting operation that may be less than legal. He captures a convenience store robber named Glasses (Joseph Walsh) and makes a deal with him. Glasses needs to hire The Driver for a bank robbery and then deliver The Driver to the police.

Things don’t go as smoothly as planned as everyone in this movie is out for themselves, but I won’t spoil the rest of it for you. The Driver is worth a look, but good luck finding a copy. The Twilight Time Blu-ray goes for about $140 on Ebay.

I ain’t that rich.

Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477, episode 491, episode 492, episode 493, episode 495, and episode 496) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

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