Europa Cinema > 20:00


Walter Hill


Sunday 26/06/2022


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

I first saw Walter Hill’s second film, The Driver, as a teenager, late at night on the BBC, quite possibly sitting too close to the telly. Given that this 1978 slice of neo-noir takes place almost entirely in the dark streets of a deserted downtown LA, it’s really a perfect midnight movie. I discovered it through having enjoyed Walter’s later successes, 48 Hrs. and The Warriors, and because of a short Leonard Maltin review that stated it had “great car chases”. That was more than enough to convince me to stay up and watch it on a school night. But 91 minutes later I was totally spellbound by this diamond-tight, minimalist masterclass, which stars Ryan O’Neal as a getaway driver (known only as The Driver) and Bruce Dern as the cop (known as The Detective) out to get him. Its influence on video games is very clear and in movies its style has echoed throughout the work of Michael Mann, James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino, Nicolas Refn and now me with my Baby Driver.

Edgar Wright, in Edgar Wright and Walter Hill Discuss The Driver, “Empire”, 10 January 2022


In an interview for Patrick McGilligan in Backstory 4, Walter Hill talked about the “revelation” of reading Alex Jacob’s script for John Boorman’s 1967 classic Point Blank […] Hill admired Point Blank greatly, but on the page, Jacob’s work showed him a new way of writing: “Laconic, elliptical, suggestive rather than explicit, bold in the implied editorial style.” And from that example, Hill’s own writing – and later, directing – took on what he calls an almost “haiku-like” economy. At Hill’s best, his work as writer and director is as tight as a clenched fist, with not a word wasted in the dialogue and a simplicity of expression that extends from character development to the diamond-tight action sequences on which he built his reputation. […] Hill stripped down his style even further for his stellar follow-up, The Driver, an almost Zen-like genre exercise that combines his sensational action choreography with a minimalism worthy of Jean-Pierre Melville’s Le Samouraï. How minimalist? None of the characters have names. They’re only referred to by occupation… The real stars of the film, however, are the masterful chase scenes through the sprawl of Los Angeles, frequently shot at bumper-level to amplify the sense of speed and danger. Here was a director who was finding his own style by threading the needle between genre deconstructionists like Melville, Monte Hellman, and Sam Peckinpah, and the high-impact commercial films of John Frankenheimer or William Friedkin.

Scott Tobias, “AV Club”, 14 April 2011

Cast and Credits

Scen.: Walter Hill. F.: Philip Lathrop. M.: Tina Hirsch, Robert K. Lambert. Scgf.: Harry Horner, David Haber. Mus.: Michael Small. Int.: Ryan O’Neal (il guidatore), Bruce Dern (il detective), Isabelle Adjani (la giocatrice), Ronee Blakley (l’intermediaria), Matt Clark (primo poliziotto in borghese), Felice Orlandi (secondo poliziotto in borghese), Joseph Walsh (Occhiali), Rudy Ramos (Mascelle). Prod.: Lawrence Gordon per Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., EMI Films. DCP. D.: 91’. Col.