Thursday, June 18, 2015

Pit Stop (1969, Jack Hill)

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"Where can I get me a car?"

Coming June 23rd from Arrow Films, we have a film by one of my favorite directors of all time, Mr. Jack Hill. As much as this is an atypical Jack Hill film, it also fits in perfectly with his oeuvre. Though not as sleazy (I use this word with only positive connotations when speaking of this great director's work) as some of his later films, Pit Stop is still an exploitation film. This time around, the theme is car racing and though the story is fairly straight forward, there is still the unmistakably brilliant characterization that Hill brings to the screenplay.

Pit Stop (or The Winner, as it was originally called) tells the story of loner and aspiring car racer Rick Bowman (Dick Davalos), who is spotted by sponsor Grant Willard (Brian Donlevy) and begins racing in the deadly Figure 8 race. He becomes rivals with Willard's cocky champion Hawk Sidney (Sid Haig) and soon the lines of hero and villain start to blur.

Pit Stop is like a long lost racing film that ranks up there with the best of the 60s. Richard "Dick" Davalos, better known as Aron from East of Eden (or as the guy on the cover of The Smiths' Strangeways Here We Come, Best of Vol. 1 and Best of Vol. 2 albums) is perfectly cast as the rebellious Rick Bowman. He probably has the single coolest haircut ever committed to film. Jack Hill regular Sid Haig is also perfect as Hawk Sidney. Ellen Burstyn makes her film debut here as one of the racer's wives. She is also a mechanic and cheats on her husband with Rick. Lastly, the pixie-like Beverly Washburn (who was also in Jack Hill's Spider Baby with Haig) is impressive and a little mysterious (how old was she?) as Rick's girlfriend Jolene. The story takes a lot of unexpected turns and characters are not always what they seem, another strength of Hill's. In my eyes, this one is a classic. Arrow's new Pit Stop Blu Ray/DVD combo is another Winner (no pun intended) from this UK company that recently came overseas to spread joy among sleazy little girls and boys. With a beautiful transfer supervised by Jack Hill himself and a bunch of bonus features (including a booklet! Yay!), this one should not be missed! Below is a list of bonus features included here:

-New High Definition digital transfer supervised and approved by director Jack Hill
-High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
-Original Mono 1.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
-New exclusive audio commentary with director Jack Hill moderated by his biographer Calum Waddell
-Crash and Burn! - Jack Hill on the making of Pit Stop
-Drive Hard - Actor Sid Haig speaks about his experience of acting in Pit Stop
-Life in the Fast Lane - producer Roger Corman on the genesis of Pit Stop
-Restoring Pit Stop - Restoration demonstration with Technical Supervisor James White
-Original Trailer
-Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw
-Collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Glenn Kenny and musicologist and writer Gray Newell on the film's soundtrack, illustrated with original stills and artwork


FILM: 10/10
BLU RAY/DVD: 10/10

Purchase Pit Stop directly from MVD HERE

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