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Deadhead Miles

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"Deadhead Miles" (1972)

Cross Joseph Minion and Hunter S. Thompson and you will have some idea what to expect from this fantastic, rare, criminally under seen, barely released (never in theaters, never on video or DVD, only availible from a rare television broadcast) gonzo trucker film written by Terrence Malick (one of his early great anomalies); before writing and directing "Badlands" a year later. Shelved by the studio and never really released; for rumor has it, being too uncommerical. Alan Arkin (in an sublimely obscured mad genius performance), dressed like a sea captain, aimlessly sails the american highways in his 18 wheeler mumbling manic, southern accented non sequiturs (possibly imitating Malick himself); carnivalizing roadside stops and happenstance towns while out-weirding cops and weigh stations with his new cryptic, overcoated hitchhiker buddy (The Jefferson’s Paul Benedict). Malick seems to have that rarified talent for illuminating and surfacing, without pretension, that hard to reach, truthful undercurrent of illogic and neurosis that permeates inside the human something (usually funneled thru American southern idiosyncrasies; and not necessarily simply trivial or humorous but often darkly honest and more viscerally sublimely truthful about the feelings of this existence, at least for me, than any other kind of stab at something pure (Joseph Minion is the organic crown prince of this; team this film up with "Vampire's Kiss" (1989) or "Motorama" (1991) (more externally thematically similar because it’s also a “road movie”) and you'll see what I mean), which I think is often more evident in his earlier only scripted works (this film, “The Dion Brothers” (aka The Gravy Train) (1974), and “Pocket Money” (1972)) and still later in his self-directed works (most noticeable in “Badlands”), is often overshadowed by a reputation for dramatic cinematic poetics (but we true Malick fans know that he isn’t that simple). “Deadhead Miles” is a trucker’s term for driving a semi with no load in the trailer; hence Arkin’s character and not necessarily his truck. Hilarious and sublime; I loved it. Highly Recommended!

1972 / 84mins. / English Language / Color / USA

Picture Quality: C