Esquire was one of the defining American magazines of the 1960s. With Harold Hayes at the helm (from 1963–1973) and George Lois designing iconoclastic covers on a monthly basis, Esquire—at least until Rolling Stone appeared in 1967—covered the changes roiling post-JFK society better than any other mainstream publication of its time.
For the April, 1971 issue, Hayes and company got behind Monte Hellman’s film TWO-LANE BLACKTOP, publishing a cover story that included RudolphWurlitzer and Will Corry’s complete screenplay. With rock stars James Taylor and DennisWilson in the cast and songs by The Doors on the soundtrack, Universal thought it was getting Easy Rider part two. What it got instead was a deconstructed road film-as-discourse on American solitude whose cult has only grown in the 45 years since its release.
TWO-LANE BLACKTOP plays this weekend at the Wilder—on a bill with VANISHING POINT, directed by Richard C. Sarafian—as part of the UCLA Film and Television Archive series Opening Wednesday: TheShadowCinema of the 1970s.
TWO-LANE BLACKTOP and VANISHING POINT, Saturday, August 12, at 7:30.
BILLY WILDER THEATER, Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Boulevard, Westwood, Los Angeles.
Top right: Dennis Wilson (left) and James Taylor.
Bottom: Esquire, April 1971.