The Road Movie Book

By Steven Cohan; Ina Rae Hark | Go to book overview

4

ON THE RUN AND ON THE ROAD

Fame and the outlaw couple in American cinema

Corey K. Creekmur

Outlaws On the Lam (that perennial fave with filmgoers everywhere, closet criminals of every age and gender). . . . Cars, guns, blood, and explosions. Let the camera weave its charm.

(Wright: 100)

The freeway was my show, my arena. It's always been home to me . . . I was born and bred for it. I'm an American. I love the freeway.

(Johnson: 41)

In twentieth-century American popular culture, there are really only two reasons to go on the road: to become famous or to hide. Born too late for the pioneer projects of blazing trails, extending natural frontiers, or just lighting out for the territory, modern Americans hit a road not only already taken, but paved, ramped, mapped, and marked by the commercial sites of mobile mass culture: the motel, the roadside diner, the filling station, and the drive-in movie theater. For those traversing this ground for purposes other than leisurely sight-seeing, the road points towards a promising future or leads away from a dead-end past: the slightest redefinition of perspective shifts the purpose of a road trip from seeking a desired goal into flight from a desperate origin. In fact, despite the strong emphasis given to departures and arrivals, the road trip is largely defined by its extended middle; as Jack Kerouac's terse title affirms, being “on the road, ” rather than starting or stopping, defines the postwar American experience. As the narrator of Bayard Johnson's road novel Damned Right insists: “That's why they're called freeways. It's on stretches like that you can be free in America . . . After all, it's a free country” (9). No matter how many actual lanes a modern superhighway expands into laterally, the American road is always metaphorically a two-way street generating either exploration (the panoramic view ahead through the windshield) or escape (the furtive backward glance in the rear-view mirror),

-90-

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The Road Movie Book
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Plates ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Works Cited 14
  • Part I - Mapping Boundaries 15
  • 1 - “hitler Can't Keep 'Em That Long” 17
  • 2 - Western Meets Eastwood 45
  • 3 - Mad Love, Mobile Homes, and Dysfunctional Dicks 70
  • Notes 86
  • Works Cited 89
  • 4 - On the Run and on the Road 90
  • Works Cited 107
  • Part II - American Roads 111
  • 5 - Almost like Being at Home 113
  • 6 - Wanderlust and Wire Wheels 143
  • 7 - Exposing Intimacy in Russ Meyer's Motorpsycho! and Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! 165
  • 8 - The Road to Dystopia 179
  • Works Cited 202
  • 9 - Fear of Flying 204
  • Notes 227
  • Works Cited 228
  • Part III - Alternative Routes 231
  • 10 - The Nation, the Body, and the Autostrada 233
  • 11 - “we Don't Need to Know the Way Home” 249
  • 12 - Hom E and Away 271
  • 13 - Race on the Road 287
  • 14 - Revitalizing the Road Genre 307
  • 15 - My Own Private Idaho and the New Queer Road Movies 330
  • 16 - Disassociated Masculinities and Geographies of the Road 349
  • Index of Films 371
  • General Index 375
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