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Double Feature: THE DRIVER, 1978, 20th Century Fox, 90 min. Dir. Walter Hill. An extremely tough, pared-to-the-bone noir, vastly underrated on its initial release, THE DRIVER pits existential getaway driver Ryan O’Neal against pitbull detective Bruce Dern in a cat-and-mouse pursuit through the wasted underbelly of mid-’70s Los Angeles. Walter Hill’s homage to Jean-Pierre Melville and the Euro crime film offers spectacular car chases and, in her first Hollywood film, Isabelle Adjani.
HARD TIMES, 1975, Sony Repertory, 93 min. Walter Hill’s debut feature as director is this no-holds-barred tale of a bare-knuckle boxer (Charles Bronson) in Depression-era New Orleans and the fast-talking promoter (James Coburn) who parlays Bronson’s talents as a pugilist into quick money. “There’s the temptation, with material like this, to fashion parables and give the characters portentous speeches about the meaning of it all. But HARD TIMES never steps back from itself, never lectures us. Its theme is buried in its material, and it’s a hard-edged action film all the way.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times. Discussion between films with director Walter Hill.