RIP Monte Hellman

It’s rare that I get the chance to write about movies, but I somehow wrote about the great, recently passed Monte Hellman twice over the years. Two Lane Blacktop I’ve seen close to a dozen times and it’s the only film that somehow makes less sense with every viewing.

First time was through the lens of the enigmatic Dennis Wilson, whom Hellman had this observation: “I don’t think I’ve ever worked with an actor who was so unself-conscious. He had no awareness of the fact that there was a camera. Or even that he was acting in a movie. He got so involved in what was going on, not as a character but just as an observer with these other people. He really related to everybody in a completely realistic way. It was the perfect definition of what acting should be. He believed everything that was happening.”

HOLY MAN: DENNIS WILSON REVIVED

Second was through the lens of his other leading man, Jack Nicholson, and his turn in two very strange westerns Hellman directed: “They were too quiet for westerns. There was not enough action in the scripts.”

JACK NICHOLSON, EXISTENTIALIST COWBOY