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6 Degrees Entertainment

'Pit Stop'
(Brian Donlevy, Ellen Burstyn, Sid Haig, Beverly Washburn, et al / Blu ray / NR / 2015 / MVD)

Overview: Grant Willard sponsors drivers in a "new" form of race car driving called The Figure Eight. The rise and fall of one such driver is the whole story behind PIT STOP.

Blu ray Verdict: Newly re-mastered in HD and from the original negative, this critically praised, authentic auto-racing flick was the second feature written and directed solely by the great Jack Hill (FOXY BROWN, THE BIG BIRD CAGE). It's a stunning combination of moody art house style and full throttle, steel-crunching action, as we follow the upward trajectory of ambitious driver Rick Bowman (Dick Dayalos) from drag racer to stock car champ via the insane, demolition-derby style world of "figure 8" racing.

Although apparently a "cheapie", 'The Winner' (which was it's original title) was obviously made by good, solid professionals. The story is simple but coherent, straightforward and always entertaining. The acting performances are convincing throughout; there is screen veteran Brian Donlevy, the most peculiar of all "naturals" and definitively one of my all time Hollywood favorites, playing the type of the greedy sports manager.

"Cheapie"-star Sid Haig plays a bad boy with appropriate cartoonish zeal, the same can be said of the performance of "the chick", played by Beverly Washburn. The main character, a young racing enthusiast, is presented like a junk yard gladiator: taciturn, brooding and determined - "existentialistic". It all fits. Ellen Burstyn's low-key performance as a racer's wife is extremely touching - her part again compares favorably with the Oscar winning one in 'Picture Show.'

The film does run a little long and some of the padding buggy-racing footage in the desert, albeit spectacular, could have easily been cut a little. Jack Hill was also responsible for his own great editing and Austin McKinney's black and white cinematography is terrific. Highly recommended in case you're looking for a REAL cinematic highlight, rather than to watch Vin Diesel's big shiny bald head in a hideous car or Tom Cruise pretending to know anything about NASCAR driving! This is a Full Screen Presentation (1.33:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:

* Interview with Producer Roger Corman
* Interview with Actor Sid Haig
* Watch with Drive-In Hostess For Trivia!