(1978, US, 111 min) Dir Jack Blackstaff. Cast Omar Sharif.
Northern Irish director Blackstaff elected to follow the Death Wish bandwagon jumping of Anvil Strikes! with Night Driving, seemingly designed by the producers to race the same year’s Convoy to theatres. Apparently uninterested in the plot of their film however, so long as it had trucks and CB lingo in it, they were presented with this supernatural number, surely the strangest entry in Omar Sharif’s CV and atypical of Blackstaff’s usual work. Sharif plays a cross-country trucker by the name of Joe Waylon and as the name might suggest the subject of his nationality and race are never mentioned – so far as the film’s concerned Sharif’s just another red-blooded American trucker and I’m not sure this is progressive or of Blackstaff couldn’t be bothered with a rewrite. Anyway – he’s pulling an all-nighter to get to the west coast through the Nevada hills when he’s cut off by another truck, all black and driving hell for leather with no lights on. In no time it’s vanished into the dark. Joe pulls in at the next stop and is greeted icily when he mentions this reckless driver. Perturbed, he carries on only to find that wherever he goes it seems he can see the black truck always up ahead and just out of reach. He races on, ever faster, trying to catch it. A deeply odd film that’s a strange blend of the existential road movie like of Two Lane Blacktop or Vanishing Point and the supernatural. Despite the potential for ridiculousness (and a generous frame of mind helps when watching) a committed performance from Sharif makes a little go a long way.