They say life is a journey, not a destination. Turn to page 68 of November’s The Simple Things for a look at how to make motoring from A to B more of an adventure. Here, we pick four classic British road movies
If lagging behind Hollywood, which teems with cinematic hymns to the American highways from Two-Lane Blacktop to Thelma and Louise, Britain has produced a few great movies that have put our B-roads on the big screen.
The Open Road (1926) dir: Claude Friese-Greene
Made by a pioneering cinematographer using, then highly experimental, film stock, this recently restored groundbreaking travelogue presents a colour from-a- moving-car portrait of Britain from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
Genevieve (1953) dir: Henry Cornelius
This gentle British comedy classic, starring Kenneth More and Dinah Sheridan and replete with an infectious theme tune by the harmonica-virtuoso Larry Adler, finds two couples locked in an increasingly unsporting race from London to Brighton on the veteran car rally in order to settle a ‘friendly’ bet.
Withnail and I (1987) dir: Bruce Robinson
Infused with a similar end-of-the 1960s melancholia as Hunter S Thompson’s drug buddy American road epic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Bruce Robinson’s much-loved and oft-quoted cult movie turns on the decision of two underemployed and over- imbibing actors to drive from the squalor of their Camden Town flat to a holiday cottage in the Cumbrian countryside in a clapped out Jaguar MK2.
Radio On (1979) dir: Chris Petit
Shot in a luminous black and white and featuring songs by Kraftwerk and Berlin-era David Bowie on its soundtrack, Chris Petit’s debut film is a meditative road movie that follows a London radio DJ as he journeys to Bristol in a temperamental old Rover. The journey takes us through a post-punk Britain poised between the aftermath of the Winter of Discontent and the arrival of Thatcherism, peopled by various waifs and strays – including Sting, who appears as an Eddie-Cochran-obsessed caravan-dwelling petrol pump attendant.