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A Jump Start

A Jump Start

(p.44) 3 A Jump Start
Bumpy Road
Sylvia Townsend
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter details the finding of a home for the film, and describes contracts signed and last-minute preparations. Universal Studios had set up a youth unit to attract younger audiences, and the unit’s executives, Ned Tanen and Daniel Selznick, gave the green light to Two-Lane Blacktop. Executives higher up had reservations about the filmmakers’ long hair and how they would be perceived in Southern states and were concerned about the filmmakers’ ability to shoot entirely on location while travelling across country. Universal’s attorneys were concerned about 17-year-old Laurie Bird playing nude scenes described in the script. Not only would Bird, Monte Hellman’s girlfriend, come along and play the heroine, but his wife would join the travelling set and serve as dialogue coach to the three untrained lead actors. They were hippies, but producer Michael Laughlin foresaw trouble (and he and the studio suits turned out to be right).

Keywords:   Two-Lane Blacktop, Monte Hellman, Universal Studios, Laurie Bird, Ned Tanen

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