Richard C. Sarafian died on September 18, 2013, aged 83, following complications with pneumonia. A veteran of the Korean War, he was a reporter, then worked as assistant to director, Robert Altman, before starting on his own directing career.
I’ll remember him best for his 1971 movie Vanishing Point.
Kowalski [Barry Newman], is a Vietnam veteran and former cop. Driving a Dodge Challenger muscle car, he is pursued by police across the desert, as he races to get to his destination and win a bet. He encounters a naked biker [Gilda Texter] and gay hitch-hikers [Arthur Malet & Anthony James] along the way. Cleavon Little turns in a comical role as blind radio DJ, Super Soul.
This was the first road-chase-thriller movie I saw and it still stands as one of the best in the genre, with memorable chase sequences and location scenery.
It may seem dated now, but subsequent road thrillers like The Driver , The Hitcher , and Drive , owe a huge debt to Vanishing Point, a true original and cult classic.