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Monte Hellman, Two-Lane Blacktop director and Reservoir Dogs executive producer, dies at 91

Clark Collis
·2 min read
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Director Monte Hellman died Tuesday at the age of 91. The filmmaker's passing was confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter by his daughter Melissa Hellman. The director died at Eisenhower Health hospital in Palm Desert a week after he had fallen in his home.

Lionel FLUSIN/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images Monte Hellman made his directorial debut with the horror film 'Beast from Haunted Cave' (1959).

Hellman was best known for directing the 1971 cult classic Two-Lane Blacktop. One of the all-time great road movies, the film starred Warren Oates, singer-songwriter James Taylor, and Beach Boy drummer Dennis Wilson and was shot almost entirely on location.

"It was my one and only studio picture, so we had a much bigger production than I would normally work with," Hellman told Fader in 2011. "We had these huge grip trucks and electric trucks and all that stuff, and it was a caravan. We literally drove from Los Angeles to North Carolina, shooting along the way. Sometimes we would take a day to drive to the next location and then shoot a day or two on that location, or we would drive for three hours and stop and shoot for three hours. It was a very happy shoot, actually, you know when you have James Taylor and sometimes Joni Mitchell visiting him sitting around and singing songs all night. It was pretty great."

Hellman's other directing credits included the 1966 Westerns The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind — both of which starred Jack Nicholson — as well as 1974's Cockfighter and the 1989 Slasher movie Silent Night, Deadly Night 3. He was also an executive producer on Quentin Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs.

Baby Driver director Edgar Wright has paid tribute to Hellman on Twitter.

"RIP Monte Hellman," Wright wrote. "They don't make studio movies like 'Two-Lane Blacktop' anymore... or then..."

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