Not Quite Parker: The Driver (1978)


Ryan O’Neal plays a professional getaway driver in this cross between the Parker novels and (the original) Gone in 60 Seconds.  Although The Driver’s career choice is somewhat different from Parker’s, the movie bears a striking resemblance to the Parker novels in tone and in thematic elements, and was almost certainly inspired by them.

The Detective (a terrific Bruce Dern) is obsessed with catching The Driver, who has never been captured.  He puts together an elaborate scheme, involving letting two thieves he has arrested free if they will talk The Driver into going in on a bank heist with them so that The Detective can catch him.  As in any Parker book, nothing goes as planned, and there are double-crosses galore.

The Driver contains many elements common in Parker novels.  The Driver himself is a consummate professional and a man of few words.  His words are always direct and he never small talks.  Like Parker often does, he walks out on a heist he believes to be a bad idea and walks back in later for his own reasons.  He has little tolerance for incompetence.  Parker only has one name; this guy doesn’t even have that.

The other characters are also very much people you might find in a Parker novel.  They range from morally ambiguous to completely amoral, and like many of Stark’s characters, they are frequently driven by obsessive desires.

The key difference is that The Driver stops at about the two-thirds point for a Parker novel.

This is amongst the closest we have seen to Parker on film, and is highly recommended.

(The Internet Movie Database reports that a 131 minute cut of this film exists, 40 (!) minutes longer than the official release.)

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