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Thelma and Louise (1991, Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis)

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When Callie Khouri wrote a script about two women forced to go on the run in America, she knew exactly who she wanted to direct it: Callie Khouri, or failing that, a woman director like Penny Marshall. One person she never envisaged helming her feminist road movie was Ridley Scott, the director of Alien and Blade Runner.

‘I was disturbed at first,’ Khouri admits, ‘not just because it was a man, but also because it was Ridley Scott. It was so unlike anything he’d done before.’ That, of course, was the attraction for the British producer/ director, who also believed that his chromosome count was no barrier to calling the shots. ‘In a funny kind of way,’ he reasoned, ‘because the focus is on two women looking at men, then the logic is that a man should direct, because if a woman directs it she might go into overkill and get into some kind of a vendetta. I think it’s a film that you should come out of and recognise a little bit of yourself somewhere, and maybe agree with it. And a man can give that perspective.’

There were certainly no arguments from the writer when she saw the finished product, which is one of Scott’s finest achievements. While managing to give the film an epic feel (highly impressive considering the film used over 50 Stateside locations but only had a budget of $17million), he also manages to capture the subtle nuances in the relationship between the two women – an accomplishment for a man noted primarily for his visual flare and ability to convey action. He’s aided enormously, of course, by wonderful performances by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon as the eponymous heroines.

They take to the road in a ’66 Thunderbird when Louise (Sarandon) shoots the man trying to rape her friend Thelma (Davis) in a car park. Bored and frustrated by their lives – Thelma is married to a slob of a husband, Darryl (Christopher McDonald); Louise is a waitress tired of waiting for her boyfriend (Michael Madsen) to do the right thing and marry her – they decide to break for the border and head for Mexico. It’s not long before sympathetic police chief Hal Slocombe (Harvey Keitel) is on their trail.

production details
USA | 130 minutes | 1991

Director: Ridley Scott
Script: Callie Khouri

cast
Susan Sarandon as Louise Elizabeth Sawyer
Geena Davis as Thelma Yvonne Dickinson
Harvey Keitel as Investigator Hal Slocumb
Michael Madsen as Jimmy Lennox
Christopher McDonald as Darryl Dickinson
Brad Pitt as J.D.
Stephen Tobolowsky as Max
Timothy Carhart as Harlan Puckett
Lucinda Jenney as Lena, the Waitress
Jason Beghe as State Trooper
Sonny Carl Davis as Albert
Ken Swofford as Major
Shelly Desai as East Indian Motel Clerk
Carol Mansell as Waitress
Stephen Polk as Surveilance Man
Rob Roy Fitzgerald as Plainclothes Cop
Jack Lindine as I.D. Tech
Michael Delman as Silver Bullet Dancer
Kristel L. Rose as Girl Smoker
Noel L. Walcott III as Mountain Bike Rider
Marco St. John as Truck Driver (uncredited)
Gregory J. Barnett as State Police Officer (uncredited)
Robert ‘Bobby Z’ Zajonc as State Police Pilot (uncredited)
Charlie Sexton as Singer in Bar Band (uncredited)

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