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Seeing Clearly in the Dark: A Profile of Monte Hellman in Present Day Los Angeles

Monte Hellman and Kona. Photo courtesy of Monte Hellman.Two years back, Monte Hellman invited me up to his house to sip vodka tonics in the dark and watch the new restoration of Ride in the Whirlwind (1966), one of a pair of earnest Westerns he made in collaboration with his longtime friend Jack Nicholson. He didn’t know it at the time, but that day was my birthday—and there was no other way I would have preferred to spend it.On a Saturday morning this July, I went up yet again to the Hollywood Hills to pay another visit to Hellman. Best known as the director of Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), a reaction to Easy Rider (1969) and the mother of all existential road movies, Hellman now lives a rather quiet life in a sweet, sequestered hillside bungalow; maybe he’s always preferred solitude and solemnity, but most of the time he

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