There’s something quintessentially American about hopping in the car and taking out for parts unknown, of indulging our wanderlust and our appetite for new sights and new people.
Hollywood has long recognized the attraction of the road movie. Several key examples of this peripatetic genre will be featured in the film series Road Trip! on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. and on Saturdays at 1:30 p.m. in August, 2012 in the Stanley H. Durwood Film Vault at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St.
Admission is free. The schedule:
It Happened One Night  (1934) on August 4
In this Frank Capra  Depression-era classic, a no-nonsense reporter (Clark Gable ) and a spoiled heiress (Claudette Colbert ) discover love while hitchhiking across America. It won Academy Awards for picture, director, screenplay, actor, and actress. Unrated. 105 minutes.
Harry and Tonto  (1974) on August 6
Art Carney  (of TV’s The Honeymooners ) won a best actor Oscar for his performance as a retired New Yorker evicted when his apartment building is torn down. With his cat Tonto he sets off on a cross-country odyssey. Paul Mazursky  directs; with Ellen Burstyn . Rated: R. 115 minutes.
Badlands  (1973) on August 11
Director Terrence Malick’s  first feature was a evocative black comedy inspired by the Starkweather-Fugate killing spree  of the 1950s. Martin Sheen  and Sissy Spacek  play teenage lovers on the run from the law. Rated: PG. 94 minutes.
The Straight Story  (1999) on August 13
This is David Lynch’s  most unusual film because it’s the most heartfelt. Richard Farnsworth  plays real-life Iowan Alvin Straight , who drove his riding lawn mower 300 miles to visit his ailing brother. Rating: R. 112 minutes.
Little Miss Sunshine  (2006) on August 18
A dysfunctional suburban family (Steve Carell , Toni Collette , Greg Kinnear ) pile into a rattletrap VW van to help tiny Olive (Abigail Breslin ) realize her dream of competing in a children’s beauty contest. It’s an astonishing feature debut by directors Jonathon Dayton  and Valerie Faris . Rating: R. 101 minutes.
Vacation  (1983) on August 20
This Harold Ramis -directed comedy follows the luckless Griswolds (Chevy Chase , Beverly D’Angelo ) on an incident-filled family vacation to the Walley World theme park. The film was so popular it launched a franchise featuring these characters. Rating: R. 98 minutes.
Thelma & Louise  (1991) on August 25
An Arkansas waitress (Susan Sarandon ) and a housewife (Geena Davis ) shoot a rapist and hit the road in a ’66 Thunderbird, hoping to outrun the cops and their own pasts. Ridley Scott’s  film has become a feminist touchstone. Rating: R. 130 minutes.
Broken Flowers  (2005) on August 27
Learning from a letter that he may have a son he knew nothing about, a confirmed bachelor (Bill Murray ) sets out to track down his old girlfriends. With Jessica Lange , Sharon Stone , and Tilda Swinton . Directed by Jim Jarmusch . Rating: R. 106 minutes.
Free parking is available at the Library District Parking Garage at 10th & Baltimore.
About the Author
Robert W. Butler  is a lifelong Kansas City area resident, a graduate of Shawnee Mission East High School and the William Allen White School of Journalism at the University of Kansas. For several decades he was the movie editor of the Kansas City Star; he now writes a movie-themed blog at butlerscinemascene.com . He joined the Library's Public Affairs team in 2012.