The U.S. thriller Vanishing Point embarks on a journey across the southwestern U.S. as a car delivery driver decides he must make his delivery in only one day, despite having three days to complete his job. Directed by Richard C. Sarafian the movie has become a cult classic despite performing poorly at the U.S. box office when released; the 99 minute U.S. version was extended to 107 minutes in the U.K. and Europe where the movie became a large commercial success. Vanishing Point's main characters, Kowolski and Super Soul have become cultural icons of the counter culture movement of the 1960s that was coming to an end when the movie was released in 1971.
Vanishing Point opens with Kowolski delivering a car to a dealer in Denver, Colorado; despite being urged to get some rest Kowolski quickly takes a new job delivering a car to San Francisco, California. In order to stay awake Kowolski, played by Barry Newman visits a biker bar to purchase narcotics; at the bar he makes a bet that he can be in San Francisco the following afternoon. Upon accepting the bet Kowolski begins a high speed race against time across four U.S. states, almost constantly followed by the police.
During his journey Kowolski stops to pick up hitchhikers to provide entertainment, conversation and keep him awake. At various times along the journey Kowolski is almost robbed and offered opportunities to take part in counter culture activities; he decides to turn down all the opportunities presented to him until he picks up a young female hitchhiker, played by Charlotte Rampling. The Female Hitchhiker does not appear in the original U.S. theatrical version of the movie altering the strange, other worldly tone of the movie. Kowolski is given advice on beating the police by a DJ who listens to police frequencies to stay ahead of what the police have planned for the driver.
The ambiguous ending of the movie and its overall meaning are often debated after viewing Vanishing Point. The significance of the movie is such that it is still referenced in movies, TV shows and in popular music.