Where was Vanishing Point filmed?
Cisco, Wendover, Utah, Denver, Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Colorado, Austin, Esmeralda County, Goldfield, Lander County, Nye County, Tonopah, Nevada, California
American, Retro, Rustic, Automotive, Bars, Buildings, Diners/ Coffee, Police, School
Americana, Classic Car, Cruiser, Dated/ 50s-60s-70s Building, Retro, Desert, Neglected, Helicopter, Motorcycle Style, Racing, Rustic, School
About Vanishing Point
Vanishing Point is an American action film released in 1971. It was directed by Richard Sarafian and follows the storyline of an ex-cop-turned racing driver who is high on drugs and is delivering a car across state lines while being chased by the police for overspeeding. While the film was never meant to be cult-style, the crowd treated it like a cult film post its release and still worship the philosophical ideologies that arose from it.
The story follows car delivery driver Kowalski (Barry Newman) arriving in Denver, Colorado, late Friday night and immediately leaving for San Francisco to deliver an (allegedly supercharged) white 1970 Dodge Challenger. Before leaving the city limits, he stops and picks up drugs from his dealer Jake (Lee Weaver), to ensure he stays awake for the drive. Kowalski makes a bet with Jake that he will deliver the car by 3 pm on Sunday and call him from there.
Throughout his drive, viewers see flashbacks of Kowalski's life where he is an ex-cop, a Vietnam War Veteran, and a former motorcycle and car racer. While driving out of Colorado State, his bad luck starts, and Kowalski gets chased by two motorcycle police officers for overspeeding. They raise the alert on his car number plate, and all the Highway Patrol Cruisers are now on the lookout for a white Dodge Challenger.
Meanwhile, a blind disc jockey in Goldfield, Nevada for KOW by the name of Super Soul (Cleavon Little) starts slowly turning Kowalski into 'the last true American hero' after hearing about him on the police scanners. Hearing the chase underway across state lines, Kowalski gathers plenty of support from locals who start rooting for him to evade the ordinary police and become independent. Kowalski listens to all this on the radio while constantly being chased by the cops.
What follows is a thrilling speed chase through plenty of small towns, highways, remote areas, and locations, a near-fatal accident and a deadly one.
Vanishing Point Locations
Vanishing Point was filmed over four main states – Utah, Colorado, Nevada, and one or two scenes in California. Most of the movie is filmed on interstate highways connecting major junctions, with the production team ensuring everything went according to plan. While there were some delays during filming due to financial reasons, the movie was released in the correct time frame.
Financial issues forced the filming to be completed 22 days prior to the projected date. The main characters and the 19-member crew filmed all the scenes in record time, caught as much sunlight as possible for the driving scenes, and ensured they found a motel for the night before scouting and filming in the next location. The geographical backdrop of the desert, endless roads, sparse greenery, and extreme speeds turned Vanishing Point into a cult movie with very little fanfare. The landmarks are aplenty for fans wanting to visit these locations and view them in person.
The cars used in the film are driven by professionals, and all the action scenes are carefully coordinated by stunt directors. However, there are no funny scenes in Vanishing Point, making the film an overall grim yet fast-paced watch.
Teaser: The scene where Kowalksi drives into town is filmed at Railroad Avenue, at Rifle in Colorado. Fans might also be curious to know that Angel's (Timothy Scott's) house is near Goblin Valley State Park in Utah.
Vanishing Point was based on two real-life instances of a disgraced San Diego police officer and of a man who refused to stop for overspeeding and eventually died crashing into a police roadblock.
The roadblock scene in Vanishing Point
Old Cisco Highway, Cisco, Utah, United States
This Vanishing Point film scene starts with a roadblock, several policemen, JCB Earthmovers, and a helicopter getting ready to trap a 1970 white Dodge Challenger racing down the road. So far, audiences are unsure who is driving and what needs to be done to stop the car completely.
As the townsfolk watch on from within their establishments, they see the police setting up the barricade. The cops are talking to each other and moving systematically.
One of the policemen radios the helicopter, "Unit 2473 to helicopter." The pilot responds, "Helicopter. Over." The policeman asks, "Have you located the suspect?" The pilot affirms, "Suspect under surveillance." As the pilot replies, the helicopter follows a white-colored 1970 Dodge Challenger down a highway. The helicopter is chasing the car and herding it towards the roadblock set up by the police.
This highway is the Old Cisco Highway at Cisco in Utah. The route is still accessible, although none of the old landmarks are visible. Much of the surrounding shrubbery has also changed over the years. Old Cisco Highway is accessible by following US-70 East to UT-128 W in Thompson Springs. You must take Exit 204 from I-70 E to reach Old Cisco Highway.
Sandy tries to get Kowalski to stay for the weekend scene in Vanishing Point
2900 Inca Street, Denver, Colorado, United States
This scene is a flashback set 2 days prior to the opening scene of Vanishing Point. Kowalski (Barry Newman) drives into Argo's Car Delivery with a black Chrysler Imperial. Sandy McKees (Karl Swenson), the owner, greets him, saying, "Kowalski, and the keys to a sawed-off weekend. Well, you're both welcome." Kowalski asks, "What you got going for Frisco?" Sandy replies, "You're not going back tonight. Hey, you're gonna kill yourself someday, you know that? Do you know?" Kowalski agrees, "Yeah, yeah. I know." Sandy tries to make Kowalski feel better, "Look. Why don't you stay over till Monday, huh?"
Kowalski thinks Sandy is trying to leave early, but Sandy shoots him down with a sarcastic reply. Sandy tries to get Kowalski to stay over because he's worried Kowalski looks tired and burned out.
The surrounding area of this Vanishing Point filming location has changed quite a bit. The original site was torn down, and a building was constructed in its place. The car delivery was a rented area refurbished specifically for the movie at 2900 Inca Street, Denver, Colorado. To get to Argo's Car Delivery location, catch the E Line and hop off at Union Station. The walk to 2900 Inca St is approximately 10 – 13 minutes from the station at a medium pace.
Super Soul enters the town scene in Vanishing Point
Columbia Avenue & Ramsey Street, Goldfield, Nevada, United States
Fans of the movie will remember that Super Soul's (Cleavon Little's) entry is one of the best scenes in Vanishing Point. Super Soul is a blind disc jockey at KOW radio station who tends to listen to the police scanner and surfs the latest news to share with his audiences.
In this incredible scene, Super Soul strolls into town with black sunglasses (since he's blind) and is led by his German Shepherd dog. The townspeople are watching him walk into town while listening to the radio. The voice over the radio can be heard in the background, "There have been genetic studies on beef cattle. There has been a concern with the degree of heritability of economically important traits such as rate of growth, meat conversion, and carcass quality."
Super Soul is oblivious to all the staring and walks straight into the KOW building with his dog.
This scene is filmed at Columbia Avenue & Ramsey Street in Goldfield, Nevada. The original landmarks are still visible, although the road looks slightly different now because of the infrastructure development. To get to this junction, catch the US-95 S to 3rd Avenue, left at Main St, and right at the first crossroad to reach Ramsey Street. Keep going until you reach the Ramsey St and Columbia Avenue intersection.
Super Soul excitedly greets his listeners scene in Vanishing Point
Goldfield Hotel, 69-79 Columbia Avenue, Goldfield, Nevada, United States
Super Soul is at KOW radio station getting ready for his morning broadcast. His colleague tells him he has a few seconds to come on. As Super Soul prepares for his cue, a small jingle plays for 10 seconds before he excitedly greets all the listeners.
As the 'On The Air' sign lights up, Super Soul screams into the microphone, "Aaah! Good morning, folks! This is yours truly, Super, Super Soul! Direct and live with no net, early people! Without a net! Transmitting from KOW spelled K-O-W! Uh-huh, the noisiest, bounciest, fanciest radio station in the Far West! Now let's cheer up the morning with some wham-bam, zoom-boom, wake-up music with a little help from my friend! Now, take it away, amigo! Hey! Get it! Alright! Hubba, Hubba!"
Throughout Vanishing Point, Super Soul enthusiastically connects with his listeners and provides much-needed entertainment through jingles, music, and lengthy talks. Like Super Soul's entry shot, the location of Radio KOW is also on Columbia Avenue. The filming location of Vanishing Point is the Goldfield Hotel at 69-79 Columbia Avenue in Goldfield, Nevada. Getting to the Goldfield Hotel is quick if you follow US-95 and turn onto Main St and Columbia Avenue.
The Jaguar E Type gets in an accident scene in Vanishing Point
Muddy Creek, Utah, United States
Kowalski breaks several speeding limits in his haste to get to San Francisco to deliver the Dodge Challenger. For this reason, and because he is on drugs and broke many traffic laws, the police are chasing Kowalski across each town and highway he crosses.
While he gets a slight reprieve from the cops, he sees a Jaguar E Type come next to him on the highway. The driver challenges him, saying, "Greetings, sir! Let's race! Ya got any b*lls in that m*ther?" and races ahead, cackling away gleefully.
Kowalski steps up to the challenge, and as he tries to get ahead, the driver of the Jaguar touches Kowalski's car pushing him off-road. The driver keeps laughing hysterically and fakes sincerity by saying, "Whoops!" Kowalski loses his cool and races the driver to a single-lane bridge, finally ensuring the Jaguar driver goes off-road. However, the Jaguar driver gets into an accident, and his car rolls down into a stream. Kowalski stops, ensures the driver is alive, and drives off as he hears police sirens.
Out of all the Vanishing Point action scenes, this one was a bit serious since the Jaguar driver could have lost his life in the accident. The filming site of this scene is Muddy Creek in Utah. Fans can get to Muddy creek by following UT-24 E till they reach Muddy Creek.
Kowalski comes racing around the church scene in Vanishing Point
Virginia Hill & Lincoln Highway, Austin, Nevada
Considering the many Vanishing Point locations that Kowalski travels through while evading the police, the corner of Virginia Hill & Lincoln Highway is worth mentioning because this is the scene where the police finally get information on Kowalski. This is also the scene where the church is visible in the background before he turns onto Lincoln Highway on his way to San Francisco. Getting here is quick via US-50 E.
The police communicate through teletype machines with the highway departments of Utah, Colorado, and Nevada in contact with each other. Colorado Highway Police speak to Nevada Highway Police, saying, "Hello Nevada. Nevada, this is Colorado State Highway Patrol. This is about a special query raised by the Utah Highway Patrol. Apparently, the speed maniac you've been chasing all over your territory is a former professional road racer named Kowalski.
K-O-W-A-L-S-K-I. First name unknown. Other particulars also unknown. All we do know is that he's employed as a car delivery driver by an agency in Denver. He's presently driving a Dodge Challenger Colorado license plate O-A-5-5-9-9. This is not a stolen car. He's driving it to San Francisco for delivery due Monday." Nevada Patrol asks Colorado Patrol, "It's only Saturday. What's his hurry?"
Vanishing Point rose to become a cult movie that fans love even today. The film was a fabulous take on existentialism, with Kowalski appearing otherworldly and free from the temporary existence he is forced into while on Earth. Even in the movie's final scenes, he does everything with a smile.
Many fans felt the entire movie was a post-death flashback since Kowalski insists on reaching San Francisco by 3 pm on Sunday. Whatever the reasons for the dialogues and the scenes, the actors have played a great role while portraying the reckless speed maniac and the flashback scenes of the police, the races, and the war.
The Vanishing Point production team has done an incredible job of choosing excellent filming locations that cover the length and breadth of Utah, Nevada, and Colorado while maintaining the film's fast pace. The places, cars, extras, and backstories added much-needed relief to the endless road scenes and managed to build the main character up.