Pickup on 101


1h 33m 1972

Brief Synopsis

Nicky is hitchhiking through the Southwest when she meets an elderly homeless man, and the two of them are picked up by an unemployed musician named Les. While on the road, the three continually run into problems from the establishment and the stress results in the elderly man having a fatal heart a

Film Details

Also Known As
A Time to Every Purpose
MPAA Rating
Release Date
May 1972
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Christian Whittaker, Ltd.
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
United States
Location
Lompoc, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m

Synopsis

As other youths enjoy a music festival, free-spirited college student Nickie accompanies her boyfriend Chuck to a nearby motel, where they are spotted by Jedediah Bradley, an old hobo waiting for a southbound train. Although Bradley hopes to use the room for the night after the couple departs, his plan is foiled when Nickie and Chuck argue. Nickie wants to quit school and travel, then join a commune in Taos, New Mexico, but the startled Chuck demurs, declaring that ever since Nickie began taking the birth control pill, "the pill has swallowed the girl." After Chuck storms out, Bradley enters the room, not realizing that Nickie has been left behind. He is so surprised by her that he leaves his knapsack and must spend the night sleeping nearby. In the morning, Bradley humbly asks to use the room as Nickie is departing. Although they are both heading south, neither has transportation, and when Bradley spots Les Cavanaugh, a young singer who was at the festival, eyeing the attractive Nickie, he cajoles Les into buying him breakfast and offering both of them a ride. The threesome laugh and joke as they drive, with Les pontificating that success means nothing, and that all he wants is to be a wandering minstrel like Woody Guthrie. When Les's battered car breaks down in a small town, Bradley questions Nickie's reasons for joining a commune, but Les professes to understand her need not to be "a follower," and instead do what feels right. While Bradley attempts to find a train, Nickie mentions her warm feelings for the old man, but Les scoffs that he is a worthless bum. When the mechanic informs Les that the repairs will cost seventy dollars, Les protests that he does not have enough and accepts what little money Nickie has. Les then questions Nickie about her values and goals, and the diamond ring given to her by Chuck. When Nickie replies that Chuck is a bore, Les crudely states that he hopes Chuck "got his money's worth," prompting the young woman to storm off. After the car is fixed, they continue driving, but as they are traveling along the coast, the car falters and bursts into flames, leaving them barely enough time to rescue their possessions. They walk to a gas station in the nearest town, where Les goads Bradley by snarling that he is an old, "dumb, stinking hobo," while he is young, smart and free. When Bradley hits Les, a policeman arrests them for vagrancy but does not spot Nickie, who is hiding in the restroom. While Nickie hitches a ride from farmer Jesse and his wife, Les and Bradley are booked by the desk sergeant, who ignores Les's pleas that he must be in Los Angeles by Friday morning. Les explains that a music executive is waiting to record his demo, and that the opportunity could ignite his career. Les also reveals that his real surname is Baumgartner, prompting Bradley to chastise him for his earlier hypocritical assertions that he does not care about appearances or fame. Les gives the sergeant fifty dollars to cover the cost of calling Los Angeles to substantiate his story, and Bradley is outraged that he would let them get arrested as drifters to impress Nickie rather than use the money to gain their freedom. While Nickie dines with Jesse, whose wife is out, Les's story is verified and he is released. Jesse propositions Nickie, offering her fifteen dollars for "a quickie," which the hesitant girl is considering when she sees Les and runs to him. Meanwhile, Bradley dips into his own secreted savings and obtains his freedom, then joins the young couple. Although they agree to separate in the morning, as it will be difficult for them to hitchhike as a group, they decide to spend the night together for safety. By the campfire, Nickie confesses to Bradley that she almost accepted Jesse's offer but maintains that she will not return home or to school. She then joins Les, who is sitting apart, and the couple makes love. In the morning, Bradley dreams about running after and missing a train, then awakens. He and a devastated Nickie then discover that Les has abandoned them. Bradley tells Nickie that she must not fight her natural longings for companionship and stability, and reveals that he is traveling to a farm that he once owned near Lompoc, in Southern California. Bradley, who grew up there, hopes to be buried on a hillside overlooking a valley of flowers. While they hitchhike to reach the highway, Les, who has already reached it, gets a ride from a family with two young children. Later that afternoon, Nickie and Bradley find Les at the scene of a horrible accident in which the family with whom he was riding was killed just after dropping him off. Bradley and Nickie leave with the distraught Les, and Bradley allows them to rest while he looks for a truck stop for Nickie, who has agreed to accept a ride home if Bradley can find one. Les apologizes for deserting her and, in order to provide her with traveling money, does odd jobs for the owner of a nearby antique store. Upon his return, Bradley gives Nickie a bus ticket that he has purchased for her with the last of his "pine box money," and Les attempts to collect his wages. The stingy man offers less than they had agreed upon, however, and when Bradley intervenes, the man knocks him down and Bradley collapses. Worried that the old man will die on his property, the store owner lends Nickie and Les his truck to transport Bradley to the nearest doctor, although the weakened hobo begs them to take him to his old farm. While Les and Nickie argue, with Les wanting to return to reclaim his guitar, which the store owner is holding as collateral, Bradley slips away and attempts to catch a passing train. As in his dream, however, the train eludes him and Bradley collapses again. Les and Nickie reach the old man's side just as he dies, and the repentant Les helps Nickie load Bradley's body into the pickup. Driving through the night, they reach the farm, although the current owner debunks the idea that former owners have the right to be buried there. After seeing Bradley's idyllic spot, however, Les and Nickie are determined to comply with his wishes, but when they return that night to bury him, the farmer sends them away. In desperation, Nickie pawns her diamond ring and Les has Bradley cremated. With the farmer's tacit approval, the young couple then scatters Bradley's ashes on the hillside, and as the wind floats the ashes over the lush flowers, Les and Nickie walk off hand-in-hand.

Film Details

Also Known As
A Time to Every Purpose
MPAA Rating
Release Date
May 1972
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Christian Whittaker, Ltd.
Distribution Company
American International Pictures
Country
United States
Location
Lompoc, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was A Time to Every Purpose. Although the onscreen credits contain a partially legible copyright statement, the film was not registered for copyright until July 18, 1978, when Christian Whittaker, Ltd. copyrighted it under the number PA-13-676. According to March-May 1971 news items, the film's production company, originally called C.W. Productions, was formed by Chris Whittaker and Ed Garner. The news items noted that Pickup on 101 was to be their first venture, but the onscreen credits and other post-production contemporary sources list the production company as Christian Whittaker, Ltd.
       March 1971 news items stated that Peter Allan Fields wrote the screenplay based on a story by Anthony Blake, but only Blake is credited onscreen, in reviews and the SAR. The extent of Fields's contribution to the completed picture has not been determined. Modern sources include William Bryant in the cast. The picture was filmed in various locations in California, including the 101 highway along the coast and in Lompoc in Santa Barbara County.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1972

Released in United States 1972