In the later part of the 1970s, New West Magazine published an enthralling article entitled Thunder Road about groups of high-speed racers who pushed their luck and got their thrills by racing up and down Mulholland Drive and other steep roads in the Santa Monica Mountains. Before dedicated police efforts managed to put a stop to these sorts of thrill-seeking adventures, this kind of lifestyle was pretty common in the area, much to the dismay of the local residents. The article in question served as the inspiration for Noel Nosseck’s 1981 drama called King of the Mountain, the story of the reigning champion of these races and his struggles to choose what kind of life he wants to lead.

Co-written by Leigh Chapman and H.R. Christian and starring the likes of Harry Hamlin, Dennis Hopper and Deborah Van Valkenburgh, King of the Mountain did a great job at capturing the Los Angeles culture of the late seventies. Highly energetic and exciting, Nosseck’s film might not come to mind when discussing the best films about street racing, but it definitely deserves its place in the discussion. The fact that Dennis Hopper was often pretty drunk while shooting it only adds to the film’s everlasting charisma.