filmicability with Dean Treadway: Film #24: Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Film #24: Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

If you're looking for the greatest car chase movie in history, I’ve got it. It’s not The Fast and the Furious, or Bullitt, or The French Connection, or The Italian Job or The Seven-Ups. And it’s not the crappy Nicholas Cage remake that bears this movie’s title. It’s H.B. Halicki’s 1974 drive-in masterpiece Gone in 60 Seconds.

The title refers to the time it takes for this movie’s thieving crew to get into and steal someone’s automobile. Their task here is to steal 48 cars of varying makes and deliver them to the South American buyer in a short amount of time. That’s nearly all you need to know about the plot. Character and dialogue run a distant second to action in Gone in 60 Seconds and that’s the way it should be. Somehow, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced remake screwed this up and gave away precious car chase time for a ridiculous, boring family-revenge plot involving Cage and his brother, played by Giovanni Ribisi. Why, I ask? Why?

The original Gone in 60 Seconds does contain some family strife plot elements, but it’s more concerned with seeing how Halicki—who plays lead stunt driver AND lead car thief Maindrian Pace—gets away with stealing the most coveted buggy of all: a 1973 orange Ford Mustang Mach I code-named “Eleanor.” This serves as the backbone for the film’s centerpiece: a nail-biting, 40-minute car holocaust that was often staged on the real highways of California with barely a notice given to police, onlookers, and uninvolved fellow drivers (there’s one smash-up involving Eleanor and a light pole that was really an accident—one so hairy that the production had to be shut down while Halicki healed up). In fact, now that I think about it, no movie ever has documented so many KINDS of car troubles--from fender-benders and chugging breakdowns to the sort of all-out destruction that eventually has Eleanor looking like a raisin on wheels. By the way, all 93 cars destroyed within these frames were ones that Halicki owned. (Regret to inform: Halicki died in 1989 while performing a stunt for this film’s never-finished sequel.)

Some who’ve never seen this movie before will be struck by one thing in particular. Remember those lame/cool fake wigs and mustaches the Beastie Boys used for their “Sabotage” video? Well, that look came from this film! Now you know this, and having recommended this movie to all whole-heartedly, I must caution those with ADD that GI60S's improvised first half is often hard for some to get through. It was clearly filmed largely without sound, resulting in some weird dialogue scenes where the participants are never seen, and one pointless time-padding segment has the one woman in the midst of all these macho thieves sitting around the office daydreaming while some terrible music plays in the background. (I hate that, for the DVD release, the Halickis opted to replace Philip Katchurian’s once-cool country song score with much blander tunes.) But if you can make it through the first half, Gone in 60 Seconds has some unparalled thrills in store for you.

Finally, and I stole this from the IMDB for fans of the movie, here’s a list of all the cars the guys have to steal in this film, and their corresponding feminine names. Enjoy, car nuts!
"The complete list of 48 cars stolen by Maindrian and his crew for the contract, with the celebrity/business owners, where applicable, is as follows (pieced together from the blackboard in Maindrian's office as well as dialogue throughout the film):
1. Donna: 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine
2. Karen: 1973 Stutz Blackhawk (The Upstairs Art Gallery)
3. Marilyn: 1970 De Tomaso Mangusta
4. Judy: 1962 Ferrari 340 America
5. Kathy: 1970 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow I
6. Nancy: 1971 Cadillac El Dorado
7. Terry: 1971 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow I (Willie Davis)
8. Dianne: 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine (Morgan Limousine Service)
9. Christy: 1971 Chevrolet Vega
10. Patti: 1971 Citroen SM
11. Marion: 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham Limousine (The Gamby Mortuary)
12. Janet: 1971 Ford "Big Oly" Bronco (Parnelli Jones)
13. Annie: 1969 Manta Mirage (Whittlesey Motors)
14. Maxine: 1969 De Tomaso Pantera
15. Claudia: 1970 Jaguar XK1500
16. Leona: 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood Station Wagon (Bruce Industries)
17. Ruth: 1974 Lincoln Continental Mark IV
18. Sandy: 1972 Maserati Ghibli Coupe
19. Laurie: 1973 Cadillac El Dorado
20. Patricia: 1974 Cadillac Coupe DeVille
21. Tracie: 1967 Lamborghini Miura (Tayco)
22. Kelly: 1971 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow I (J.C. Agajanian)
23. Rosie: 1959 Rolls Royce Phantom V
24. Dorothy: 1957 MercedesBenz 300SL
25. Eleanor: 1973 Ford Mustang Mach I (Hal McClain)
26. Martha: 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine (Morgan Limousine Service)
27. Beverly: 1930 Hudson Great Eight
28. Jean: 1971 Chevrolet Corvette C3
29. Betty: 1973 Jensen Interceptor
30. Joanne: 1972 MercedesBenz 200SE
31. Carey: 1966 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II
32. Mary: 1973 Cadillac Coupe DeVille
33. Dorie: 1973 Stutz Blackhawk (FlorenceWestern Medical Center)
34. Frances: 1971 White Freightliner (Transall Trucking Co.)
35. Maria: 1970 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow I
36. Sharon: 1972 Ferrari 365 GTB
37. Ruby: 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine (Morgan Limousine Service)
38. Michelle: 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
39. Susan: 1972 Plymouth Barracuda
40. Alice: 1953 Chrysler Coupe Elegance
41. Paula: 1949 Ferrari V12
42. Julie: 1973 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Limousine
43. Renee: 1966 Lotus Europa S1
44. Jackie: 1966 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud III
45. Eileen: 1924 Rolls Royce Silver Ghost
46. Elizabeth: 1927 Citroen B14 Conduite
47. Lorna: 1968 Intermeccanica Italia GFX (Lyle Waggoner)
48. Nicole: 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine (Morgan Limousine Service)"

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