Car Movie Enthusiast Reviews

Ranking

Title and Review
Gator: 1976.

In the same vein as "White Lightning", but not very good and without the BOSS 429-powered Galaxy - too bad! By this point in time, this type of "Southern" genre movie is almost a parody. That's why White Lightning is so much better.

But it does have Lauren Hutton as Burt's girlfriend and (of course) Jerry Reed.

Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow, The. 1959.

The usual teen high jinks involving a dragstrip, fast cars, and a couple of ghosts. Not worthwhile - even if you are into the 50's genre.

Goodbye Pork Pie. 1981.

A road film about two buddies who drive across New Zealand, chased by the cops and encountering all sorts of situations.

  Goldfinger. 1964.

Featuring one of the most prolific movie cars ever, the 1964 Aston Martin DB5. And special effects that were mechanical - not CGI.  Same for Sean Connery - the real thing and like the Aston Martin DB5, by most measures the "real thing". Oddjob (played by Harold Sakata), henchman to villain Auric Goldfinger and played by a 284 pound professional wrestler from Hawaii and later knew Arnold Schwarzenegger, had a steel bowler hat. It was made by a panel beater at the Aston Martin factory in Newport Pagnell. The film company visited the factory to look for a new car for Bond and on a whim asked a worker, Arthur Maycock, to make the hat.

This 1937 Rolls-Royce Phantom III was shown in 2012 at the "Bond in Motion" exhibit at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, Great Britain:

This is the 1964 Aston Martin DBS from Goldfinger, also on display in the exhibit:

The DBS was built for the early Bond series by Hollywood special effects artists John Stears. After MGM was finished with it, a Philadelphia broadcaster named Jerry Lee bought it from MGM for $12,000 USD. 41 years later in October 2010 it was sold again for $4.6M USD to Ohio collector Harry Yeaggy.

 

Gone in 60 Seconds: 1974.

A classic, although very poorly made. Probably the biggest and most damaging car chase ever filmed. Has recently been remade with Nicholas Cage - but the original is far superior. In 1989, H.B. Halicki was killed while filming a stunt in a never-released sequel to GI60S.

 

Gone in 60 Seconds (remake). 2000.

A Bruckheimer film. My rating: just like the reviews said, you'll loose at least 10 points off your IQ watching this one. It is definitely *not* a car film; the 3 Oscar winners/nominees "starring" in it are absolutely terrible (and wasted) in it. The customized Shelby is ugly - and they wasted 14 classic Mustangs shooting this film (you don't even get to see the great majority of the cars the gang is assigned to steal). This is the kind of sugar-coated action film Nicholas Cage wastes himself on to make a lot of quick bucks at our expense. He can do a lot better. Entertainment Weekly rated it the 5th worst film of 2000!

Guest Comments: "I rented Gone in 60 Seconds last night. As you had previously reported, it was terrible. The only redeeming quality of this flick were the all too brief shots of some nice cars. The plot was unbelievable and poorly developed. Examples? Porsche 996 taken from a dealer's showroom, crashed through a plate glass window and over a large curb arriving at the rendezvous without a scratch. I will ignore the facts that cars in showrooms are usually disabled by removing the battery cable and that the keys to this car were conveniently located within sight (and picked effortlessly out of a big cabinet of other identical keys). At least they did *finally* find a good use for a Hummer - plowing a police cruiser out the way so they could blast out of a parking garage. Interesting to note that the Hummer arrived unscathed at the transport without damage although it managed to emit large sparks while repeatedly scraping the concrete walls of the parking garage. Quite a waste of some fairly credible actors. It seemed to me like Robert Duval was playing the same basic character he portrayed in Days of Thunder. The final chase scene ('67 GT 350) was good but also unbelievable (ala Joey Chitwood). My summary: not enough good car stuff to make an otherwise cheesy movie worthwhile. 2 thumbs down."

Grand Prix. 1966. My #2 "best car film of all time"

Another fabulous film, with incredible race photography.  The final race scenes on the high banking of Monza (the original high-banked track doesn't exist anymore) were shot from the door of a helicopter at 180 MPH. This film literally could not be made in today's world (as John Frankenheimer points in in the Making Of special). It is unique, and always will be.

Many of the characters are directly patterned from real-life racers, crews, and owners. Some are played by actual racers.

 Look closely and you'll also see many of the original drivers and team owners in several scenes.

I very reluctantly rate the film in second place because of the romance and melodrama that are not related to the racing. Eve Saint Marie's character is a device placed in the film for the benefit of the audience - she is there simply to help viewers understand the sport. As a character in the film, she detracts from it. The appeal of  her over-emotional character to that of Yves Montand is simply that she is not his wife, and is interested in more than the sport which he has built his life around - and cannot escape.  

This film is also an interesting contrast to modern F1 racing - if you can even call it racing. Grand Prix depicts a different age of racing - the technology was crude and failed in major ways. The drivers literally risked their lives. The safety equipment was abysmal and did little to protect the drivers. Many of the tracks no longer exist in their original form - and couldn't in today's environment. And the racing was real - anybody could win, nothing was pre-ordained, and the competitive contrast to a modern F1 "race" is like night and day. Grand Prix depicts the real thing.

An entire discussion could be had of where this film would be ranked in the filmography of John Frankenheimer. I'd rate this as one of the highest, and certainly as the most challenging he ever made. The Train, Seven Days in May, Seconds, The Manchurian Candidate (perhaps his best?), and Birdman of Alcatraz are also all high on the list.

The best news is that the film as of July 11, 2006 is finally out on DVD with a new digital transfer and a remastered soundtrack. Better yet, it includes 4 new of documentaries and a featurette about Grand Prix racing as it was in the sixties. This disc is a must-have for any and all automotive enthusiasts. The documentaries are fascinating, in fact if your local sports car buddies have seen the film they'll probably want to watch the documentaries again and again.

 Along with this new DVD, I have two other works:

  • A Speed Channel (Speedvision) special "The Making of Grand Prix". I consider it a must-have. This is not the same material as ont he new DVD,
  • A documentary on the making of Grand Prix. Most of the material - and a lot more - is on the new DVD, but this is worth having anyway.

What's needed next, now that the Frankenheimer estate has opened the vaults, is a book about the making of the film - similar to "A French Kiss with Death:" The Making of LeMans".

Grand Theft Auto: 1977.

Ron Howard gets chased by the cops in his Camaro. No doubt inspired by the previous year's "Eat My Dust" with the added bonus of being Ron Howard's directorial debut. Fortunately he has done a lot better since.

Great Race, The. 1965.

A lengthy madcap comedy with Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, and Natalie Wood (and many other character players). Concerns a turn of the century (1900!) around the world race. Professor Fate (Lemmon) is determined to win it at whatever the cost. Maybe a few good scenes with Jack Lemmon.

Green Helmet, The.

1961. Bill Travers, Ed Begley. MGM. And Jack Brabham himself is a guest star! Based on a book of the same name.

This is a terrific racing film. The central theme is the development of new tires for a Jaguar racing car, then their application on race tracks. The film opens at LeMans, and with the famous running start. The secondary theme is the death of several racers and the lives of the people surrounding them

.

Actual historic footage is used. It's fascinating - and it's scary. You'll like this film for it's historical historical footage of LeMans, Silverstone, Sebring, and especially the Mille Miglia. The original Mille Miglia was one of the all-time greatest racing events on the planet, in our humble opinion. Although this film does show why it had to be cancelled in it's original form.

 

This is a very obscure film and is not listed in many film databases. It's very rarely shown, although we did catch it recently on TCM.

There are a couple of minor mistakes in the film: one is this crash of the Spaniard in his Corvette. Note how it changes into something else entirely in the midst of the crash and roll. But, all in all, a good film and a worthwhile addition to your collection - if you can find it.

  Grindhouse. 2007.

Tarantino and Rodriquez created this double feature. The term "Grindhouse" refers to movie theatres who used to show a number of quickie B-films, usually horror, teen delinquency, or other mildly titillating topics. Along with a number of upcoming trailers - some of which were created just for this duo (the fake "Machete" was the only one worthwhile, and after seeing it we wish it was for real).

Planet Terror is a zombie film, with an evil military experiment gone very wrong -where the entire planet save for a handful of survivors turns into zombies. Predictable and bloody - but then that was the point.

Death Proof is the car film here. Kurt Russell is the maniac behind the wheel, who after killing a couple of 20-soemthing women with worthless lives finds more challenging prey in a couple of movie workers, including an actual New Zealander stunt driver portraying herself. The cars are an early 70s Nova, wrecked in the first half, and a classic Charger and white '71 Challenger (purposely recreating the Kowalski car in the original Vanishing Point). Not to give the ending away, but it is appropriate. Note that the victim at the end squeals like a stuck pig.

The entire set is over 3 hours long, and probably could have been edited down by a half-hour. Death Proof takes forever to get started, and we really don't care about his first set of victims.

1st Tier! Gumball Rally, The. 1976.

The true story of the Cannonball, made without Brock (but sued by Brock later). Very much worth having!

It's definitely a B-film, but it's also really a great car film because it's the true story of the infamous Cannonball Run events (Brock Yates and his terrible scripts are purely and horribly fictional - this one is for real)! Only the names have been changed.

Raul Julia has a lead role - and you've probably never seen him like this! All the classic scenes and stereotypes are there: the British car that looks fine (but won't even start), the Italian driver that throws all caution out the window - but has a fatal flaw, the typical Corvette driver, and of course classic Ferraris and Cobras.

All the classic scenes and stereotypes are there: the British car that looks superb (but won't even start), the Italian driver (with one, er two, things on his mind), the typical Corvette driver (and the resultant wreck from the typical Corvette quality). The race starts in New York City (which used to be the home of Car & Driver magazine). The first leg is through the city in the early morning - it's so realistic you can feel it as the horsepower reverberates off of the towers. And, as you would expect, the Ferraris and Cobras are fastest and immediately take the lead. 

Be sure to take note of the unusual "distraction" at the end of the race! I don't know if it actually happened like this, but rumor says so!

  • Starring: Michael Sarrazin, Raul Julia, Gary Busey
  • Label: Warner Brothers 
  • Year: 1976
  • Color
  • Format: VHS - NTSC
  • Available: yes