Moments in Movies
OR, if you don’t like alliteration, the Startline Arts
Correspondent Steven Griffin points us to some good car bits in films.
A friend of mine has just bought the
Ford Mustang from the film ‘Gone in Sixty Seconds’.
Quite how it must drive compared to his normal transport of Aston
Martin I cannot imagine but my friend likes unusual cars-he also
has a Mercedes 600 as used by all self-respecting third world dictators.
The purchase made me think about some of the great cars and motoring
images that I have loved in films. I am tempted to use the ‘I’word
but I firmly believe that the ‘I’ word should be reserved
for religious pictures from Byzantium where images of prominent
early Christians are painted in gold leaf often with what look like
solar rays emanating from behind their heads. So no Icons here then.
I’m not going to give you the links for this article. I suggest
that if the mood takes you just hit You Tube and dig. So often the
versions of film scenes are added to adverts or just badly recorded.
They are all there, some long, some short, some in HD and some fuzzy.
(Also, if we have links the films often get removed for copyright
reasons, and this way we don't get sued. And I'm too lazy to YouTube
the references. Asst ed)
|A little boy with his toy.......
||A Icon, yesterday
In the 1969 caper film The Italian Job the opening
sequence shows a fabulous Lamborghini Miura being driven up the
St Bernard Pass, Mat Monro sings jauntily in the background and
the world seems a perfect place. Sadly the car’s progress
is eventually halted by an untimely explosion in a tunnel. The destruction
of the car conveniently occurs outside camera range, a second, previously
damaged, Lambo is then despatched down the side of a ravine. The
technique of having something destroyed or killed out of sight of
the audience is not new. In Hamlet, Polonius is stabbed behind the
arras (curtain) so as to resolve the problem of getting a corpse
off the stage. The tunnel does the same job in the film. I have
never driven a Miura, I don’t suppose I ever will but with
its transverse V12 and those big eyes for headlights it has got
to be one of beautiful things to have come out of Italy since Mr
Botticelli painted Printemps.
Youtube- Italian Job opening sequence
Another Italian car from the same era is the Alfa
Romeo Duetto. It has a prominent part in Dustin Hoffman’s
film The Graduate. He drives one in its original boat tail form,
its derivation from the Disco Volante flying saucer concept car
is easy to see. I have owned and raced a few Alfas, the twin cam
four brought high tech enginesto the masses long before most other
manufacturers had worked out there was an alternative to push rods*.
The enraged and love sick hero drives his car to his trysts with
Mrs Robinson but the most memorable image is of him driving across
The Bay Bridge (not the Golden Gate as I had thought) from San Francisco
to meet with his true love, Mrs Robinson’s daughter. The music
that accompanies the scene is Simon and Garfunkel’s Scarborough
Fair. It is great stuff as the whole film has potent memories of
the fantasies of teenage boys who are now men of a certain age.
Mind you I live near Scarborough and I have never known it to have
Youtube-The Graduate Sounds of Silence/Scarborough
A film for anoraks like me is the Steve McQueen
1971 Le Mans epic. Not a lot of dialogue, not a great deal of story
either but a film with so much soul. Not a word is spoken for the
first 35 minutes but the film does contain a line that strikes a
“ When you’re racing, it... it’s
life. Anything that happens before or after... is just waiting.”
All of us racers know that feeling that is depicted in the part
of the film that goes with the 24 hour race start. The car door
is closed, the engine is running, the seat belts are tight, the
crew have gone. It’s just you, the car and the race. The race
starts and in my case everybody overtakes you. The film opens with
our hero driving his Porsche 911 across the countryside in the Sarthe.
Le Grand’s music augments a memorable few minutes of vicarious
motoring pleasure. The roads are empty, none of the French have
got up yet, just a few yawning gendarmes. It captures so accurately
the early mornings at Le Mans that I remember from the seventies
when I was a regular visitor. That particular Porsche 911, I think,
is one of the most valuable 911s in the world. The car recently
sold for over $1,000,000 with McQueen’s race suit from the
film going for slightly less. We have to accept that some folk are
just born cool and he was one of them.
Youtube-McQueen Le Mans opening sequence
A film that is anything but cool but
has some of the best anarchic motoring to ever been shown on celluloid
is the 1976 American film Gumball Rally. It is a story of an illicit
race across the United States involving lots of fast cars driven
wonderfully irresponsibly. Of course the law enforcement community
do their best to stop them. American muscle cars dominate, the E-Type
never starts and they destroy a Ferrari Daytona. Judging by the
photo of the instruments they didn’t exactly treat the car
with much sympathy. Notice how the car is doing 120 mph but the
oil and water are still cold-ouch. The Daytona they used was rebuilt
then crashed again by Kris Kristoffersen in one of the many remakes
of A Star is Born. This one with Barbra Streisand. I noticed that
it had been rebuilt again and was for sale in Motorsport just last
year. When you see the two film crashes, believe me you don’t
want to buy that Daytona.
Youtube-Gumball Rally 1976
I know that many of us Monoposti like
motorcycles as well as cars. The counter culture Easy Rider was
in many ways a pointless film about nothing in particular. A couple
of disaffected idiots who should know better, getting themselves
killed. A contemporary comment was ‘A man went looking for
America and couldn't find it anywhere.’ Those words pretty
much sum up the plot but the first five minutes are such fun. A
couple of cool-looking blokes on Harleys cruising across a wide
open space, crossing the Colorado River to the soundtrack of Steppenwolf’s
‘Born To Be Wild’:
" Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Lookin' for adventure
And whatever comes our way"
I recently rode a current Harley-Davidson from Fort Lauderdale
to Key Largo, it was a current model 1,800cc V Twin, it was a memorable
journey but even in its 2012 form a Harley makes Stephenson’s
Rocket seem cutting edge. How Captain America made it to the second
reel without his bike breaking down is a mystery.
||.......and a big boy with his toy.
On the subject of American counter
culture nothing beats the 1998 film Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Based on Hunter S Thompson’s book of the same name it stars
among other things a 1971 Chevrolet Impala convertible. Two tons
of the silliest car one could imagine. The vehicle used in the film
was the famous Red Shark owned by the author. Again two idiots who
should know better take too many drugs and enjoy their motoring
under the influence. The following line should really never be said:-
“We were somewhere around Barstow, on the edge of the desert,
when the drugs began to take hold. I remember saying something like:
I feel a bit lightheaded. Maybe you should drive.”
Youtube-Fear and loathing in Las Vegas
I have not expanded onto car chases or music videos
There are so many to choose from. I wanted to stimulate less frenetic
memories. Of course Gone in Sixty seconds is not the only appearance
of the hairy chest Mustang in films. James Bond drives one on two
wheels in Diamonds Are Forever and of course Steve McQueen takes
on a Dodge Charger around the streets of San Francisco in the film
Bullitt. The Dodge is a 440 Magnum (they just don’t give cars
names that good any more do they?) and the Ford a 390 GT. Bullitt
is possibly the best film car chase ever but there is stiff competition
for that award. The rush under the tracks of the Chicago metro in
The French Connection, the destruction of a shopping mall in The
Blues Brothers, the madness through the streets of southern France
in Ronin or the Transporter films are all great fun but they all
use ordinary cars. Cars one would use to go shopping in, they don’t
stir the soul like some of the vehicles above.
Mind you there are some great motoring images in music videos.
Check out any ZZ Top track for the 1930s Ford or Cosmic Girl by
Jamiroquai for the F40 and the 355.
I hope you have enjoyed the clips, I know there are
many more and we all have our favourites.
Disclaimer: The above represents only the unofficial view of
the writer and not of the Monoposto Racing Club in any way whatsover.
Subheadlines and captions are not originated from the named author.
If any pictures are copyright and the owner wishes them removed please