WHOLLY entrenched as an all-time classic, the original Gone in 60 Seconds set the cinematic world on its ear when released in 1974. Written, directed and produced by HB Halicki, who also stars, the film was the culmination of one man’s dream to make the best car-chase movie of all time.
Maindrian Pace (HB Halicki) is a cool cat and lead insurance investigator at Chase Research, a forensic agency inherited by his hornbag fiancée Pumpkin (Marion Busia) and her clueless brothers Eugene (Jerry Daugirda) and Stanley (James McIntyre). With trusted sidekick Attlee Jackson (George Cole), Pace supplements the daily business with a chop shop, rebirthing cars and using their insurance contacts to stay one step ahead of the fuzz. When a cashed-up drug lord offers Pace $400K to steal 48 vehicles in seven days, tensions build between Pace and Eugene as the enormity of the challenge unfolds.
And it’s no ordinary list. The booty includes everything from Parnelli Jones’s Baja Bronco and a Super Stock ’Cuda, to a Freightliner prime mover and Stutz Blackhawk. Each vehicle is tagged with a female name in order to keep the plan under wraps, but a number of false starts in the bid to bag the elusive ‘Eleanor’, a yellow 1973 Mustang, leads to a last-ditch attempt to seal the deal. A cranky Eugene flips on the Chase crew, tipping the police off to the Mustang theft and leaving Pace and Eleanor to battle the police in an action-packed chase through LA County, all the while trying to meet the deadline.
Sure, the acting, dubbing and dialogue are all a little hazy by modern standards, but Gone in 60 Seconds is still a great watch from start to finish. When the car action slows, there’s still plenty to enjoy as a slice-of-life doco of 1970s USA: huge hair, gaudy outfits, cool disguises and some of the best background car-spotting you’re ever likely to see – there’s classic and muscle cars aplenty and even the odd truck, hot rod and custom van thrown into the mix. It’s great viewing and you’ll find it hard not to smile.
WITH many movies of this era, it’s the cars and characters that make it memorable, and Gone in 60 Seconds is no exception. Whether it be the sunglasses-loaded Cadillac Brougham of the opening scenes wallowing along at 100mph, or Billy and his stoner mates jive-talking in the lowrider, you’ll come away from this flick happy to watch it time and again. The grand finale car chase is famous for its 40-minute duration and record-breaking destruction of 93 cars.
- 1973 Ford Mustang
- 1973 Dodge Challenger
- 1965 Plymouth Belvedere
- 1973 Ford F350
- 1965 Cadillac
- 1974 Manta Mirage
COOL FLICK FACT:
The 1973 Ford Mustang, ‘Eleanor’, is believed to be the only car to have been directly credited with a role in a film.