Monday, September 6, 2010

Gone in 60 Seconds: Not the one with Nic Cage

I didn't realize for quite awhile that the Gone in 60 Seconds movie released in 2000 was actually a remake. The original movie was made in 1974 and has the same basic premise as the later remake, although this one seems to have been much more a labor of love.

H.B. Halicki wrote, produced, directed, and starred in a movie about an insurance investigator who runs an auto shop. On the side, however, he buys totaled cars at auction, salvages whatever parts they can, and then steal all of the identification numbers off it. The next step is to go steal an identical car, and swap out all of the identification numbers and sell it. Much like the hitman who says "no women, no kids", this car thief only steals from people that are insured. It's a victimless crime! (Not really of course, but that's the impression the movie tries to give you.)

Our hero takes on a job from some foreign scary guys, to boost 40 cars in 48 hours, and deliver them to the docks, I assume for export. And that's pretty much it for the setup.

Really, this is a pretty terrible movie, all of the actors are either real people (there's a scene with a press conference with the mayor, that really is the mayor) or more commonly with Halicki's friends and family. There wasn't an actual script, just an outline with main plot and dialogue points. So much of the movie is ad libbed by people that just aren't very good actors.

There are quite frankly a lot of parts of this movie that are amazing. Every car in the movie was owned by Halicki, who had been buying them over a span of two years at public auction, paying on average $200 a piece. A lot of the bystanders in the film, were unwittingly part of the movie, just watching high speed car chases, and yelling at police officers that were ignoring the "wounded". At one point, Halicki is driving down the freeway at nearly 100 mph when he gets bumped by another driver and spins out into a lamp post. Apparently as soon as he regained consciousness his words were "did we get the footage?".

As I've said this is a pretty terrible movie, for about an hour, then the rest of the movie is one giant car chase, with mr. Halicki in a 1973 yellow Ford Mustang named Eleanor. Much like the French Connection's chase, this is a frenetic, balls to the wall, non-stop chase. 93 cars were wrecked for this final scene, Halicki had the accident with the lamppost, and then the chase finally culminates with a 128ft jump and compacted 4 vertebrae.

Bottom line, the last half hour of the film definitely makes this film most definitely worthwhile.

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