Today we are going to travel in memory lane, but we’ll do so real, real fast.
The 70s was a great time for car chases in American movies.
Possibly the film with the most famous car chase ever, though, was made slightly before: in 1968. Bullit’s car chase scene in the streets of San Francisco became, and still is, the most iconic car chase ever.
Then the 70s arrived, an extraordinary time for American movies. The new films from the end of the 60s until the mid-70s were crazy, brave, bizarre, risky. If you have an interest in this period (and you should) please check our post Best “Making Of” Books: EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS, about a great book that will tell you everything about the period.
What is more iconic: a western shoot-out or a car chase? Who cares. We need both. These are my three personal favourite car chase scenes from the 70s.
Craziest Car Chase
Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
Forget about the remake that was made in 2000 with Nicholas Cage and Angelina Jolie. Go to the source, a crazy film made by a guy called Henry Blight Halicki. A very unique character, Halicki directed the movie, starred in it and did most of the stunts himself. He ended up badly injured. No wonder.
To prove the real risk involved in what this man did, enough is to say that he died in 1989, very young (he was only 48) in an accident while filming a sequel to Gone in 60 seconds.
There’s no 2 films like Gone in 60 Seconds. To begin with, when you watch the opening titles, you see this:
So you would think that Eleanor is the main actress of the movie, just known simply as Eleanor as some other artists are known only as Twiggy or The Rock. Well, you would be partly right. Eleanor is a car. The main car in the movie. In this film, all cars have female names, and Eleanor is the queen of the show. This makes Gone in 60 Seconds unique, as it’s the only case where the first name in the opening titles belongs not to an artist, but to a vehicle.
The plot of the movie? Some thieves have to steal lots of cars. But that is not the thing of it: the fame of this movie was caused by one single scene, with Halicki himself at the wheel of Eleanor, the yellow/black mustang. Yes, a chase. Almost 40 minutes long. It starts at minute 55 and goes until the end of the movie.
It’s simply unbelievable, there’s no CGI here: what you see is what really happened. And what happened is amazing.
Here below you have the whole chase in very good quality video. The whole 40 minutes.
Most Reckless Car Chase
The French Connection (1971)
A marvelous movie by all standards, independently of the superb chase scene. The first success of director William Friedkin, it won 5 Oscars. Right after this, Friedkin went on to make The Exorcist, the peak of his career.
Below, William Friedkin, the director, on the making of the car chase scene. They had not permission to do it like they did, they took so many risks. Nice to hear that Friedkin says now that it was a reckless thing to do.
Want to go into more details about the making of this scene? Click here.
Most Unique Car Chase
The hidden jewel in Steven Spielberg‘s crown, Duel does not have a car chase, is a car chase. One of the best films by Spielberg. A very unique work of art.
You didn’t have enough? Want more 70s Car Chase Scenes?
More about 70s Movies? Check SHOCK VALUE, the Essential Book about America’s 70s New Horror Films and Best “Making Of” Books: EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS, amongst other posts!
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