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Five Star Car Stunts, Two Star Production Values
Gone in 60 Seconds (1973)
H.B.Halicki (everything)
Objectively speaking, this is not a very good film.

The "acting" is mostly non-extant, and the dialogue sounds as if the film was shot "wild" and later post-dubbed. The plot meanders in several directions it didn't need to go.

That said, fans of car-chases will get their money's worth with this one.

As has been pretty much beaten to death in other reviews, the basic story involves a steal-to-order car-theft ring operating under the ideal dual "fronts" of a junkyard (Halicki's own "Mercantile and Junk Emporium", i'm sure -- seen in much more detail in his second film, "The Junkman [q.v.]) and a firm of insurance-adjustors.

The opening half-hour or so is a sort of crash course in car theft methods, as the gang takes a comission to steal 48 specific cars by a certain deadline.

As we all know, as the deadline approaches, only "Eleanor" -- a yellow 1973 Ford Mustang Mach One -- remains unaccounted for.

And herein lies a joke that many, almost thirty years later, in a time when the Mach One is a "classic", may fail to get -- in 1974, yellow Mach Ones might not have been as common as VW Beetles, but they were probably more common than, oh, say, 1973 MGB-GTs... So here they are, having gotten all of the exotics -- including Lyle Waggoner's personal Ferrari, for instance -- and they can't find an example that meets their criteria-for-theft of a car that, at the time, was so common you could count on seeing one or two a day in almost any city of any size.

(There is a funny sequence with an ironic payoff when they THINK they've found the car they want, but have to put it back...)

And, of course, when they DO find "Eleanor", the chase, literally, is on. Forty-odd minutes and 93 smashed cars later, Halicki puts the battered but still gamely-rolling Eleanor through one of the single most spectacular car stunts i have ever seen on film -- the flex and twist in the body as it lands after The Jump, captured in slow-motion, bear witness to the stress on both the car and the driver, as the tires spin and smoke as he battles for control.

And, of course, the final gag in the car-wash is nicely ironic and funny.

If nothing else, this film is a tribute and testimony to the power and durability of Seventies Detroit Big Iron -- though i usually prefer the subtlety of a European sports car, sometimes the only way to go is with the sledge-hammer unsubtlety of Cubic Inches and bags and bags of torque and oversteer.

So much better than the Nick Cage in-name-only remake that there's no comparison.

Too bad about the DVD "remastered" soundtrack, though ((Someone's suggestion that you find a copy of the original mono VHS release and listen to that while watching the DVD sounds appropriately weird to me.))

"Toby" Halicki was killed on the set of the abortive production of "Gone in 60 Seconds II" in a freak, non-driving accident. Too bad; i'd love to have seen what he could have done with a little more experience and the bigger budgets he would probably have gotten as time went on.

Highly recommended, even if it doesn't have the original soundtrack.
The image at the top of this review is not the cover image from the current video/DVD release; it is the one-sheet for the original UK release in 1974. The new box art looks altogether too much like the 2000 in-name-only "remake".