Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

Despite having built enough of a cult reputation to earn a glossy remake in 2000 (starring Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie), the car-chase movie Gone in 60 Seconds is a wobbly piece of work. Created as a passion project/vanity piece by first-timer H.B. Halicki—who served as writer, producer, director, star, and stunt driver—the picture is about a car thief’s epic quest to steal one particular model of Ford Mustang in order to fulfill a bulk order from nefarious clients. Owing to Halicki’s inexperience, virtually every aspect of the film’s execution contributes to overall sloppiness. The script was more or less made up as Halicki went along, so it’s often hard to tell how scenes relate to each other, and the production sound is terrible, so dialogue is either indecipherable or terribly dubbed. The acting is just as bad as the filmmaking, with wooden non-performers delivering lines flatly. Furthermore, because the crooks in the movie wear disguises to look alike, it’s often difficult to tell which character is appearing in which scene. Given these egregious shortcomings, Gone in 60 Seconds lives and dies entirely on the strength of its money shots. Happily for Halicki, large-scale automotive spectacle flows freely throughout the picture—in addition to lengthy scenes of cars zooming down city roads and highways at crazy speeds, Gone in 60 Seconds features an outrageous number of car crashes. According to the lore surrounding the movie, Halicki was an avid car collector who provided dozens of vehicles for onscreen destruction, often repairing vehicles after crash scenes so they could be slammed again and again. Halicki also performed many dangerous stunts, resulting in moments like a heart-stopping crash during which the main car—a Mustang that Halicki’s character nicknames “Eleanor”—spins into a light post after tapping another car while blazing full-speed down a highway. Halicki walked away from that one, but his luck didn’t last forever. After making two more features, neither of which gained the notoriety of his debut, the director was killed in 1989 while filming a stunt for a planned sequel to Gone in 60 Seconds.

Gone in 60 Seconds: FUNKY


Tommy Ross said...

ashamed to say I've never seen this, I'm off to the races...looks very inexpensive on Amz...thanks Peter!

Bonnach said...

The acting is horrible, but that didn't bother me as a 10 year old when I first saw this. I thought it was the greatest movie ever!!

I saw it again a few years ago and was aghast at my taste as a 10 year old. Anyway, this is a car chase movie and that's where it makes its bones. And the main chase is pretty good still, but man... the acting and production values are just the worst. It's still better than the remake, which doesn't say much for that movie.

Varnsen said...

Whatever you do, don't buy it on DVD. The only way to see this flick is to source a VHS copy or a version ripped from video. If you see the remastered DVD version, you're getting a much cleaner picture but the soundtrack is totally different. In place of Phil Kachaturian's wonderful tunes (ranging from funky to poignant) you've got dreadful, generic synthesized music. Maybe they were too mean to pay Kachaturian the copyright fees to use his songs again.

As for the original film, the acting was wooden due to the use of non-professionals. But this point is irrelevant anyway since nobody in their right mind watches an action film to appreciate Shakespearean performances.

The previous comment slammed the production values. That's also incorrect as no expense was spared in the staging stunts or furnishing the film with everything necessary to tell the story.