Gone in Sixty Seconds (1974)

Today's selection:

"I don't want to sound like a Drill Sargent, but this is the biggest contract we've ever handled. I don't want any mistakes, okay? So pay attention. We've got to deliver forty cars to the docks by Saturday."

I never even heard of this film until the Nic Cage/ Jerry Bruckheimer remake from 2000. Which I still have never seen, but its release prompted a DVD release of the original. This is a truly unique piece of both cinema and Americana, a convergence of a singular character (HB Halicki) and a unique time and place (early 70s Los Angeles County and the freewheelin' days of 70s guerrilla film distribution.)

The viewer is treated to a high-octane tour of the industrial outskirts of Los Angeles County - far from the streets normally filmed, even for gritty 70s cop dramas.

The Scenic Route exists to celebrate the cars and landscape of a bygone age, and to that end and submitted for your approval, here is a visual stroll through Gone in 60 Seconds, a highlight of American independent cinema and of the decade which spawned it.

"Here's a list of the codes names. I want you to look at them, study them carefully, and get to know them. That's the only way we're going to refer to these cars from today on."

For a full list of the stolen cars, click here.
All of the police cars damaged in the film were bought at a city auction by Halicki for $200 apiece.
There is one very odd scene about halfway through the film.
Upon discovering that they have to go out and re-steal another "Eleanor," Halicki takes a long walk around the garage, admiring all the cars.
The music is the sort of score that would become big in the 80s (a bit ahead of its time there, unless it was added for the DVD) but it keeps cutting back to "Pumpkin Chase," looking at turns serene or sad and mournful back at the office.
What is the point of this?
I can understand showcasing the cars, but why all the schmoopy cutbacks to Pumpkin?

They might have made it clearer whether these two were brother and sister or husband and wife or she loved/loves him from afar or what. They act like the latter, but several other lines indicate she's part of the partnership of siblings that own the company.

I should also mention the garage is lined with Playmates of the 60s and early 70s, which at one point was required by law of all garages everywhere.
Back to the car porn.

The last half of the film is a 40-minute car chase that has to be seen to be believed. Halicki almost died twice while filming it - a tragic foreshadowing of the on-set accident that did kill him while trying to make a sequel years later. 

"I should've checked my horoscope today..."

"All units, stand by. One Bakery Eleven in pursuit of a 73 Ford Mustang, license six column 614 Henry Sam Ocean. Westbound, Ocean Boulevard, against traffic."  

More from the wiki: "The jump scene at the end of the chase is notable and set the standards for a number of subsequent pictures." 

'Eleanor' achieved a height of 30 ft over a 128 foot distance, a feat rarely attempted today without CGI or a gas-driven catapult.
"Halicki compacted ten vertebrae performing this jump. The injury was not serious, although director of photography Jack Vacek claims that Halicki never walked the same again."

A sequel of sorts was released in the early 80s (The Junkman) but I've unfortunately yet to see it. Sounds like the original version is hard to track down. Scenes from it were re-utilized for 1983's Deadline Auto Theft, along with scenes (and the basic plot and set-up) from Gone in 60 Seconds.



  1. Like you, I'd never even heard of this until the remake came out. I tried watching the remake, but gave up on it about twenty minutes in. Sounds like the original might be more to my liking.

    I don't know what to say about that "music video" sequence. I sort of assumed the editing made more sense in context, but from what you say, not so much!

    That's a shame about Halicki dying on a later set. But maybe he went out doing what he loved. We should all be so lucky!

    1. True that.

      It's a great flick. Add it to the list of DVDs I'll stash in the Emergency Apocalypse Bag instead of vital supplies, should such disaster hit when we're in the same city and running for our lives. (Or driving.)