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Car Movie Enthusiast Reviews

Ranking

Title and Review

Senna.2010.

Very detailed documentary of the life of Aryton Senna, who for ten years dominated Formula 1 and won the championship 3 times (and, but for politics, a 4th). Very appealing character, and a hero to his fellow Brazilians. Also a very tragic death in his 10th year of F1.

This film has just been released and has opened in North America as this is being written. We've seen it twice, and every viewing is worthwhile. The technology is crude, the speeds are high, and when accidents occur they are sudden and fatal. And yet you'll see people (Rubens) and names (Michael) that you will recognize even if you only started following F1 recently.

On that point, this is also a historical documentary, tracing the history of racing for a ten-year period. During that period, as shown by the cars in the events, you'll notice considerable technological evolution just in appearances alone (the film doesn't cover any aspects of engine development). And that evolution also covers safety aspects - just look at the position of the head of the drivers in the cars over the years. In the early days of Senna, the head was fully exposed and upright. In later years, it was located further down into the chassis - although it would be years yet until the Hans device was invented.  

The video is available already outside North America, and will probably become available inside North America before the end of 2011. If you can't wait for your own copy, get the UK version from Amazon (and a universal region DVD player from a source such as Jlist) and it will be a very worthwhile addition to your collection. 

 

2nd Tier! Seven Ups, The: 1973.

The modern car chase era started in 1968 with Steve McQueen's Bullit. There were any number of car chases in films before Bullitt, especially in the teenage delinquent era of the 50s when street racing ended up in terrible crashes, going over cliffs, or when teenage "devil dolls" pulled hold-up jobs from their cars and ruined their young lives (and the bad kids were always shown as an example to the good kids).  

But what we call the modern era involves high performance V-8 soundtracks, squealing rubber, turns and jumps that are difficult but still possible (versus the cartoonish "Fast and Furious" type car films of more current times), and intelligent drivers who are not muscleheads but do appreciate their cars (aka not Dwayne Johnson or Vin Diesel). Steve McQueen gave us this era, and it was followed up by several period actors including John Wayne and Roy Scheider.

Yes, Roy Scheider, before he hit the big-time in Jaws (and his creative peak, All That Jazz). The Seven Ups was intended as a follow-on to The French Connection but only the bare background of the story remains. Scheider plays the head of an elite police unit in New York City (where else?) that actually existed. Their job is to take on the toughest crimes with the toughest methods. This is the best type of "70s" police movies: the city is tough, gritty, and violent, scheming criminals are pervasive and many cops are dirty, but a handful of dedicated officers are even tougher and are determined to clean up their piece of the streets - no matter what it takes.

Spoiler alert: thanks to YouTube, we can offer the entire chase here. But we still recommend that you add the film to your collection because it's one of the great ones for car enthusiasts. Background: some bad guys have just killed a fellow police officer. Roy gives chase in his personal Pontiac Ventura, obviously enhanced with an engine it never came with and featuring plenty of extra power. The chase itself is fabulous and very well done, and you'll recognize many parts of New York City from those days.

Lots of fun details: no seatbelts, kids in street, and New York City traffic not a quarter as bad as it is now.

But watch what happens to end the chase - this is absolutely unique and you will feel what happens to Scheider. Turn up your sound, go full screen, and enjoy:

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Shaker Run: 1985.

Shot in New Zealand. Predictable car chase flick, w/ Cliff Robertson and Leif Garrett.

She Devils on Wheels:

I don't know about recommending this one! Made in the sixties, it's either a very risqué drive-in film, or a low grade porno. In any case, it is very tame by modern standards. The "Man-Eaters" is an all-female biker gang, who pick up guys and then take them out for a "drag" behind their bikes "afterwards". It's so bad you can't stop watching. The rape scene is so absurd it's laughable.

Enough said, it's a campy/schlock classic.

  The Silencers.  1966.

Many readers might think that Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery was the first spy film spoof ever made. That would be wrong, and those readers would be 20 years young or less!

One of the first major spy spoofs (of many) was a series of movies starring Dean Martin as Matt Helm. The Silencers is definitively a product of the ’60s, and perhaps of Las Vegas and the Rat Pack as well. And there is indeed something in The Silencers for car enthusiasts besides the period cars: how about the original Sex Wagon? When you are on the run from the bad guys, with a beautiful babe along, and need to spend the night – your handy 1966 Mercury wagon with a fold-out tent comes in handy. And not just any tent, but a virtual palace fit only for super-stud Dean Martin.

Read more in the press release below from one of our favorite museums, the Volo Auto Museum, who has the original prop car used in the filming.

And note, Elmer Bernstein composed the film score. This was not a low-budget film!

In July 2006, the actual car resurfaced. Press release follows:

 
 
VOLO, Ill., July 17 /PRNewswire/ --

Stella Stevens serves Dean Martin a drink while they cruise in the Sex Wagon, the 1966 Mercury Station Wagon that served as a love nest for the screen legends in the 1966 spy movie "The Silencers." The groovy custom car features two separate bedrooms, a fully-stocked martini bar, a tailgate modified to lower as a step, and a TV. After 39 years in storage, the Sex Wagon is now on public display at the Volo Auto Museum in Volo, IL. (PRNewsFoto/Volo Auto Museum)

After 39 years of hibernation, the 1966 Mercury Station Wagon that served as a love nest for Dean Martin and Stella Stevens in the 1966 movie "The Silencers" is now on permanent display at the Volo Auto Museum. A stylish, sexy adventure in the tradition of James Bond, "The Silencers" was a big hit for screen legend Martin and Playboy model Stevens. As secret agent Matt Helm, Martin saves the planet from a megalomaniac and his dastardly covert organization. George Barris, builder of the original Batmobile and other famous Hollywood cars, created the perfect mode of transportation for a spy living the swinging lifestyle made popular by Martin and his Rat Pack friends. The Sex Wagon, as it's referred to in the movie, features two separate bedrooms clad in leather upholstery, a fully-stocked martini bar, a tailgate modified to lower as a step, and a working TV, which was a big deal in 1966.

The museum recently purchased the wagon from the private estate of Swing Dance Hall of Fame Member Lou "Bart" Bartolo. A big fan of the three Matt Helm films, Bartolo purchased the wagon from a back-lot sale at Columbia Pictures in 1967 and kept it in storage until his recent death. The museum spent months restoring the vehicle to its original condition. On July 1, 2006, during a special event at the museum, Barris was reunited with his Sex Wagon for the first time in nearly forty years. Believing the vehicle had been destroyed, Barris was shocked and thrilled to see the wagon once again and began to recall stories of Martin and Stevens and the production of "The Silencers." "For me, this car is a great reminder of a very special time in Hollywood history," he said. "It brings back a lot of good memories."

The Volo Auto Museum is home to the George Barris TV & Movie Car Collection, featuring the original Batmobile, The General Lee, K.I.T.T. from Knight Rider and close to 50 other famous vehicles. The Volo Auto Museum, 27582 W. Volo Village Road, Volo, IL, is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is $8.95. Special rates are available for children, seniors, veterans and active military.

 

 

  Skyfall: 2012. A notable James Bond movie, perhaps the best in the series since it explores the childhood of Bond himself as well as the pressures on M of managing the group - and calling the shots when needed.

Notable, too, for the return of the original Aston Martin DBS. The story has the modern Bond storing this as a collectors car.

 

Smokey and the Bandit: 1977.

Ok, a black and gold '77 Pontiac Trans Am was cool for a while. This was back when Sally Fields was hot... the pre-liberal years when she was living with Burt Reynolds. 'Nuf said...

Nevertheless, this film has something.... I guess if you've played hide-and-go-seek with the radar cops for most of your life then you will see the appeal here.

Sally and Burt - making time in the Trans-Am Jackie Gleason as Sheriff Buford T. Justice. His car lost it's roof by being driven under a truck..

 

Smokey and the Bandit 2: 1980.

Gad-awful!

Smokey and the Bandit 3: 1983.

 Ditto!

Smokey Bites The Dust. 1981.

The homecoming queen gets kidnapped for a ride. Unbelievably, if all the car chase scenes seem familiar to you it is because they were copied from other films!

Speed. 1936.

James Stewart as a race car driver who develops his own carburetor. I've never seen it, but even the Three Stooges have a scene. Odd.

Speed. 1994.

Sandy, our favorite lady, has to drive a runaway bus with a bomb attached underneath - it will go off if her speed falls below 55 MPH (I've used this same excuse myself!).

Speed Crazy: 1959.

Typical trashy 50's car film about a crazy drifter car nut who doesn't fit into neat and orderly 50s-style society. I can't wait to see this one!

Speed Lovers: 1968.

Looking for it.

Speed to Spare: 1948.

About stunt-car driving.

Speed Zone!: 1989.

A complete rip-off of the Gumball Rally and Cannonball theme, including the sheriff.

Speedtrap: 1977.

Joe Don Baker - what type of film would you expect to see him in that didn't involve cars in some way shape or form? This time he is a private eye, set to catch a car thief.

Speedway: 1968.

 For you Elvis fans, this time he is a stock car driver. Cameos by Frank Sinatra, and several famous stock car drivers.

  Speedway Junky. 1999.

Terrible. A kid wants to be a race car driver, but hangs out with the wrong crowd.

  Spy Who Loved Me, The. 1977.

A different James Bond - Roger Moore instead of Sean Connery. A different car - a 1976 Lotus Esprit instead of an Aston Martin DB5. More special effects here than in Goldfinger, for example. The Esprit wasn't as fully functional as the DB5 was, and the concept of a submarine car was far-fetched compared to the DB5. It's a new-age Bond, and not necessarily a better Bond (especially in the later Bond films of Roger Moore, which were downright silly). It's a product of a new-age Britain, well past the war recovery years, and looking forward with cars like the Esprit. And there is no denying the sex appeal of the Esprit to the driving enthusiast. Especially when coupled with Barbara Bach!

Starman: 1984.

Alien and widow travel across the country in a Mustang (I liked Karen Allen more than the rest of the film).

  Starsky & Hutch: 2004.

Classic Fords, and a classic '70s TV show. A great combination, supported well by the great caste (and a nice cameo).

James Dean's 1949 Mercury in Rebel Without a Cause; John Travolta's 1946 Fat Fender Ford Coupe, "Greased Lightning," in Grease; Steve McQueen's 1968 Mustang GT 390 in Bullitt; Sean Connery's 1964 Aston Martin DB5 in Goldfinger; Batman's Batmobile - originally a 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car; Farah Fawcett's 1970s Mustang Cobra in Charlie's Angels; Thelma and Louise's convertible Thunderbird in Thelma and Louise; the 1992 Ford Explorer in Jurassic Park; the J1967 Jaguar XKE "Shaguar" in Austin Powers; Laura Croft's Land Rover in Tomb Raider, and the 1971 Ford Mustang "Eleanor" in Gone in 60 Seconds.. the Fords driven by Barnaby Jones and Frank Cannon... not to mention those of Charlie's Angels.

This film is the return of another famous Ford - once of the most recognized of them all. The "Red Tomato" - the 1976 Gran Torino of Starsky & Hutch! Although I seriously doubt that J Mays is plotting a comeback for it...

Of all the famous Fords of the past, why this one? Judge for yourself on March 5th 2004 when the new Starsky & Hutch movie opens!

You may not be aware that Ford actually built and sold a number of replicas of this car in the the 1976 model year. I remember seeing them at a local Ford dealer then, and several on the road over the years. On the weekend of the premier, a local collector brought one to the theatre.

 As for the film... its not bad! It's not great either. Owen Wilson is typically himself (he always plays essentially the same roles), Ben Stiller is a good fit for Hutch. Huggy Bear, though, is perfectly cast and steals many of the scenes.

Stingray. 1978.

Action movie about a couple of guys who buy a red Corvette convertible. Turns out it's full of stolen money and drugs, a car chase ensues. Violent, low-budget chase film, slightly above average. Christopher Mitchum (son of Robert). Also known as "Abagail: Wanted".

Stingray. 1985.

A TV action series centering around a Corvette. Pilot for a very short-lived series of the same name. Nick Mancuso, Susan Blakely.

Stroker Ace: 1983.

Burt Reynolds. Ned Beatty. Jim Nabors, Loni Anderson. A completely stupid, embarrassingly bad send-up of NASCAR racing. Too bad, it could have been a nice film. Don't waste your time.

  Stop Me before I Kill  Original title is The Full Treatment.  1960. 

See the description under the original title.

  Stuck. 2007.

This is a really controversial and sick film about a young women who hits a pedestrian on the street... only to have him embedded in her windshield. She continues to drive to her home and leaves her car with him still "stuck" in it in her garage. This story was taken from a real life incident in Fort Worth, Texas where the soulless young women did the same thing. You don't want to see this film!

  Swordfish. 2001.

Not a car film although there are a few moments with bad driving and special effects. Especially bad computer effects. Big car of the film is a 2000 TVR Tuscan.

Sugerland Express, The: 1974.

A fugitive couple travel to Sugerland, Texas to get their son back. Goldie Hawn (the mother) and Ben Johnson (as the cop). This is Steven Spielberg's first theatrical feature. Most of the movie is a huge car chase across Texas (sounds like the caravan back home after a TWS event!).

  Superbad. 2007. Not a car movie per se, but it does have it's moments while inside the cop car.

Use this graphic to make your own McLovin fake drivers license.

 

Super Speedway: 1997.

Seeing this in IMAX is a nirvana experience for racers. The in-car footage shot in the special IMAX system takes you into (and out of) the turns at 220+ MPH. You will never see footage like this unless you actually drive in these types of events.

The DVD version has a special "making of" documentary that is very worthwhile.

Our #3 "best car film of all time"

  Sunday Drive. 1986.

Disney comedy about a number of identical cars, resulting in a switch of the dogs inside them. Not for car enthusiasts! And not to be confused with the Japanese film of the same name.

  The Sweeney. 2012.

The Sweeney is a new movie based on a '70s television show of the same name. The Sweeney is special squad of hardened police detectives in London, known as the Flying Squad, with officers who are empowered to use any method necessary, even illegal, to solve a crime. If you are Nick Clegg of the U.K. Liberal Democrats Party, you of course do not approve of this film.

The Sweeney was made with the help of Top Gear UK, which participated in the filming of a chase scene. Clarkson, May, and Hammond are credited as stunt drivers. And the Flying Squad is equipped with a Ford Focus ST. Shameless product promotion, or simply the best weapon for the job? We'll choose the latter, since the impact the new ST is making worldwide has as its root the dynamic brilliance of the car.


"Sometimes you have to act like a criminal, to catch a criminal."

The Sweeney premiers September 12, 2012 in the U.K.






Ford Press Release:

ALL-NEW FORD FOCUS ST PREMIERES IN THE SWEENEY

BRENTWOOD, Essex, 3 September 2012  –  Ford's first global performance car takes centre stage this month with a starring role in new film blockbuster The Sweeney.

Premiered tonight in London, Flying Squad detectives Jack Regan (Ray Winstone) and George Carter (Ben Drew aka Plan B) lead a cast of crime-busting officers as they pursue London's criminals in black Ford Focus ST high-performance hatchbacks.

On sale this month in five other colours including Tangerine Scream and Spirit Blue, the Ford Focus ST’s 2.0-litre 250PS EcoBoost engine and explosive acceleration ensure the film’s criminals struggle to make a clean getaway.

The Sweeney director and co-writer Nick Love, whose prior credits include The Football Factory and The Firm, said:  "It was important for me to collaborate with Ford on The Sweeney as their legacy with the original TV show is so strong – they're the perfect partner.  I like the Ford Focus ST so much, I want one!"

The Ford Focus ST goes head to head with a Jaguar XFR on a high-octane chase scene in the film.  The cars will again recreate their duel at CarFest North at Cholmondeley, Cheshire, this weekend after appearing at last month’s CarFest South.

Ford's strong link with the 1970s Sweeney TV series saw Regan, Carter and their Flying Squad colleagues use a string of Ford Granadas, Consuls and Cortinas to make the streets of London a safer place.

Anthony Ireson, Ford Britain marketing director, said:  “The new Focus ST is a hugely exciting car for Ford with terrific dynamic credibility.  It will be a car for real driving enthusiasts, so Regan and Carter won't be disappointed."

The new Ford Focus ST five door is priced from £21,995, with a stylish estate body style debuting at £23,095.  By the end of August, Ford dealers had taken over 450 orders for the Blue Oval’s latest performance car prior to it reaching their showrooms this month.

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