Car Movie Enthusiast Reviews

Ranking

Title and Review
The Wages of Fear (Le Salaire de la Peur): 1952.

Great film about men on the outs having to drive trucks over the mountains filled with nitroglycerine. Despite an anti-American tone of this French/Italian film, it's worth seeing for the photography and suspense. Great cast includes Yves Montand (who would later star in Grand Prix). Later remade as a cheap b-grade titled "Sorcerer".

Very very good.

Wanted. 2008.

Angelina Jolie mumbo-jumbo, and entirely forgettable.  Some folks thought this might be a great summer movie for car enthusiasts… unfortunately, it’s not a great movie for anybody.A picture named mov_wanted_080214_300w.jpg

On the car front, a handful of nice cars (and one that appear to have been pulled from the staff parking lot) are used throughout the film. From the trailers you might think the red Viper is the automotive star of the film… and you’d be wrong.

A picture named Ajolie-stunt-car.jpg After an impossibly silly stunt early in the film the Viper isn’t seen again. Indeed – and very oddly – in the very next scene an old C4 Corvette is substituted without explanation – totally out of style with the Jolie character. Perhaps the budget ran out and only allowed for one Viper stunt car – and indeed some people believe that the C4 was digitally inserted over the Viper. Worse, when the Jolie character is shown shifting, it’s a clearly a Viper shifter being moved. And that’s the end of even the slightest interest for car enthusiasts.

And speaking of being moved, several Viper Club members had reserved seating in the theater we originally saw this in. There they were, all but one with t-shirts featuring the big grinning worm, and the other with a shirt featuring racetracks the wearer had clearly never seen. After some glee from the appearance of the Viper very early on, they sat in glum silence for the rest of the overly-long nearly 2-hour movie.

Angelina Jolie gives an oddly wooden characterization, and even tosses in one naked butt shot. Does the UN Goodwill Ambassador need to do that?

James McAvoy as the reluctant hero does better, but his writers spend a huge chunk of the film explaining what a sad loser his character is: his best friend is bonking his live-in girlfriend and his boss looks like a refugee from the movie Hairspray (could that be John Travolta underneath?). And then there is Morgan Freeman, for some reason given an acting credit when he can’t act at all. He delivers his lines with the same lack of enthusiasm as he has done since before the gadawful Million Dollar Baby. I’m sure he could have tried a bit harder for his multi-million dollar fee. Freeman can do better than this… although he hasn’t for a very long time.

If there was a saving grace for this film, it was the theater we choose to see it at. Those of you readers in Austin or Houston TX are very familiar with the terrific Alamo Drafthouse chain – a locally-owned set of theaters that also serve food and drinks. The Alamo makes any stinker of a film (except for the lousy No Country For Old Men) a good time – as does a nice date.

 

Werewolves on Wheels. 1971.

Another ridiculous biker film.

  White Lightning. 1973.

Burt Reynolds in one of his classic roles, as a convicted felon released by the Government to track down a moonshine gang and crooked Sheriff (in the classic "South", is there any other kind?) played by Ned Beatty. That of course means lots of car chases - and crashes. And this film has one of the better ones, engineering by Hal Needham. And be sure to take a close look at the Ford Galaxy, equipped (of course) with a stock car engine.

The title refers to the moonshine, which of course is behind all the great movies of this genre. Another great film in this genre, some think the best, is Thunder Road with Robert Mitchum.

Also notable for the film debut of Laura Dern. Sadly, the availability of this film has been difficult but it is finally available on DVD.

Be sure to also get a copy of the definitive Hal Needham book, detailing his stunts and life. Fun reading!

First encounter with the Sheriff.

Burt goes to heaven.

Car Chase

Driving

 

The Wild One: 1954.

This is the first big motorcycle film, with Marlon Brando as the leader of a gang terrorizing a small town.  If you can take the early Brando acting style, this is an interesting film.

Wild Ones on Wheels: 1962.
2nd Tier! The Wild Ride: 1960.

An early Jack Nicholson film. He starts as an amateur racer, making trouble for everybody (but then it wouldn't be Jack otherwise). This quickly escalates into kidnapping, murder of police officers, and a tragic ending. Let that be a lesson to you!

This was released in 1960, but it's a classic 50s film through-and-through.

 

Wild Racers. 1968.

If you can somehow believe Fabian as a Grand Prix race car driver (with Mimsy Farmer as his "conquest"), you can make it thru this film. I tried, and just as I was admiring the photography of Italy (really well done), Fabian started singing. That's it, turn the channel...

Winning: 1969. Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward. Robert Wagner.

Paul is a man who will not let anything get in the way of winning. A melodrama made when (and solely because) car racing was "hip" in the sixties. Not very worthwhile, although the scenes of the early Indianapolis are interesting, as is the appearance of several actual drivers.

  The World is Not Enough. 1999.

A rather poor James Bond film, although Pierce Brosnan is "ok".

Pierce Bosnan as James Bond with John Cleese as "R" (Desmond Llewelyn still palying "Q"). The car is a 1999 BMW Z8 roadster.

 

The Wraith: 1986.

A copy of an actual concept car by Dodge, the "Turbo Interceptor" is used in the film. Charlie Sheen appears from the dead in it and challenges auto thieves. Seems to have been a vehicle for getting kids of famous actors some cameo time. Stars Charlie Sheen, Randy Quaid. The bad guy drives an old 'vette.

Unfortunately, a website setup for the car appears to be dead: http://www.thewraithcar.com

  The Yellow Rolls Royce. 1964.

The story of the ownership of a unique yellow Rolls Royce across the 1920s to the 1940s. The car is owned by a British Lord (Rex Harrison), an Italian mobster's (George C. Scott) moll (Shirley MacLaine), and a widow in the U.S. (Ingrid Bergman). Lots of drama, and some in the back seat of the Rolls. The attraction to driving enthusiasts here will be the Rolls.

  The Young Racers. 1963.

A dated "B" film about an ex racer writing a book about the Grand Prix racing circuit. The storyline and dialogue are dated, but the film can be worthwhile for persons interested in early 60's European racing. The race scenes were filmed on the actual race circuits -  and the amount of sliding the race cars do thru the turns will make you cringe. As will the bales of hay for safety barriers. But the photography and editting is first rate. Only the storyline lets it down for racing enthusiasts.

William Campbell, also seen as Trelane in the TOS Star Trek episode "The Squire of Gothos" and as Koloth in "The Trouble with Tribbles", plays his role as a womanizer with gusto. At issue is his treatment of women, and it's over-the-top-60s-sexist and tiring.

Unfortunately, the film is not currently available. But it is occasionally shown on TCM.

  You Only Live Twice. 1967.

James Bond with Sean Connery - the only "real" Bond. Very notable for the great story, as well as for the appearance of an ultra-rare and custom-built Toyota 2000GT convertible. Also a, S40 Crown that meets an unfortunate and unique end. It was a major hit in it's day, and is worth adding to your collection. Note that Nancy Sinatra sang the opening sequence.