The car is more than just a mode of transport. It’s an aspirational – and inspirational – piece of machinery and has certainly inspired many filmmakers over the years. Often cars become an important part of many famous film and characters – who doesn’t associate Aston Martins with James Bond? Who can forget Minis running up and down steps in Turin during ‘The Italian Job?’.
These four-wheeled stars of the silver screen can leave a big impression – even inspiring some of us to want to learn to drive ourselves when we’re older.
Here are five of the best car films.
The Italian Job (1969)
This ‘comic caper’ film, revolving around a plan to steal a gold shipment in Turin by creating a traffic jam, features iconic Mini Coopers zipping around the Italian city and going up and down stairs and on the tops of buildings. There’s also literally a cliff-hanging ending on board a precariously balanced coach.
Along with Michael Caine, the film had a diverse cast including Benny Hill, Noël Coward, John Le Mesurier and Robert Powell. It was remade in 2003 with the present BMW MINI taking the ‘star car’ role.
Here is a website dedicated to the film.
The French Connection (1971)
Starring Gene Hackman and directed by William Friedkin, who also directed horror classic ‘The Exorcist’, this gritty police drama concerning New York cops trying to intercept a heroin shipment coming from France contains one of the most gripping and memorable car chases in film history.
Friedkin later said the car chase was mostly improvised and shot out of sequence over a five week period. An unplanned collision involving a member of the public’s car was kept in the final film with the person concerned being compensated for the damage.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Many can describe the car with the brightly coloured wings… even if they’ve never seen the film. Starring Dick Van Dyke, this evocative movie has probably induced a few nightmares thanks to the evil child catcher.
It’s also been made into a hugely successful West End stage production.
A definite ‘car is the star’ film, even though the green Ford Mustang Fastback with its throaty roar had acting heavyweight Steve McQueen behind the wheel.
Not many can describe the plot – McQueen is a cop chasing and tracking…well, someone, but it’s one of those films to simply enjoy watching the Mustang tearing round the streets of San Francisco especially in the spectacular car chase that features.
The Love Bug (1968)
A very sentimental film where the car – a VW Beetle – has a personality of its own. This film is notable for spawning the series of successful ‘Herbie’ films – five of them in all.
More great car films
There are many more car films of note. Animated gems include ‘Cars’ (2006) along with dramatic classics such as ‘Taxi Driver’ (1976) starring Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster, the George Lucas 1973 classic ‘American Graffiti’, and the documentary-like Le Mans (1971) amongst many others. Try this list from the IMDB (International Movie Database) for more car films if you just can’t get enough…