Welcome to the first edition of Cinophile – a weekly feature showcasing films that are strange, brilliant, bizarre and explains why we love the movies. And today’s choice is Gone in 60 Seconds.
No, no, not that movie starring Nicholas Cage and Angelina Jolie. That was okay… for a date film. It had a few cars and a couple of chases. It was the equivalent of a steak at a roadhouse. The original, though, is like being served at the Restaurant At The End Of The Universe.
H.B. Halicki sure loved cars. He loved them so much that he eventually wrote, produced, directed and starred in a movie that was all about cars. The plot is familiar to those who have seen the remake: a gang of car thieves need to steal an extensive list of cars before a certain deadline.
The remake added more fluff to that story. In contrast, Halicki’s version was so barebones that, at times, you simply watched the actors do idle stuff while voiceover conversations furthered the story. It’s as badly-acted as you could imagine – Halicki used friends and family where he could. But that is because the story didn’t really matter. The cars did – in particular Eleanor, the Ford Mustang that featured in both versions. This final, elusive car – in both versions – became the object of a giant police chase that caused all sorts of mayhem.
The difference? In the remake the highlight is, perhaps, a gas cylinder pounding an SUV through a wall. The original produced the single longest car chase in cinema history. For over 40 minutes Halicki and Eleanor are pursued by the boys in blue. In the end Gone In 60 Seconds saw nearly 100 cars damaged or totalled. One particular crash involved a Cadillac dealership that was almost as bankrupting as the helicopter crash in Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes.
In the end it’s total car-porn and cinematic gold. Gone In 60 Seconds has never been topped. You can roll out your Bullitt, Ronin and French Connection. You can talk about how nice the opening sequence of Drive was. You can wear your Fast & Furious underwear. None of that matches this tour de force.