American Car Movie Week Day 4: H.B. Halicki’s Gone in 60 Seconds

Today I watched H.B. Halicki’s Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

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H.B. Halicki was not a film maker before undertaking the project of writing, producing, directing, and acting in this feature.  He was a car guy, owning his own impound lot and towing business, while doing odd jobs in that field for Hollywood as well.  I guess one day he looked out over his vast collection of automobiles and decided to wreck them all on film, because that is exactly what happens here.  The plot is fairly barebones, with a gang of car thieves tasked with assembling a rather large number of cars in a very short amount of time, it all goes well except for one car, a yellow Mustang.  The situation just goes from bad to worse and what follows is one of the longest and best car chases in film history.

Independent spirit permeates every element of this film, for both better and worse.  First off the actors are all friends, family, bystanders, and amateurs, and they all ad-lib the vast majority of what they are saying.  At times this can be quite apparent, but for the most part it lends the film an air of realism, as the use of non professional actors often does.  Furthering the deep verisimilitude is Halicki’s knowledge about everything automobile, some of which leads me to question much of the legality of this film’s funding.  But maybe that’s just me buying into the mystique of the automotive mayhem which Halicki works in.

Halicki may not have understood much about production, but he has the one thing necessary to create great art, passion.  Despite it’s low budget, this film cuts no corners, Halicki literally puts his own body on the line to make it look great.  It all culminates with a chase scene verging on forty minutes in length that really expresses what Halicki is going for.  It is simply of the most adrenaline pumping action sequences of it’s time and of all time.  Sure the characters are underdeveloped, as is the plot, but the heart and grit on display here is amazing and inspiring, full of passion.  5/5

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