Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
May 20, 2016 6:17 AM - Subscribe

Insurance investigator Maindrian Pace and his team lead double-lives as unstoppable car thieves. When a South American drug lord pays Pace to steal 48 cars for him, all but one, a 1973 Ford...

Gone in 60 Seconds is a 1974 American action film written, directed, produced by, and starring H.B. "Toby" Halicki. It centers on a group of car thieves and the 48 cars they must steal in a matter of days. The film is known for having wrecked and destroyed 93 cars in a car chase scene. This film is the basis for the 2000 remake starring Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie. (wikipedia)

• The featured car in this film, affectionately named "Eleanor," is a 1973 Ford Mustang Mach I.

• H. B. Halicki wrote, starred, directed, produced and even did his own stuntwork in the film. In a contemporary context, the portions of the film preceding the chase sequences are generally seen as on par with a period B-film.

• Halicki employed family and friends (instead of professional actors) to play parts in his movie to keep the budget low. The characters depicted as being members of the emergency services were actual police officers, firemen, or paramedics. The then-mayor of Carson, California, Sak Yamamoto, also appears as himself.

• All of the police cars damaged in the film, the garbage truck that overturns, three fire trucks (including two waiting for the cars to clear, and another one stopping to put out a fire) were bought at city auction by Halicki in 1972, for an average price of $200 each. Everything sat in an empty lot for over a year until production began in 1973.

• Ironically, the fire trucks seen on the Vincent Thomas Bridge during the main chase were real Long Beach FD units on their way to an actual emergency call. The "crash" staged for the film blocked both lanes, preventing the trucks from proceeding until the cars were cleared. Halicki asked the camera crew to film them in case he found a place and time to fit the shots into the movie.

• There was no official script, apart from several pages outlining main dialog sequences. Much of the action/dialog was improvised and ad-libbed by the cast and crew as they went along. This caused many problems for the editor, Warner E. Leighton, who never knew what footage was being dumped on him or where in the movie it belonged. In the DVD audio commentary, he described the script for the construction site scenes of the main pursuit as a piece of cardboard with a circle on it. Halicki pointed at it and said, "That's the dust bowl. We went around it twice. There's your script."

• The pursuit is the longest car chase (40 minutes) in movie history and takes Pace through five cities as he attempts to lose police. Nearly every civilian vehicle seen in close proximity to the main chase (especially in downtown Long Beach) was owned by Halicki. This resulted in several cars appearing multiple times in the 40-minute sequence. The intact "Eleanor" used for beauty shots and the white Ford utilized by Pace and Stanley can be seen parked in a few Long Beach sequences.

• In one scene at the construction area, a patrol car roars up a hill in pursuit and overturns. This was not planned; the driver inside was nearly crushed when the siren "can" on the roof caved the roof in. The scene was left in the finished film.

• J.C. Agajanian Jr., who plays a detective in the roadblock sequence at Torrance Mazda Agency, was almost killed when Halicki missed his mark, hitting one of the unmarked Plymouth Belvedere patrol cars, sending it careening towards Agajanian, who missed it by quick reflexes and luck. The near collision was left in the film and is very apparent.

• The Ford Country Squire station wagon that flips during the earlier night-time chase in Torrance was overturned by six men lifting it up from one side. The film was later skip-framed to create the desired effect.

• The garbage truck that overturns was pulled by cables attached to two tow trucks. The cables attached to the top of the truck are clearly visible as it topples.

• To achieve the effect of cars sliding into each other at Moran Cadillac, an oil slick was placed under the tires of the first car to assist it in sliding. According to the commentary track on the DVD, the film company owned the first two Cadillacs in the row; the remainder were the dealer's. When it came time to do the stunt, the oil trick worked too well – many of the agency's own Cadillacs were badly damaged. Halicki had to purchase all of them.

• The jump scene at the end of the chase is notable and set the standards for a number of subsequent pictures. Acting as the climax to the lengthy chase sequence, the "Eleanor" jump managed to achieve a height of 30' over a 128' distance, a feat rarely attempted today without CGI or a gas-driven catapult (as was used to jump the General Lee in the 2005 film remake of The Dukes of Hazzard).

• According to people on the set, after the mishap when a driver missed a mark and caused "Eleanor" to hit a real light post at 85mph, the first thing that Halicki said when he regained consciousness was "Did we get coverage?"

• Halicki compacted ten vertebrae performing this jump. The injury was not serious, although director of photography Jack Vacek claims that Halicki never walked the same again.

• 93 cars are crashed in this 97 minute movie.


This movie is a selection of the Shut Up And Drive! club.
posted by valkane (3 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Shut Up And Drive! will be screening this film tonight (Friday, May 20) at 9:00 pm ET. Click Here To Watch.
posted by valkane at 6:19 AM on May 20, 2016

The pursuit is the longest car chase (40 minutes) in movie history and takes Pace through five cities as he attempts to lose police.
...making it the inspiration for every long-distance police chase that pre-empts TV in L.A. with "Breaking News" coverage... thanks, Toby.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:22 AM on May 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

The ending of this film is a payoff in so many respects.
posted by valkane at 12:06 PM on May 21, 2016

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