Saturday, January 19, 2008

TOP 10 Car Chases

One of the key elements of a perfect “guy movie” is a good old fashioned car chase. We don’t care whether it’s the cops in hot pursuit or bad guys trying to run someone down to bust a cap in them. What we do care about is squealing tires, screaming engines and a driver who will drive it till he hears glass.

I've put together a list of ten movies containing what I think are the best chase scenes ever put on film.

Ask anyone over the age of 40 about car chases in movies and this one is likely to come up. This Steve McQueen classic came out during the peak of the muscle car era and imagine the fun of 400 horse power on the streets and hills of San Francisco. At the time it came out, this was without question the best car chase ever filmed.

Vanishing Point
This 1971 cult classic stars Barry Newman as Kowalski. His task? Drive a Dodge Challenger from Denver to San Francisco in 15 hours. A bit of a post-Easy Rider hippie flair, but the chase sequences set against the back drop of the open territory of the western states are spectacular.

Smokey and the Bandit
The movie that made Burt Reynolds one of the biggest stars in Hollywood in the late 70’s and helped Pontiac sell a ton of Black Trans Ams with fire breathing chickens on the hood. Reynolds stars as “The Bandit” running block in the Trans Am for a truckload of bootlegged Coors beer leading to the destruction of dozens of cop cars spanning from Texas to Georgia.

John Frankenheimer set out to make the chase scenes in this movie be the ones that future directors would study when they wanted to create an incredible chase sequence of their own. We think he succeeded. You’ll have white knuckles from gripping the arms of your recliner in this one. And between the chases you get a darned good action flick.

Thunder Road
Robert Mitchum stars in this 1950’s classic. This thing played in drive-ins for years and years. Mitchum plays a bootlegger being pursued by the revenuers. The 1950 Ford in this movie has a wonderful rumble when he puts the spurs to it.

The French Connection
Although this is not a car movie, the chase sequence is largely credited as being responsible for one of this movie’s 5 Oscars (best editing). This is a crime thriller about cops on the trail of a heroin shipment. But it contains a chase scene that was heralded as the best ever at the time it was filmed. Many of the stunts in this chase were actually real and unintentional such as the lady with the baby carriage who nearly gets mowed down.

Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)
Arguably the best pure car chase movie ever filmed. It spends maybe half of the movie setting it up, and the rest of the movie is one long chase with some outstanding car stunts. Most people had never heard of this movie until the year 2000 when Nicholas Cage starred in the Jerry Bruckheimer remake of the movie. But the remake doesn’t compare to the original which boasts 93 wrecked cars in a 95 minute movie. If you liked the 2000 version of the film, you’ll love the original.

Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)
This is the remake of the 1974 classic. However, about all it shares in common with the original in terms of storyline is that it is about a band of car thieves who have to steal alot of cars. This is a big movie with big stars, big stunts and a big budget, but the big chase scene is much much much shorter than the original. It’s still great and well deserving of a spot in our Top 10, but get yourself a copy of the 1974 version if you wanna really see Eleanor tear it up.

The Fast and the Furious
Based on the contemporary world of street racing, in this movie you’ll find souped up ricers with turbos and NOS trying to turn 10 second quarters instead of the classic muscle cars from the 60’s and 70’s. This action packed movie also has a rocking soundtrack that combined with the burning rubber should really get your heart pounding.

The Road Warrior
The movie that made Mel Gibson a major star. After the apocalypse one of the toughest things to find is gasoline. So what do these guys do? They ride up and down the highways at very high speeds looking for it. These highly modified vehicles have such toys as nitrous and super chargers and their drivers will stop at nothing to run their adversaries off the road to claim their fuel.

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