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Gone in 60 Seconds April 18, 2007

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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This 1974 film was the basis for the remake starring Nicholas Cage and Angelina Jolie. I had seen the remake earlier but the reference to this film in the recent release, Grindhouse, made me want to check this out. This is a no plot B-movie that was made on a very low budget with the singular intention of thrilling the audience. H.B. Halicki (nicknamed Toby) wrote, directed and acted (without a double) in this film that was produced, marketed and distributed by him outside of the studio system and it apparently had a cult following grossing $40 million.

Halicki plays Maindrian Pace, an insurance investigator who doubles up as a car thief. He gets his biggest contract to steal 48 cars in a week. He embarks on this task with his group and successfully steals all the vehicles with minor roadblocks. He returns the last one, a Ford Mustang nicknamed Eleanor on compassionate grounds and tries to steal another to replace it. One of his group members who has an altercation with Pace informs the police and a long chase ensues.

Bad acting, poor background score (that was apparently redone in this remastered version available on DVD and is hated by fans of the original), unimpressive editing and inexperienced direction mar the initial part of the film but that wasn’t the focus anyway. Halicki makes his intentions clear and dispenses with the actual plot quite quickly which takes us to the more thrilling parts. The stretches without dialogue and with the background score not helping, some of the audience might be bored till they get to the final chase.

The best part of the film really is the exciting 40-minute chase that it is famous for. The good thing about it is that it feels very real like some of police chase videos we get to see on television. Since the crashes are all real, it adds to the effect. Better editing and background score could have greatly improved the effect of the chase. 93 cars were apparently destroyed in this one and some of the accidents were actually unplanned. Also, most of the people on the streets apparently had no idea that a film was being shot and hence their reactions were real.

The DVD that I saw also had chases from his other films as additional features. Here is some information about those.

The Junkman
Halicki’s second film was also referred to as Gone in 60 Seconds 2 sometimes. The two chases that I got to see were shorter and more thrilling than the chase in Gone in 60 seconds and the background score is improved too. This one features some shooting and explosions also. Apparently this one is in the Guinness Book for the crashes of over 150 vehicles including planes.

Deadline Auto Theft
This one is supposedly a newer version of Gone in 60 seconds with most of the footage being retained and tagging on a new beginning chase and an extended climax to improve the plot. The new chase in this one was more of the same.

Gone in 60 seconds 2
This was the unfinished sequel to Halicki’s claim to fame but things went horribly wrong and Halicki died on the sets of this one. The chase here was probably the best of the lot. The use of the “Slicer”, which I hadn’t ever heard of before (and I guess most people haven’t) made it particularly appealing to me.

The DVD also has a documentary on the life of Halicki. It is nice to know that a lot of fans of Halicki’s films have a respect for his passion and the amount of effort he put in to make these films. The danger in making these films was high but it never stopped him from continuing on despite the accidents for each of these films. His death was a tragedy but his passion is worth talking about and it is worth hearing.

Despite all the flaws in this film, Halicki deserves praise for doing what no one had done before. Filmgoers of today will probably find it difficult to relate to this low quality production but action junkies should enjoy the chase. If you do have a liking for chase sequences, checking out this DVD might be worth it.

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