Gone In 60 Seconds

1974, Movie, PG, 105 mins


Amateurish, badly acted and shot on the cheap (many sequences don't even have sync sound), this cult item features a 40-minute car chase (almost half the film's running time) that's nothing short of breathtaking, particularly in light of the obvious budgetary constraints. The minimal plot involves a gang of Southern California "insurance adjusters" who actually steal cars and run a thriving chop shop. Their boss, Maindrian Pace (writer, producer, director, stunt driver H.B. "Toby" Halicki, a professional body-and-fender man who made his fortune restoring wrecked luxury cars), scores a contract to deliver 48 high-end luxury vehicles to a Venezuelan client; the hitch is that the gang has less than a week to secure all the cars. When speaking to each other they use code names — girls' names — for all the vehicles on their list; "Eleanor" is a coveted 1973 Mustang, and it's while boosting an Eleanor that Pace finds himself in the soup. One of his partners, with whom he's had a falling out, has tipped off the cops, and Eleanor sets off an alarm. And the chase begins; it starts in Long Beach, eventually careening through a total of seven counties, leaving a trail of demolished vehicles. Halicki bought and smashed up 93 cars over the course of seven months, at a cost of some $160,000 (nearly a fifth of the film's total budget) and the result is electrifying, in part because it's clear that everything you're seeing is spectacular stunt-driving, not special effects. On a trivial note, scream queen Jewel Shepard made her debut in a bit part in this picture. Halicki made only one other film, THE JUNKMAN. He was killed Aug. 20, 1989, at the age of 48, while filming the aborted sequel Gone in 60 Seconds II: The Slasher. A stunt involving a collapsing water tower went awry and brought a telephone pole crashing down on Halicki's car. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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