We hope that you and your family are safe and healthy. These are unprecedented and scary times. Given that most of us are hunkered down in our homes, we are posting a list (and summary) of some of the all-time great car-related films. It is hard to put pen to paper here and talk about events in the car world given that 1. It is all trivial compared with the gravity of what the world is facing, and 2. There is not much to report, given the world as a whole has stalled out (car factories around the globe remain closed as of this writing). Truthfully, it is hard to find anything worthy to write about that is appropriate in times like these.
We thought a curated movie list would be a welcome and helpful respite from this pandemic we are all facing. We all find ourselves with nothing but time on our hands and anxiety in our hearts. We hope that your family stays safe and that this pandemic (with and all the physical, social, and economic pain it has wrought) comes to an end soon. If we have not said it enough, Turtle Garage is grateful to our subscribers, sponsors, stakeholders, and supporters.
Some of our film picks are high profile big money films that many have already seen. Movies like Ford v Ferrari, Senna, Cannonball Run, Christine, and Smokey and the Bandit are all well worth another viewing. Other selections are films that are a bit more esoteric. You might not know titles like Good Bye Pork Pie and Chasing Perfect, the biography of legendary car designer Frank Stephenson. Please feel free to post other movie ideas or reviews on this page below so that your thoughts and viewpoints can enlighten Turtle Garage readers.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay positive.
Here is our list in no particular order. Please feel free to add to or critque the list on the discussion bulletin below.
The Blues Brothers: After his release from prison, Jake (John Belushi) reunites with his brother, Elwood (Dan Ackroyd)—collectively known as the “Blues Brothers.” Jake’s first task is to save the orphanage the brothers grew up in from closing, by raising $5,000 to pay back taxes. The two are convinced they can earn the money by getting their old band back together. However, after playing several gigs and making a few enemies, including the police, the brothers face daunting odds to deliver the money on time.
Release date: June 20, 1980. Directed by John Landis.
Cannonball Run: Contestants in a cross-country car race from Connecticut to California include a speed-loving racing driver disguised as an ambulance driver and his dimwitted sidekick, a pair of Ferrari-driving priests, and a James Bond-type character kitted out with secret weapons. Jackie Chan appears in one of his first US film roles.
Release date: June 19, 1981. Directed by Hal Needham.
Christine: Unpopular nerd Arnie Cunningham (Keith Gordon) buys a 1958 Plymouth Fury, which he names Christine. Arnie develops an unhealthy obsession with the car, to the alarm of his jock friend, Dennis Guilder (John Stockwell). After bully Buddy Repperton (William Ostrander) defaces Christine, the auto restores itself to perfect condition and begins killing off Buddy and his friends. Determined to stop the deaths, Dennis and Arnie’s girlfriend, Leigh Cabot (Alexandra Paul), decide to destroy Christine.
Release date December 9 1983: Directed by John Carpenter.
Italian Job: After a heist in Venice, Steve (Edward Norton) turns on his partners in crime, killing safecracker John Bridger (Donald Sutherland) and keeping all the gold for himself. The rest of the team, including leader Charlie Croker (Mark Wahlberg), driver Handsome Rob (Jason Statham), explosives man Left Ear (Mos Def) and tech geek Lyle (Seth Green), vows revenge. They enlist the help of Bridger’s daughter, Stella (Charlize Theron), and plot to recover the gold from Steve’s Los Angeles mansion.
Release date May 30 2003: Directed by Gary Gray.
Smokey and the Bandit: Big Enos (Pat McCormick) wants to drink Coors at a truck show, but in 1977 it was illegal to sell Coors east of the Mississippi River without a permit. Truck driver Bo “Bandit” Darville (Burt Reynolds) agrees to pick up the beer in Texas and drive it to Georgia within 28 hours. When Bo picks up hitchhiker Carrie (Sally Field), he attracts the attention of Sheriff Buford T. Justice (Jackie Gleason). Angry that Carrie will not marry his son, Justice embarks on a high-speed chase after Bandit.
Release date May 27 1977: Directed by Hal Needham.
The Car: Two bicyclists are run down by a strange black car in the desert near a small town in Utah. But this is just the first in a series of hit-and-run murders. Sheriff Wade Parents (James Brolin) is called in to investigate, and his deputy, Everett (John Marley), is killed by the black sedan, which, some witnesses say, has no one behind its wheel. When the car threatens a local school parade, the lives of the town’s children and Wade’s teacher girlfriend, Lauren (Kathleen Lloyd), are endangered.
Release date May 13 1977. Directed by Elliott Silverstein.
The Gentleman Driver:Businessmen Ed Brown, Ricardo Gonzalez, Mike Guasch and Paul Dalla Lana moonlight as race car drivers.
Release date 2018. Directed by Mario Mattei
Uppity: The Willy T. Ribbs Story details the career of the first African-American racing driver to win a Trans Am race, test a Formula One car, and compete in the Indy 500. The title plays off how he was referred to by other racers and their mechanics when he was trying to make his way in the U.S. in the 1970s
Release date 2018. Co-directed by Carolla and Nate Adams.
The Gumboil Rally: A businessman (Michael Sarrazin), his rival (Tim McIntire) and other speed lovers enter an outlaw coast-to-coast car race.
Release date 1968. Directed by Charles Bail.
Rush: In the mid-1970s, charismatic English playboy James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) and Austrian perfectionist Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) share an intense rivalry in Formula 1 racing. Driving vehicles that are little more than gas-filled, rolling bombs, Hunt and Lauda burn up the track, all the while pushing themselves to the breaking point of physical and mental endurance. Meanwhile, the women (Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara) in their lives can only watch as both drivers risk death with every lap.
Release date September 30, 2013. Directed by Ron Howard.
Senna: Ayrton Senna becomes a three-time Formula One racing champion and Brazil’s national hero before his untimely death at age 34.
Release date August 2011. Directed by Asif Kapadia.
The Love Bug: Race car driver Jim Douglas (Dean Jones) and his philosophical mechanic, Tennessee Steinmetz (Buddy Hackett), find themselves in possession of a white Volkswagen Beetle that seems to have a mind and spirit of its own. Calling the car Herbie, Jim and Tennessee become the talk of the California racing circuit — much to the displeasure of sports-car dealer Peter Thorndyke (David Tomlinson), who tries to use his assistant (Michele Lee) to come between the friends and their car.
Release date March 13, 1969. Directed by Robert Stevenson
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: While truant from school, young siblings Jeremy and Jemima meet the beautiful Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes), who falls for their widowed father, Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke), and his various oddball inventions, including the family’s noisy rebuilt car, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. One day at the beach, Caractacus tells Truly and the children a fanciful fable about the villainous Baron Bomburst (Gert Frobe) and his evil designs on the Potts family car.
Release date December 18 1968. Directed by Ken Hughes.
Ford v Ferrari: American automotive designer Carroll Shelby and fearless British race car driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference, the laws of physics and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary vehicle for the Ford Motor Co. Together, they plan to compete against the race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.
Release date August 30 2019. Directed by James Mangold
Gone in 60 Seconds (new version): A car thief is forced to steal 50 luxury vehicles in one night in order to save the life of his brother, who has fallen foul of a dangerous crime lord. Once the most successful car thief in California, he must reassemble his old gang to fulfil the almost impossible mission. His task is further hampered by a rival band of thieves and, of course, the local police.
Release date June 5 2000. Directed by Dominic Sena.
Days of Thunder: In the fast-paced world of NASCAR, a rivalry brews between rookie hotshot Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise) and veteran racer Rowdy Burns (Michael Rooker). When both of them are seriously injured in competition, the former bitter rivals become close friends. With Cole’s spirits restored by a romance with neurosurgeon Dr. Claire Lewicki (Nicole Kidman), and Rowdy still sidelined by injuries, Cole decides to race Rowdy’s car in the Daytona 500 against underhanded newcomer Russ Wheeler (Cary Elwes).
Release date June 27 1990. Directed by Tony Scott.
Good Bye Pork Pie: Two New Zealand losers (Tony Barry, Kelly Johnson) in a stolen Mini Cooper lead the police on a chase, picking up a girl (Claire Oberman) and selling parts off the car along the way.
Release date January 1984. Directed by Geoff Murphy.
Who Killed the Electric Car: Following a strict mandate on air emissions in California, General Motors launches the EV-1 in 1997. It is an electric automobile that requires no gas, oil, muffler or brake changes and is, seemingly, the world’s first perfect car. Yet six years later, GM recalls and destroys the EV-1 fleet. Filmmaker Chris Paine examines the birth and death of a revolutionary vehicle.
Release date June 26 2006. Directed by Chris Paine.
Tucker: Based on a true story. Shortly after World War II, Preston Tucker is a grandiose schemer with a new dream, to produce the best cars ever made. With the assistance of Abe Karatz and some impressive salesmanship on his own part, he obtains funding and begins to build his factory.
Release date August 12 1988. Directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
The Art of Racing in the Rain: Denny Swift is a Formula One race car driver who understands that the techniques needed on the racetrack can also be used to successfully navigate everyday life. Besides his career, Denny has three loves of his life — his beautiful wife, their young daughter and his best friend, which is a dog that wants to be reincarnated into a human.
Release date August 8 2019. Directed by Simon Curtis.
Chasing Perfect: This film is a retrospective of the work and life of automobile designer Frank Stephenson. Frank’s passion for drawing and automobiles since his youth led him to study automotive design at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California from 1982 to 1986. Stephenson has been the director of design for MINI, Ferrari, Maserati, Fiat, Lancia, Alfa Romeo and McLaren before moving on to Lilium Aviation to lead the design team creating flying taxis, known as eVTOL aircraft, as well as being Design Master at Suning Intelligent Technology, a major Chinese technology company. Additionally, he is the design director of his independent design studio, Frank Stephenson Design, an award winning team which designs and collaborates with companies world-wide seeking success through creative innovation
Release date 2019. Directed by Helena Coan.
Rendezvous: The film shows an eight-minute drive through Paris during the early hours (05:30) of a Sunday morning in August (when much of Paris is on summer vacation), accompanied by sounds of a high-revving engine, gear changes and squealing tyres. It starts in a tunnel of the Paris Périphérique at Porte Dauphine, with an on-board view from an unseen car exiting up on a slip road to Avenue Foch. Well-known landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe, Opéra Garnier, and Place de la Concorde with its obelisk are passed, as well as the Champs-Élysées. Pedestrians are passed, pigeons sitting on the streets are scattered, red lights are ignored, one-way streets are driven up the wrong way, centre lines are crossed, and the car drives on the sidewalk to avoid a rubbish lorry. The car is never seen as the camera seems to be attached below the front bumper (judging from the relative positions of other cars, the visible headlight beam and the final shot when the car is parked in front of a kerb on Montmartre, with the famous Sacré-Cœur Basilica behind, and out of shot). Here, the driver gets out and embraces a young blonde woman as bells ring in the background, with the famous backdrop of Paris.
Release date 1976. Directed by Claude Lelouche.
Risky Business: Ecstatic when his parents leave on vacation for a few days, high school senior Joel Goodsen (Tom Cruise) cuts loose with his best friend Miles. After an attempt at securing the services of a prostitute goes slightly awry, Joel hires gorgeous Lana (Rebecca De Mornay) for a night of delight. Stunned by the amount of Lana’s “bill” the next morning, Joel grows frantic after he crashes his father’s Porsche. In an effort to raise lots of money fast, a desperate Joel turns the house into a brothel.
Release date August 5 1984. Directed by Paul Brickman.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) has an uncanny skill at cutting classes and getting away with it. Intending to make one last duck-out before graduation, Ferris calls in sick, “borrows” a Ferrari, and embarks on a one-day journey through the streets of Chicago. On Ferris’ trail is high school principal Rooney (Jeffrey Jones), determined to catch him in the act.
Release date June 11 1986. Directed by John Hughes.
Sources: Wikipedia. Google, Walt Disney,
Grand Prix By John Frankenheimer
Always perennial, timeless, a masterstroke from another era.
What about “The Yellow Rolls Royce” and “The Great Gatsby”? (Does “Driving Miss Daisy” qualify?) All good fun.
I have a 29 Packard that bears a great resemblance to the RR in Gatsby, but it’s a much better car. The car used in the Gatsby movie was at a Bonhams auction a few years ago and it had been poorly reconstructed with fiberglass fenders. It was disappointing to see it up close. Much better to enjoy it via the magic of Hollywood.
Vanishing Point (the Original) , The Transporter, Ronin….
Two Lane Blacktop ! is a great car movie with a hot 55 Chevy as the star !
There is a great documentary on Netflix called Shelby American. You can almost smell the cars.
Overnight I thought of three more
“Goldfinger” starring Sean Connery but REALLY starring an Aston Martin DB4, introduced by Q with all its tricks. The movie made the car worth $6.4 million at auction and generally lifted the value of all Aston Martins for many years afterward. Bond actually used the tricks in the flick.
Similarly, but not so car-oriented, The Graduate put Alfa-Romeo on the American map. The company much later came out with a model called “The Graduate” to milk the nostalgia.
Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” used his car as symbolic of his choice of lifestyle.
Three more car movies come to my mind. One is “LeMans” with Steve McQueen, an unabashed race car enthusiast. James Garner’s “Grand Prix” is another. Then there is Paul Newman’s “Winning,” where he depicts a competitor in the CanAm series driving the McKee car. This flick got Newman interested in sports car racing, which he undertook successfully.
Interesting list.suggest you add “Duel” (1972) with Dennis Weaver. Spielberg’s first movie direction, now available on Blu-ray. You will recall this movie every time you see an 18 wheeler tractor-trailer truck looming large in your rear view mirror.
Lee, thanks for this suggestion, great addition!
This list does us a great service. I hadn’t heard of some of these, and I really need some help finding interesting video entertainment. I would also recommend “The Bourne Identity” for the car chase through the streets of Paris. Overall, it’s the most gripping action movie I have ever seen.
You forgot “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” The Ferrari action happened off camera but drove the whole story. Also, “Risky Business,” wherein the entire plot revolves around Tom Cruise having dropped his father’s Porsche into the lake while his parents were away on vacation. The most immortal line from the movie was Cruise telling his buddies,
“Porsche — There is no Substitute.”
I don’t know how Risky Business and Ferris Bueller did not make the list! Thank you for your suggestions! I hope everyone keeps reading the strings as we are getting a lot of additions! Stay safe!
Wait!! Wait!! You (no doubt inadvertently) blew past my all-time favorite car movie, Ronin, starring Robert DeNiro, directed by the great John Frankenheimer. For those of us Youngtimer fans, the sight and sounds of great European sedans dicing through Paris and the French Riviera is just too cool to miss.
Wow how did I miss Ronin! Thanks of the catch! Stay safe.
What about “Vanishing Point”?
Thank you. The best list I have seen so far.
I have not seen it but will watch it tonight! Thanks of the tip!
Thank you. Trying times all around and your list is a welcome respite these days.
I changed the oil on the 993 and will do the same on all the other cars over the next few weeks. Tinkering has been my escape, and I’m gearing up to dissemble, clean and reassemble bits and pieces of all things mechanical. All thanks to the nearly unlimited store of YouTube DIY videos.
Be safe my friend.
I am in Florida so not near Turtle Garage or I would be doing the same thing. Tomorrow I am going to wash the S550 and the R8. Maybe as a result of all this we find pleasure in the simpler things in life. Stay safe!
That is a classic! Also, I did not include Rendezvous, the race across Paris! Its very short but a must!
My recollection is that the people involved in making Rendezvous were arrested for their part in the making of the film, because actually running a car at racing speeds through the streets of Paris was so dangerous!