April 28, 2007

Polls > What's the Greatest Car Chase in Movie History?

This Metafliter post prompts the question. Thanks to YouTube and Pollhost we can settle it now. Watch the clips and vote in the poll at the bottom. In chronological order:

Bullitt (1968), Steve McQueen, San Francisco Style points: San Francisco hills, motorcycles, gunplay, fireball wreck

The French Connection (1971), Gene Hackman, Brooklyn
Style points: gunplay, elevated train, crash-n-bash

The Seven-Ups (1973), Roy Schieder in N.Y.C.
Style points: massive tire squeal, busted fruit crates, smashing a police barricade, gunplay, potential decapitation

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974), Peter Fonda in rural America
Style points: telephone pole wipeout, helicopter pursuit, fiery finale

The Blues Brothers (1980), Dan Akroyd and John Belushi, Chicago
Style points: massive cop car destruction, gunplay, Nazis, car-swallowing pothole, Mission from God

The Road Warrior (1981), Mel Gibson in the post-Apocalyptic Australian Outback
Style points: gunplay/weapons play, helicopters, hockey masks, cattle catchers, S&M lifestyle wear

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985), William Petersen in Los Angeles
Style points: train racing, warehouse district, L.A. river, gunplay, driving backwards on the Long Beach expressway, jackknifed tractor-trailer

Ronin (1998), Robert De Niro in Paris
Style points: metro tunnel, wrongway driving, foreign cars, gunplay, car carrier, flipped cars, gasoline fire

Bourne Identity (2002), Matt Damon in Paris
Style points: motorcycles, sidewalks, wrongway driving

Trivia:

  • William Friedkin directed both The French Connection and To Live and Die in L.A. He won a Best Director Oscar for the former. The film was nominated for many other Oscars, and Gene Hackman won a best actor Oscar for his role as Det. Jimmy 'Popeye' Doyle.
  • Roy Scheider appeared in both Seven-ups and The French Connection. Roy Scheider is totally Airwolf.
  • Bill Hickman was the stunt double for Gene Hackman in The French Connection and Roy Schieder in The Seven-Ups, and did stunts in Bullitt, Rebel Without a Cause, and The Vanishing Point, among others.
  • Filmsite.org has an opinion on the greatest movie car chases.

Now it's time for your opinion.

What's the Greatest Car Chase in Movie History?
Bullitt
The French Connection
The Seven-Ups
Dirty Mary Crazy Larry
The Blues Brothers
The Road Warrior
To Live and Die in L.A.
Ronin
The Bourne Identity
  

UPDATE: Several people mentioned The Vanishing Point and its five chase scenes. Pollhost doesn't let me add poll choices, but you might enjoy watching its five car chases. I hadn't seen the movie, and so I didn't list it, but to be honest I don't think I would have. None of its car chases is intense enough by themselves.

Matrix 2 was left out because it's a CGI festival. It's cool, but it's not a car chase.

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Comments

Perhaps the single greatest blog post of the last 5 years.

And to think, I have nearly all (To Live and Die in LA) on DVD

Posted by: countertop at April 27, 2007

Listen, I hate to say it, but the car chase in the Director's Cut of Basic Instinct was full on... ;-)

Posted by: Mark Steel at April 28, 2007

I'm partial to "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry". I was eight years old when I saw it at the Patterson Theatre in Baltimore. The film's ending stills shakes me.

Posted by: Frank at April 28, 2007

I voted for the "Bullitt" chase; IMHO, the first of the classic Hollywood car chases is still the best and most realistic. Although these days I almost can't stand to watch it, considering all the abuse that was inflicted on two perfectly good classic musclecars. Especially the Charger. Oh, Lord, that poor Charger.

I get the same sick feeling when watching "Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry" too...

...For sheer entertainment value, it's hard to beat either "Blues Brothers" or the climax of "The Road Warrior," which tie for second on my personal list.

Posted by: Wes S. at April 28, 2007

I'm partial to Bullitt because a '68 Charger 383 m/t was my first car. I can even overlook all the 4 speed manual sound-effects coming from both automatic transmission cars.

Posted by: Mopar at April 28, 2007

I didn't recognize the name "Dirty Mary Crazy Larry" but when I saw the end I realized I had seen it as a kid. Probably at a drive-in.

I had never heard of the "The Seven-Ups" but man it looks good.

I voted for "To Live and Die in L.A."

Posted by: Les Jones at April 28, 2007

Was "The Bourne Supremacy" chase too anemic to include? It was just a Soviet taxi cab but still...wow.

Posted by: Ben at April 28, 2007

I love the Bullitt chase for a number of reasons. The first and most important is that the chase is not covered up with stupid music or dialog. It simply has the sound of the motors and the other incidental noise for the chase. I crank my sound system up during the chase scene just for that.

The fun part of the chase is to watch the same 3 or 4 cars that are in the way, like teh VW Beetle, etc.

Posted by: Andy at April 28, 2007

Nice roundup!

And a tough question. Bullitt sort of invented it and there's the Steve McQueen cool factor. French Connection took it to the next level. Blues Bros. thoroughly satirized it, creating pop culture legend.

So I would go with Bullitt, and Blues Bros. in the camp division.

Bourne Identity is probably the best of the new crop. But I'll stick with the classics.

Bonnie and Clyde should probably be on the list, too, and Thunder Road, and Vanishing Point, although it's not technically a chase scene, and probably Sugarland Express, but not for the action and explosions.

Posted by: R. Neal at April 28, 2007

Wasn't that the same guy driving the car in both Bullitt and in the Seven Ups? A bit older, and 70's-fied hair. A well-known stunt driver perhaps?

Not as famous, the chase at the beginning of Beverly Hills Cop. I still like the bit of them doing a 180 with a city bus.

Posted by: TheSev at April 29, 2007

Goldeneye. Tank chase in St. Petersburg.

I know ... its not a car. But cars were chasing it.

Trivia: "Bill Hickman, the driver of the Charger in "Bullitt", also drove one of the Pontiacs in the "The Seven-Ups" and did the chase in the 1st "French Connection" film with Gene Hackman.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0382707/

Posted by: Bruce at April 29, 2007

You forgot Heat!

Posted by: n00ser at April 29, 2007

The original Gone in 60 Seconds needs to be on that list. Yes, only the last 40 minutes are worth watching, but what a ride!

Posted by: Dave at April 29, 2007

Does anyone remember the movie "The Taking of Pelham 123"? I seem to remember a scene that wasn't a chase but a race against time to get ransom money across town before the bad guys started killing hostages... pretty exciting old school stuff (early 70s?)

Posted by: scherbius at April 29, 2007

I read an article on the making of the Bullitt chase and it was fascinating. First, they were the first to film in full speed. Before that, they would speed the film up to look fatser. Second, McQueen wanted to drive the car himself, but in the first sceen, he looses traction and spins a bit. They left that in the movie actually, but took him out of the car for the pros to handle it. As a Mopar fan, my favorite was the cars. They took the Mustang and had it souped up. Bigger tires, stiff springs, built up engine, the works. The Charger they bought off a showroom floor. And the Mustang could not keep up. They put skinnier tires on the Charger and it still could not keep up. They ended up having the Charger driver not push it so hard. They credit that movie chase with allowing there to be enough 69 Chargers around to do what they did for the Dukes of Hazard's General Lee. They also shot many scenes from a distance with cameras out of view, which threw off the crew, who through they were shooting live traffic with the stunt drivers. One got really freaked out when the motorcycle guy went down and they had to restrain him, because he thought it was a citizen wrecking.

Guess what I voted for. Also, I have the soundtrack, and there are a few versions out there, but that Chase sceen music is aweome. It does during the chase, and Lalo Schiffrin defines Steve McQueen. Listen to that soundtrack driving around town and you are ready for a high speed chase to break out any second!

Posted by: Swanky at April 30, 2007

The car chase in The Rock was pretty good if I remember right. A Hummer bashing its way around San Francisco.

Posted by: yaminohasha at April 30, 2007

The transporter. Transporter 2 was better, but for driving and chase scenes, I can't believe that Bullit scored higher. . .

Posted by: s1m0n at May 02, 2007

Wow, no mention of The Driver either!

http://imdb.com/title/tt0077474/

1978 starring Ryan O'Neal and Bruce Dern.

Posted by: jonom at May 05, 2007

perhaps not quite on par with the above choices but deserving to be mentioned with such a list is the exhilarating chase through the metro in Diva

Posted by: dystopiandreamgirl at May 07, 2007

What about the car chase in the Italian Job (original)?

Posted by: TDK at May 10, 2007

hi, im remmembered and looking for a car action movie, well it's a great movie but i forgot who the actor is, and the title of the movie.

But i remmember the actor modified the car so when the police, put the "mohawk trap" (so the tire blows up) but the tire was ok, and nothing happened to the car.

There also some romance, because after a month chasing the car, the actor become famous and there was a lot of girl calling his name when he passing the other city

the last action is, there was a massive blockade with a tractor in the front line to stop the actor, he temporary stop the car and finally he decided to run down the blockade. yes there was a big explosion. but when the police looking for the body the actor was gone.

So did anyone know what the title is? sorry if i miss the vote. Well i vote for the transporter

Posted by: candrasa surya d at June 09, 2007

I'd include the chase scene from Vantage Point in my list of top car chases in movie history.

Posted by: Eric at March 18, 2008
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