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5 Of Our Favourite Film Car Chases

By raccars Published

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The chase scene is an essential part of the best action thrillers but with today's reliance on CGI, special effects can end up looking a little sterile next to the rough and tumble stunt work of the past. The comedy car chases of the likes of Smokey and the Bandit and The Italian Job are works of art in themselves, but which cinematic car chases really evoked a sense of speed and danger?

Bullitt

The car chase of all car chases, the famous 11 minute scene from the 1968 Steve McQueen film set a precedent for the set piece that has influenced every film chase sequence since, foregoing a score in the background to focus on the sound of roaring V8s and burning rubber. The scene sees McQueen in a glorious 1968 Mustang GT 390 Fastback, terrorising the streets of San Francisco as he tangles with a pair of Dodge Charger 440 driving villains.

The French Connection

Tough New York cop, Gene Hackman, chases a killer aboard an elevated train in a commandeered Pontiac LeMans, in the classic 1971 police thriller. Filming included stuntman, Bill Hickman, racing through 26 Brooklyn city blocks at a steady 90mph. After the event, director William Friedkin conceded foolish risks had been taken to achieve the requisite cinematic thrills for the chase scene.

Vanishing Point

Also from 1971, Vanishing Point is one huge chase scene involving a bet to get to San Francisco from Denver in 15 hours. The race took place in a white Dodge Challenger and saw our troubled hero, Barry Newman, take to the open road while evading the 'Blue Meanies' (police) and musing upon his past, egged on by the media. Sadly, thanks to a pair of bulldozers, the journey comes to a hot, fiery and explosive end.

Gone in 60 Seconds

Not the dreary Nicholas Cage remake but the 1974 original, the filming of which saw the demise of 93 vehicles - not all of which was planned. Star H. B. Halicki, who also wrote, directed and produced the film, drove a yellow Ford Mustang called Eleanor to lead a gang of car thieves on a mission to steal 48 cars within a few days, resulting in a smashing - literally - 40 minute chase scene.

The Driver

Another Seventies classic that's far superior to a later remake, starring a super cool Ryan O'Neal as a getaway driver carving up the LA streets. He is pursued by arrogant but determined detective, Bruce Dern, obsessed with our taciturn hero and taking ever more dramatic steps to entrap him.

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