Monsieur Hulot is the creation of Jacques Tati, who in this 1971 film plays a car designer for Altra, a small Parisian manufacturer. Hulot is a tall, greying haired, bumbling yet loveable fool of advancing years. Dressed in a lightweight faded beige overcoat, grey slacks that are too short, revealing yellow socks with black hoops, Hulot’s character is defined by the ever-present furled umbrella on his arm, a never-lit pipe and battered trilby. His walk and general mannerisms are exaggerated, adding further comedic demeanour to the film’s storyline. Hulot rarely speaks and when he does his speech is almost imperceptible.
The film begins within the Renault factory; shots of panels being pressed (one wrinkled door pressing halting the process), tyres on overhead gantries, almost complete Renault 16s followed by a cinemascope of hundreds of completed cars. The film then cuts to the bustling, chaotic Altra atelier. The hapless workforce in paint splattered or filthy overalls aimlessly fuss about, not at all desperate it seems to Continue reading “Trafic”
When George Lucas survived a serious automobile accident, his ambitions of becoming a professional racing driver ended. Fortunately, his ideas concerning movie making took an altogether less destructive route.
American Graffiti revolves around several characters on the cusp of life changing affirmations – leaving school, home, starting college or jobs – growing up. Gawky, inexperienced teenagers fighting with pent up emotions; some brim with confidence, others Continue reading “The Coming Of Age”
The character of Simon Templar has smoothly transitioned his way from the printed page, to radio and finally the silver screen, both large and small. Created by British/ Chinese author and scriptwriter, Leslie Charteris, the devilishly handsome detective known as The Saint has always needed wheels – real or otherwise – something characterful, with a dash of the debonair.
Today we tell the story of the Batmobile, the automotive hero of the 1966 children’s television series that was based on the comic book adventures of Batman and Robin.
DTW readers of more mature years will immediately recognise the apparently random selection of words in the title above. They are lifted from the opening credits of Batman, a 20th Century Fox children’s television programme that ran from 1966 to 1968 and made an indelible impression on one childish mind at least.
The hero of the programme was Bruce Wayne, a wealthy bachelor played by Adam West, who led a double life as Batman, protecting the good citizens of Gotham City from the dastardly deeds of a variety of colourful, if inept criminals including The Riddler, The Joker and The Penguin. At Batman’s side was Robin, a.k.a. Bruce Wayne’s young ward, Dick Grayson, played by Burt Ward, and their indefatigable and unflappable butler, Alfred Pennyworth, played by English actor Alan Napier. Continue reading “WHAP!…POW!…BIFF!…OOOF!”
Watching television was once a simple act. As youngsters, the choice was scant, yet memory suggests programs containing both interest and drama. With modern day 24 hour, on-demand supply, choices of what and when to be entertained with often raise anomalies when one is forced to observe a production that might not be one’s first choice.
Another thinly disguised excuse to write about a car that I like and used to own. This is my singular experience of going Italian, and very gratifying it was too. And, reliable.
I remember falling in love with the FIAT Cinquecento Sporting at first sight (and read, it was an article in Car – by Andrew Frankel, I think – entitled “Itsy, Bitsy, Teenie Weenie, Yellow Hotted Up Machinie”, or something similar). The little FIAT had everything I liked at the time. It was small, chunky, smart, with just enough tough about it (almost entirely down to slightly lowered suspension and a set of 1” larger and wider alloys and tyres), and came in a beautifully bright and cheery yellow.
People who love both cars and films love car movies, right? It’s not quite as simple as that, though.
A life without films and cars would be a terrifying prospect to me. I’d have to spend whatever spare time I’ve got cooking and eating, both of which are pastimes with inherent limits in terms of the worthiness of their pursuit. Continue reading “Theme: Film – Undriven”
At a pinch, you might find some old footage of Donald Stokes selling buses to Cuba, or Len Lord playing golf, but one car industry boss had a richer celluloid catalogue.
The only new car launch I have attended was in 1969. It took place in Harrods, and all I knew was that it was to be a Jensen. Jensen had introduced their Interceptor and FF three years previously, so I wondered what this could be. A four door version? A mid-engined sportster? A convertible? I was intrigued. Continue reading “Theme : Film – Director!”
Is there a “car film” car enthusiasts can all agree to like?
Those of us who love cars belong to a broad church. The 1997 Glanza driver is unlikely to enjoy the same movies as the pootler in his perfectly restored 1932 Ford 8. Some of us worship at the altar of pistons and power while others genuflect at the shrine of good looks.
My holy grail has always been big coupes, but surely there is room for us all (well maybe I’ll draw the line at modified cars). There’s never going to be a film or even a genre to suit everyone. My tuppence worth (you’re probably going to get about 48p if you keep reading) says I would have put Bullitt in a notchback and I really don’t like movies where the car is the star.
What really works for me is a movie with well cast cars that are credible and complement the story being told. Perhaps comedy is where we might find some agreement amongst ourselves. Continue reading “Theme: Film – Comic Relief”
Usually cars in films are a background detail. Occasionally they have a more important role.
For the 1983 cinematographic production “National Lampoon’s Vacation”, a Ford LTD Country Squire was transformed into a Wagon Queen Family Truckster. The production designers could almost have taken a stock car as it was, so grotesque had some American vehicles become by the time the film was in production. Continue reading “Theme: Film – National Lampoon’s Vacation”
DTW fearlessly exposes the possibility of widespread corruption in the TV Police Force.
Film-makers are sometimes depressingly conservative, sometimes surprisingly ambitious. One particular bit of audaciousness is the conceit that you can take a book that took 2 years to write, that would take 2 weeks to read and boil it all down to a 2 hour movie, maybe less. Without that juicy rights cheque, how many authors would let that happen? But despite this, there are screenwriters who make a reasonable fist of the job, creating at least a shell of the original, or maybe a pared-down alternative.
One of the difficulties in doing this is the representation of a character. A novelist can spend several pages, using the protagonist’s inner thoughts, in order to give the reader a pretty good idea of who they are. In a movie you can’t Continue reading “Theme : Film – Cop Out”
BORDERLESS LIMITS : When feisty Australian ex-lifeguard Lindi Jackson (Nicole Kidman), on holiday in Europe after her marriage break-up, gets mistaken for a British businesswoman and offered the top job at French car maker Citroën, it looks like a recipe for mayhem. However Lindi vows that she will make a success of the ailing firm by introducing the element most missing from today’s cars …. FUN! But it’s never going to be plain sailing. As if the stuffed shirts in the boardroom and the constant harassment from a weird bunch calling themselves Citroënistes isn’t enough, Lindi is visited by the ghost of André Citroën (a tour de force characterisation by Johnny Depp). After a hilarious bunch of wacky misunderstandings, Lindi and André form an uneasy alliance, but will they be able to put the joie back into the chevrons? DTW VIEW : Absolutely Chucklesome! Great Fun!Continue reading “Theme : Film – DTW Recommends”
There may be more famous examples of car casting – yet no other automobile has ever played as significant a role, in the real world as in the movie realm, as a black Mercedes 450SL.
The name of the man we actually need to thank/blame for the 1980s as we know them isn’t Ronald Reagan, but Ferdinando Scarfiotti. Even without grotesquely overstating the cultural importance of cinema, few would argue about the value placed on style and glamour during the decade that gave us the power breakfast, braces and big hair/shoulder pads/mobile phones.
Not the 1978 film directed by Werner von Fassbender, but the stuff that accumulates on the car.
Even if you leave a car in a nice dry underground carpark, dust eventually settles on a car’s bodywork. In urban areas the dust is a mixture of exhaust particulates, pollen and vegetable matter such as pollen and leaf fragments. We breathe this stuff in all the time.
During summer when the humidity is on the low side, this dust usually remains mobile. As winter settles in and air temperatures drop, the air moisture tends to Continue reading “Theme: Film – Grime”
This piece relates not to a film, but to a TV series translated from a collection of detective books. Hopefully readers will allow me a little latitude.
I think most people know that (Chief) Inspector Morse was originally the owner and driver of a Lancia, not a Jaguar Mark 2 (or was that really a Daimler?). Having read most of the books by Colin Dexter many years ago on the back of viewing a few of the TV episodes (pre-kids, one had time to waste like that), a few thoughts were stimulated by the changes wrought by the TV production company in its literary adaptations. Continue reading “Theme – Film: The Mystery of Inspector Morse’s Car”
I am sure that this has been the title of some film at some point, but I have a broader point to make.
My one-time step father used to work for the Met Police and frequently came home in squad cars of an incredibly nondescript nature – a brown Hillman Avenger, a yellowy beige Morris Marina, etc. You may be getting my drift (incidentally, having been Hendon trained, he was quite adept at creating his own drifts, but that is another story). Continue reading “Theme: Film – Incognito”
We look at what once went on in the supposedly dark hours of broadcasting.
Around my middle teens, I was in dire need of displacement activity. Anything to put off revising for exams in those early Summer months. What better than the television. Naturally, back then, there wasn’t 24 hour broadcasting, and there were no afternoon movies, soaps or reality encounter shows. But there were Trade Test Transmissions. Continue reading “Theme : Film – Between The Gaps”
Sean has returned from his holiday in Northern Spain bearing a present of a single bottle of an unspeakably foul sweet sherry, charmingly gift-wrapped in the plastic bag of the supermarket that he bought it from. Since Eoin and Richard prefer to keep themselves removed from DTW’s London nerve centre, and because all three skinflints who present themselves as my principals refuse to allow me a PA, Sean and I are the sole inhabitants of our editorial office. Although I am rather less heavily-jowled than Mr Wather Matthau, and Sean is no match for the trim, bright-eyed Mr Jack Lemmon, as we sit at our desks I am nevertheless put in mind of the once popular movie, ‘The Odd Couple’. By which you might gather that the ‘Film’ of this month’s theme is the cinematic kind although, in the DTW spirit of pragmatism, if one of our correspondents insists on submitting a piece on the flexible properties of polyester film in automotive applications, I will consider it. Continue reading “Theme : Film – Opening Credits”