Theme: Movies (Late, Late Show) – Cannonball!

On a misty morning in May 1971, an unassuming Dodge Custom Sportsman van christened ‘Moon Trash II’ pulled out of a New York parking lot and headed into the low sun, due west. 

moon-trash-2a
Moon Trash II (Image: Transcontinental Drivers Association)

Inside were journalists Brock Yates and Steve Smith, photographer Jim Williams and Yates’ son, Brock Yates Junior, plus a stash of junk food, cans of Coke and some empty quart bottles. Continue reading “Theme: Movies (Late, Late Show) – Cannonball!”

The Late Film: Mistaken Identity

Another thinly disguised excuse to write about a car that I like and used to own (yes, another one). This is my singular experience of going Italian, and very gratifying it was too. And, reliable.

dsc09929-copie-4f2ccce
The mighty FIAT Cinquecento Sporting (source Retro 02)

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 “Eeenie Weenie, Teenie Weenie, Yellow Hotted Up Machinie”, or something very similar). The little FIAT had everything I liked at the time. Continue reading “The Late Film: Mistaken Identity”

Theme: Film – Undriven

People who love both cars and films love car movies, right? It’s not quite as simple as that, though.

ryan-gosling-drive-007
Photo (c) upc.at

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”

Theme : Film – Director!

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. 

Jensen Director
Image from Richard Calver – http://www.richardcalver.com

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!”

Theme: Film – Comic Relief

Is there a “car film” car enthusiasts can all agree to like?

From The Big Lebowski: source
From The Big Lebowski: source

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”

Theme: Film – National Lampoon’s Vacation

Usually cars in films are a background detail. Occasionally they have a more important role.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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”

Theme : Film – Cop Out

DTW fearlessly exposes the possibility of widespread corruption in the TV Police Force.

It's been going on for ages : 1960s Los Angeles Homicide Police Captain Amos Burke and his unmarked car.
It’s been going on for ages : 1960s Los Angeles Homicide Police Captain Amos Burke and his unmarked car.

Film-makers are sometimes depressingly conservative, sometimes audaciously 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. Continue reading “Theme : Film – Cop Out”

Theme : Film – DTW Recommends

DTW recommends some of its favourite films.

poster

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”

Theme: Film – What Happened To The Most Important Car In Movie History?

There may be more famous examples of car casting – yet no other automobile has ever played as poignant a role, in the real world as in the movie realm, as a black Mercedes 450SL. 

i002402
Photo (c) imcdb.com

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 the movies, 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.

Continue reading “Theme: Film – What Happened To The Most Important Car In Movie History?”

Theme: Film – Grime

Not the 1978 film directed by Werner von Fassbender, but the stuff that accumulates on the car.

Source
Source

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”

Theme – Film: The Mystery of Inspector Morse’s Car

OK, so this relates to a TV series translated from a collection of detective books, but I’m hoping readers will allow me a little latitude.

morse-jag
If that were my car, I would not be happy with even John Thaw placing his foot on the number plate.

For a moment there, this opening was like a game of charades for the ‘visually impaired’ …

I think most people know that (Chief) Inspector Morse was originally the owner and driver of a Lancia, not a Jaguar Mk2 (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 adaptations from the books. Continue reading “Theme – Film: The Mystery of Inspector Morse’s Car”

Theme: Film – Incognito

I am sure that this has been the title of some film at some point, but I have a broader point to make.

bdinttss
Benedict Cumberbatch in 70’s cool, upstaged (again?) by his co-star

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”

Theme : Film – Between The Gaps

We look at what once went on in the supposedly dark hours of broadcasting.

tv-pm

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”

Theme : Film – Opening Credits

The Editor focuses on the first theme for Autumn

thunder-road

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”