UNITED STATES—Spark up a conversation at a dinner party over which is the single most famous movie car in history and you will doubtlessly be served a barrage of opinions. While these opinions are being shoved down your throat, as you attempt to feign pleasure in your host’s culinary dabblings, you may think to yourself, “Yes, that was a great car, but I’m not always in the mood for Italian. I need a little variety now and then.” For those of us who prefer a good ensemble cast rather than a single star car the selection of films becomes a bit sparser, however. Yes, true car connoisseurs generally need more than just one fancy four-wheeled vehicle featured in a few action sequences. We need a sampler platter featuring cars from all over the globe. We need layers and layers of exhaust notes and induction roars. We need a star-studded cast of iconic motors to fill the screen at every moment. We need movies like the following three:
The Cannonball Run (1981):
The Cannonball Run doesn’t pretend to be a serious character driven art house piece of cinematic brilliance. Quite the contrary. In the process of featuring over 80 vehicles either participating in an illegal cross-country race or foiling it (sometimes inadvertently), The Cannonball Run manages to poke a little fun at itself. For example, the character, Roger Moore, played by Roger Moore himself, is a parody of James Bond 007 to the point at which the character bounces back and forth between multiple personalities, struggling to identify which reality he inhabits: that of the actor or that of the British secret agent. Given the era in which the film was released, it is difficult to not notice the uncanny resemblance between Roger’s character and then U.S. president, Ronald Reagan. Reagan, himself, often borrowed lines from his own movies to include in his real-life speeches.
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000):
While Gone in 60 Seconds attempts to pass itself off as an action drama, most car buffs aren’t fooled by the pretense. This is first and foremost a movie about cars for people who love cars. The film even goes as far as devising an excuse to name each and every car. In fact, the primary conflict occurs between the main character and one of the many (over 100) cars featured in the film. Taking on a bit of a “Moby Dick” vibe towards its climax, Gone in 60 seconds manages to satisfy those who enjoy searching for symbolism and other cinematic elements as well.
The Fast and the Furious (2001):
While catering to the newly emerging import tuner enthusiasts, The Fast and the Furious offered up a giant sushi platter (most of the cars are Japanese imports) of close to 90 highly modified vehicles. The resurrection of a Toyota Supra (take a hint, Toyota) and the demise of a classic 1970 Dodge Charger prove to be the most dramatic moments in this film despite how hard the actors try to make you choose them over their four-wheeled co-stars. To their own detriment, the later films in the franchise tend to focus more on the human relationships. The original, though, is all about the cars.
Do you agree with our list? Please let us know if we’ve missed a film that would fit perfectly amongst these three. Or, if you have an entirely different list, feel free to share it in the comments section.