Smokey and the Bandit/Cannonball Run/The Blues Brothers (Todd)

Some viewers have been surprised by the humor in Drive Angry. But that was always the plan. While Drive Angry is serious but with some laughs, Smokey and Cannonball delivers a perfect blend of high speed chases and laughs. Then you have The Blues Brothers at the other end of the spectrum where even the car chases are so over the top they become a Chuck Jones cartoon.

Bullitt/The Seven Ups (Patrick)

You have to credit these chase scenes together. They have the same basic structure, both chases start in the city — Bullitt in San Francisco and The Seven Ups in Manhattan — and end on the highway outside of town. In both instances the heroes (Steven McQueen and Roy Scheider respectively), are chasing two men in one car, the passenger literally driving shotgun. And in both chases, the driver of the pursued vehicle is the same driver/actor stunt man, Bill Hickman. Hickman not only drove and acted in both these sequences but also drove much of the car/train chase in The French Connection. If you examine the chases from Bullitt and The Seven Ups, you can map out, almost beat for beat many similarities of overall structure. And while there are differences throughout, the key difference is in how each chase ends. Bullitt ends spectacularly with the villains driving into a gas station and exploding into a massive fireball while Steve McQueen watches from across the road. The Seven Ups ends with Scheider getting forced into the back end of a (conveniently) parked semi trailer. He narrowly avoids getting his upper torso sheared off along with the roof of his Nova as metal tears under metal in a jaw-dropper of a stunt.

Vanishing Point (Todd)

Watching this movie reminds me how fragile we are. This was before CGI, before crash tests. Cars were steel and engines and on occasion actually exploded. The movie is perfect because I like hippies, the western states are quite lovely and the 440 Magnum V8 gives me a woody.

The French Connection (Patrick)

This is likely the car chase of all car chases. And it’s a car chasing an elevated train. The almost documentary grit of the entire film is centerpunched in this pivotal sequence where Gene Hackman’s character is chasing after an escaping suspect on board the train. Hackman’s character wheels through traffic, both auto and pedestrian at such high speed, with such reckless disregard, you can’t help but be unnerved. Scoreless, the sequence is set against squealing tires and panicking sounds of passerbys to chilling effect. If you ever wanna shoot a car chase, this is the sequence to watch.

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