RR Films: Cars and Driving

With the surprising implication that someone might actually be driving the Brexit bus from a front seat, BoJo attempts to hijack the future with alternative facts from the past. Donny would be proud of the blonde blusterer: a chip off the old duplicitous block.

But it provides an opening to look at films about driving, whatever the vehicle. And there are whole genres contained therein: the Road Movie and the Race Movie. I’m picking the first full-length feature from a chap called Spielberg (wonder what he’s been doing since?): Duel. It’s classified as a TV Movie but I’m sure it has since kept cinema audiences on the edge of their seats as they watch the increasingly dangerous cat-and-mouse manoeuvres by the wheeled protagonists. What a way to announce the start of your career.

What films featuring motorised land-based vehicles (cars, trucks, buses, lawnmowers…) would you recommend?

41 thoughts on “RR Films: Cars and Driving

  1. It has to be the enigmatic, low-key Two Lane Blacktop, a 1971 road movie starring James Taylor and Dennis Wilson, who are known only as “The Driver” and “The Mechanic”. Shot in an almost documentary, fly-on-the wall style, the film doesn’t have much in the way of dialogue, but loads of atmosphere. On a topical note, the film features the recently-deceased Harry Dean Stanton as a gay hitch-hiker.

    The whole film can be found here on YouTube.

  2. I was once chased for miles down a narrow, windy road in Wales by a lorry…Duel had been on telly the night before. It was scary.

    I’ll go for Locke the tour-de-force by Tom Hardy, all alone in his car


  3. Back in the early 70’s I was a film maker on staff at a southern California university, there was a very nonedescript dept called “Radio & TV”, therein, was a student named Speilberg, According to the student newspaper he was working on a film about a truck titled ‘Dual’. As you say, wonder if he ever finished it?

  4. Auto donds for Duel.

    (See what I did there? Oh please yourselves!)

    Two others immediately spring to my mind – the original Mad Max and the terrifying Rutger Hauer in The Hitcher

  5. About driving –

    Wages of Fear – the Clouzot classic about 4 men who drive 2 lorryfuls of TNT over a hundred miles to close a burning oilwell in Central America somewhere, edge of the seat stuff and then some !

    Hell Drivers – a 1957 film starring Stanley Baker as an ex con who drives for a haulage firm where speed is everything and the firm he drives for are corrupt to the bone !

    About cars –

    The Italian Job – although not ostensibly about cars the fact that the film features 3 E Types and a Lamborghini Muira makes it an unforgettable film for me, and there is a lot of driving in it too !

      • Ta DsD, I’ll add ‘A Taste of Cherry’ (although I’m sure I’ve nommed it before) as it involves an Iranian driving around Tehran trying to find someone who will bury him after he has committed suicide, needless to say there aren’t many takers !

          • Hmm…not a car, though, is it? How about Nebraska, in which an old geezer (played by Bruce Dern) believes he has won a million-dollar prize but has to travel from his home in Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska in order to claim it? After he’s started off walking several times his long-suffering son picks him up (in his own truck, which he’s no longer supposed to drive) and takes him there.

            This film struck a chold with me because I used to work with people with learning difficulties, who often used to receive these kinds of scam letters. They would bring them into the office to ask me what to do about them, and I would have to tell them they weren’t real.


          • Straight Story was the film I had in mind when I included lawnmowers in my list of motorised land-based vehicles, fb. A lovely film.

            The Motorcycle Diaries was another non-car film I remember getting on well with.

          • Sorry Chris, only noticed the lawnmower mention after I’d posted and I’ve always liked the non typical Lynch films (SS, Elephant Man, Eraserhead) better than the others

  6. C’était un Rendezvous, Claude Lelouche’s red-light running, footpath-skimming and unsanctioned 1976 race around the Paris Périphérique at 5:30am in a Mercedes 450 SEL 6.9.

    Bullitt for the V8’s and the Schrifin soundtrack.

    • I thought of that one also but I couldn’t recall it’s title. I saw it when it first was released and couldn’t believe it, it made Bullitt et al look amateurish. Just unbelievable ‘street racing’ footage, it looks like the car’s speed never fell below 100MPH+ all the while negotiating other traffic, busses, pedestrians and various road impediments. If you love Paris, you should definitely find this film,
      I just checked youtube, it’s there.

      then watch this one also, same subject,

      • Someone did an analysis of the actual speeds somewhere on the internet, they aren’t as high as the film suggests because the camera was mounted quite low but he was still moving extremely quickly and illegally. If I recall correctly, the soundtrack was dubbed on later, the sound is of Lalouche’s other car, a Ferrari 275 GTB, rather than the Mercedes, because the original motor recording wasn’t thought to be exciting enough. They did match the gear changes nearly exactly though. Certainly the combination of soundtrack and image makes the film a classic.

        • Bizarrely the Ferrari 275 GTB is my favourite ever car and I did actually see (and hear) one on one of the streets that run parallel with Oxford St in London many moons ago. Needless to say my jaw hit the floor !

  7. I keep thinking of the scene with all the minis in The Italian Job but that’s hardly the theme of the film.
    I’ll push things a bit by suggesting Taxi Tehran.

    It’s a 2015 film by Iranian director Jafar Panahi whose government threatened him with imprisonment and banned him from making films for 20 years. In response, he made This Is Not a Film in 2011.
    Or rather he didn’t. because that one isn’t a film. It’s just some footage of him under house arrest (flat arrest) waiting for the results of his appeal against the sentence and talking to the camera, in part about the film he would be making. If he was making one. Filmed partly on a phone it was smuggled out of the country on a memory stick.

    Taxi Tehran (also known as Taxi) is a bit more elaborate as he drives a taxi with three “hidden” cameras around the city picking up various people who may be acting a script or may just be chatting to him. He refuses to take any money for this.
    One customer is his niece who he gives advice to about making a film for her school project. Another is a human rights lawyer who talks about another current case and the problems it is causing.

    This probably doesn’t sound anything like as riveting as it turns out to be. I loved it. In fact I want to see it again now.

  8. Not exactly a scintillating contribution to the discussion, but I was interested to realise that my basic lack of interest in cars feeds into a lack of interest in car-based films – I honestly can’t think of any that I’ve seen, let alone enjoyed.

    • Really? I’m no petrolhead – much to my son’s frustration – but, as with other areas of life, it’s not the size/shape/colour of the instrument, it’s what the director does with it that provides the excitement/fun/satisfaction…..

  9. Getting on your 125cc bike and proving (to the satisfaction of the Tory shites) that free enterprise really can pay – wolfman and the clown hold up buses in the wilds of Scotland!

    Restless Natives – with a soundtrack by Big Country (that either adds to the charm or doesn’t destroy the charm – depending on your ability to enjoy Big Country).

  10. Think I love all the films I know here. The Hitcher and Wages of Fear are great. As is Mad Max 1 & 2. I’ll go for wreckers of The Cars that Ate Paris – an early Peter Weir film. I’ll also add Night on Earth.

  11. I would have started “In no particular order” but Mad Max The Road Warrior is my favorite. I also like Death Proof – that little-known oddity from Quentin Tarantino and La Salaire de la Peur, a 1953 black and white film I first saw sometime in the 80s. There’s a fire at an oil well in a remote area of Spain and the only way to extinguish it is with nitroglycerin. They can’t get any of the guys from the oil company to take the risk so they commandeer four men from the village with nothing to lose but their lives to drive 300 harrowing miles in trucks stacked with jerry cans of the stuff. It’s one of those films where you’re on the edge of your seat every single second as they navigate crappy mountain passes and rickety wooden bridges, knowing a sudden jolt would cause a massive explosion. I won’t give you any more spoilers – you have to see it for yourself, especially the very end.

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