The ‘60s Best Film Chases



December 10, 2013

High speed, fearless drivers and daring automotive stunts have long been the hallmark of every great action movie. Here’s a look back at where the tradition really got going. Check out the cars (and one great motorcycle) from five of the most memorable movie chase scenes from the 1960s.

The Great Escape

The coolest action sequence of this iconic 1963 film happens when WWII POW “Cooler King” Hilts (played by Steve McQueen) tries to evade his Nazi captors on a German military motorcycle. Making a bid for the Swiss border, he leaps the bike over a six-foot barbed-wire fence — pretty spectacular stuff back in the day. The motorcycle was actually a Triumph TR-6 Trophy 650CC made to look like a German-made BMW. Although McQueen was a skilled rider, driver and racer, the studio insisted using a stuntman named Bud Ekins who also doubled for McQueen behind the wheel of the Mustang GT in Bullitt five years later.


Goldfinger

The third film in the James Bond series introduced a new car for 007 — an Aston Martin DB5 tricked out with all sorts of super cool secret agent gadgetry. In the most memorable chase sequence from this 1964 film, Bond uses everything from smokescreens to the car’s iconic ejection seat to elude Goldfinger’s henchmen who, it should be noted, are all driving 1956 model Mercedes-Benz 220s.        


Bullitt

No computer-generated imagery here and 45 years later the movie still stands up. This 10-minute sequence filmed in 1968 with hand-held cameras on the hilly streets of San Francisco is today known as “the granddaddy of all car chases.” In it, police lieutenant Frank Bullitt (Steve McQueen) drives a Highland Green, 1968 four-speed Ford Mustang Fastback GT; the bad guys, a 1968 four-speed Dodge Charger 440 R/T. 


The Love Bug

Herbie, the lovable little bug that later spawned more torturous remakes and sequels than John J. Rambo, wasn’t running from anybody in this original 1968 film by Walt Disney, but he and his washed-up driver Jim Douglas (played by Dean Jones) were definitely chasing something — respect. As the story goes, Disney chose the pearl-white Volkswagen Beetle to be the movie’s star after “auditioning” a dozen other makes and models, including Volvos, MGs and Toyotas. Supposedly, the Beetle was the only car in the lineup that prompted the crew to “reach out and pet it.”                      


The Italian Job

The original 1969 film that made the Mini Cooper even more iconic that it already was,The Italian Job is one of the best motoring films of all time. In the movie’s climatic car chase, three little Cooper S’s (painted red, white and blue and loaded with 4 million in Chinese gold) navigate the crowded streets of Turin, Italy. Up and down steps and through sewer pipes, the gang led by mobster Charlie Croker (played by Michael Caine) even does a lap around Fiat’s famous Lingotto factory rooftop test track.     


Comments

  1. Anna Maria Thoma Thunderbolt Ga.

    Great videos -

  2. Dave Wooten United States

    Great choices! Also, "Ronin"...

  3. Brian Adams Reno, NV

    What, no "The French Connection"? From Wikipedia: "The film is often cited as containing one of the greatest car chase sequences in movie history. The chase involves Popeye commandeering a civilian's car (a 1971 Pontiac LeMans) and then frantically chasing an elevated train, on which a hitman is trying to escape. The scene was filmed in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn roughly running under the BMT West End Line ..."

  4. Richard Coldham Canada

    Agree with French Connection, but this was 60's car chases and that was 1971. Excellent choices

  5. derwood FallsChurch, VA

    You should throw in "The Seven-Ups" with Roy Schieder... heck of a sudden stop to the chase scene...

  6. Ken Frederick United States

    Bullitt's Mustang was a 1967, not 1968.

  7. Charles C Grillo Denver CO

    nothing EVER beats THE YELLOW ROLLS ROYCE when you own a Fantastic Silver Wraith SiDenca Deville-- Black and yellow-------- Best Movie more fun in the last 38 year with that one-- and looking forward to another 38 years as well

  8. Brian Adams Reno, NV

    Richard, You nailed it, my oversight. It also explains why "Vanishing Point" and certain demolition derbies like "The Blues Brothers" among others were not here.

  9. T NJ

    Greatest Car Chase Ever...

  10. Rick stewartt Seattle

    How do I watch videos

  11. George Atlanta

    What about Smokey and the Bandit or Cannonball Run, bot with Burt Reynolds and both better than most other films.

  12. RS Stoneburner Florida

    Want to see bullitt video

  13. Backseat a Driver Vancouver, BC

    Sorry Ken, but the 'Stang was without doubt a 1968. I had a '68 GT. THE WAY YOU TELL IS THAT THE SIDE SCOOPS ON THE '67 had two clusters of fake fins in front of them, while the '68 had nothing in front of the side scoops.

  14. Dan McPeek Arizona

    According to numerous sources, the Mustang was, in fact, as the text states, a 1968 fastback 390 GT, There were two used; one was wrecked.

  15. David Detroit

    Just my two cents worth, but "To live and die in LA" has a awesome car chase scene.

  16. Karl Essig Anacortes, Washington

    Thank Bruce Kessler for creating many of the chase scenes. Bruce was an amateur sports car and Formula lll racer .in the 50's

  17. jesse alaska

    STEVE MCQUEEN WOULD ONLY DRIVE THE MAIN MUSTANG WITH A 427 BB CHEVY. AFTER THE FILM IT DIS APPEARED. THERE WAS AN ARTICLE IN HOT ROD MAGAZINE YEARS AGO ABOUT IT.

  18. Proud Male Arvada

    They included both Herbie and the Mini Cooper, neither of which caused more than a "mini" impact. How about Easy Rider? It had some great riding scenes, including the unfortunate ending. The Goldfinger car chase was alright, but since we moved beyond cars with the Great Escape jump, how about the far more thrilling boat chase in Thunderball? The chase started underwater, moved to the surface including involvement from the U S Navy, then had an end crash equal to the Vanishing Point race. Finally, the genre of great chase scenes goes back at least as far as Robert Mitchium's stellar efforts in Thunder Road (jumped the start of the 60's by coming out in 68.