Leaving Jerry Bruckheimer’s glimmering remake in the dust, the original Gone in 60 Seconds is available in high definition for the first time in the UK. Featuring one of cinemas greatest car chases, the 1974 version follows top car thief Pace (H.B. Halicki) and his crew as they find themselves entangled in a drug smuggling plot. Caught in the underworld of stealing and selling on sought after vehicles, Pace must lead his guys to freedom as the police close in.
The climatic chase sequence is a sight to behold, a fast and furious 40 minutes of blistering action, which sees 93 vehicles destroyed in electrifying style. H.B. Halicki wrote, directed, produced and starred in the movie. I say wrote, there was no official script for the film and much of what transpired was either ad-libbed or improvised as they went along. It’s a telling fact in all but the exhilarating action sequences, with corny dialogue and weak performances hampering the production.
To keep costs down Halicki hired friends and family to star in the film, which would explain why most of the characters are so easily forgotten. The one character that leaves a lasting impression is Eleanor, the 1973 Mustang that steals every scene she appears in. Eleanor reprised her role in the 2000 remake, acting Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie off the screen in high-octane fashion.
Halicki spent most of his budget on the climatic chase sequence, buying police cars, fire trucks and even a garbage truck in auction, just so that he could destroy them all on film. Taking place through five cities, the final pursuit is the longest car chase in movie history. Halicki owned almost every vehicle seen on screen and some of the stunts proved near fatal. One driver was almost crushed by the siren of his police car when the roof caved in, and shooting was stopped when Halicki was injured in a 100 mph highway crash involving Eleanor and a light pole.
Halicki’s passion for stunt driving and fast cars is encapsulated in the mesmerising final act, a stunning action sequence regarded by many critics as the greatest car chase of all time. Much of what precedes it is as forgettable as the lacklustre remake, but car enthusiasts and speed freaks will find plenty to enjoy in the home straight. Halicki died in 1989 on the set of a planned sequel, after a stunt involving a water tower went catastrophically wrong. His memory will live on in the features packed DVD and Blu-Ray release, which features a 45-minute documentary, called ‘Life & Times of H.B. Halicki’.
Available for the first time in glorious high definition, cult favourite Gone in 60 Seconds puts the peddle to the metal in spectacular fashion. Ask any racer, any real racer. It doesn’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile. Winning’s winning. H.B. Halicki was a winner in life and Gone in 60 Seconds is his cinematic legacy. AW