Gone in 60 Seconds (1974 film)

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Gone in 60 Seconds
Gone in sixty seconds 1974 movie poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by H. B. Halicki
Produced by H. B. Halicki
Written by H. B. Halicki
Starring H. B. Halicki
Eleanor
Marion Busia
Jerry Daugirda
James McIntyre
George Cole
Ronald Halicki
Markos Kotsikos
Music by Ronald Halicki
Philip Kachaturian
Cinematography Jack Vacek.
Edited by Warner E. Leighton
Distributed by H.B. Halicki Junkyard and Mercantile Company
Release date(s)
  • July 28, 1974 (1974-07-28) (United States)
Running time 105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $150,000[1]
Box office $40 million

Gone in 60 Seconds is a 1974 American action film written, directed, produced by, and starring H.B. "Toby" Halicki. It centers on a group of car thieves and the 48 cars they must steal in a matter of days. The film is famous for having wrecked and destroyed 93 cars in a 40-minute car chase scene. This film is the basis for the eponymous 2000 remake starring Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie.

Plot[edit]

Maindrian Pace (H.B. "Toby" Halicki) is a respectable insurance investigator who runs an automobile chop shop in Long Beach, California. However, he is also the leader of a professional car theft ring, who steal and re-sell stolen cars, utilizing the VIN numbers, engines, parts, and details (such as parking decals and bumper stickers) sourced from legitimately-purchased wrecks. As an insurance industry insider, Pace does have one small idiosyncrasy: All vehicles stolen must be insured.

Pace is approached by a South American drug lord who offers $400,000 in exchange for the theft of 48 specific vehicles, to be delivered to the Long Beach docks within five days. The list includes limousines, semi-trailer trucks, vintage cars, and exotics; rendering the order difficult to fill within the time limit. Nevertheless, Pace is confident that the order can be filled.

Mapping out a basic strategy, the thieves scout out their vehicular targets; all of which have been given female names. The plan goes smoothly - with even some of the more eclectic vehicles acquired with relative ease - but obstacles mount. Chief of these difficulties is a yellow, 1973 Ford Mustang, code named "Eleanor." The first "Eleanor" they come across is occupied; the second car results in a chase as its drunken owner pursues Pace. A third Eleanor is acquired seemingly without issue.

Further tension enters into the picture when a white Cadillac - stolen as part of the order - is found to contain several kilos of heroin stashed in its trunk. Pace's brother-in-law, Eugene, sees the heroin as a profitable side business; Pace disagrees, viewing the heroin as a threat to the security of the operation. Against Eugene's vehement protests, Pace does not relinquish the heroin, and has the Cadillac and its contents burned at a remote location - unbeknownst to Eugene.

The theft of all 48 vehicles is soon completed, but the third "Eleanor" is discovered to be uninsured within hours of delivery to the docks. After pleas from fiancée Pumpkin Chase, Pace agrees to return it - only because he is aware of a fourth match for Eleanor at the International Towers in Long Beach. At the same time, Eugene learns of the Cadillac's fate and attempts to start a brawl; ultimately leaving the office in a rage.

Pace prepares to steal the fourth "Eleanor," unaware that Eugene has anonymously tipped off the police. As a result of the tip-off, two detectives (Butch Stockton and Phil Woods) in an unmarked Mercury corner the disguised Pace as he exits the International Towers. A 34-minute car chase (in which 93 vehicles are destroyed) ensues, covering 6 California cities from Long Beach to Carson. Eluding the police with speed and driving skill, Pace keeps from being caught by police - but not without causing unrepairable damage to the car.

Pace is now desperate; police blockades and surveillance surround the areas. However, Pace spots another "Eleanor" Mustang pulling into a car wash. Realizing an opportunity, Pace drives the abused Mustang up to the wash entrance, leaves it with the staff, and then dupes the owner of the fifth Mustang (under the guise of being the manager of the car wash). After a quick license plate swap and removal of his disguise, he subsequently leaves the car wash with the intact Mustang.

Meanwhile, the duped owner is inquiring with the manager of the car wash as to the whereabouts of her Mustang - and faints at the sight of the wrecked car as it exits the wash bay. The police, spotting the wrecked Mustang, quickly descend upon the scene to arrest the manager of the car wash, who matches the description of Pace.

The film ends as Pace clears a police roadblock, driving the fifth Eleanor.

Production[edit]

Gone in 60 Seconds is classified as an independent film. H. B. Halicki wrote, starred, directed, produced and even did his own stuntwork in the film. In a contemporary context, the portions of the film preceding the chase sequences are generally seen as on par with a period B-film. Halicki employed family and friends (instead of professional actors) to play parts in his movie to keep the budget low. The characters depicted as being members of the emergency services were actual police officers, firemen, or paramedics. The then-mayor of Carson, California, Sak Yamamoto, also appears as himself.

All of the police cars damaged in the film, the garbage truck that overturns, three fire trucks (including two waiting for the cars to clear, and another one stopping to put out a fire) were bought at city auction by Halicki in 1972, for an average price of $200 each. Everything sat in an empty lot for over a year until production began in 1973. Ironically, the fire trucks seen on the Vincent Thomas Bridge during the main chase were real Long Beach FD units on their way to an actual emergency call. The "crash" staged for the film blocked both lanes, preventing the trucks from proceeding until the cars were cleared. Halicki asked the camera crew to film them in case he found a place and time to fit the shots into the movie.

There was no official script, apart from several pages outlining main dialog sequences. Much of the action/dialog was improvised and ad-libbed by the cast and crew as they went along. This caused many problems for the editor, Warner E. Leighton, who never knew what footage was being dumped on him or where in the movie it belonged. In the DVD audio commentary, he described the script for the construction site scenes of the main pursuit as a piece of cardboard with a circle on it. Halicki pointed at it and said, "That's the dust bowl. We went around it twice. There's your script."

The pursuit is the longest car chase (40 minutes) in movie history and takes Pace through five cities as he attempts to lose police. Nearly every civilian vehicle seen in close proximity to the main chase (especially in downtown Long Beach) was owned by Halicki. This resulted in several of their being seen multiple times in the 40-minute sequence. The intact "Eleanor" used for beauty shots - in addition to the white Ford utilized by Pace and Stanley - are seen parked amongst the rows of cars in a few Long Beach sequences.

Locations[edit]

The workshop scenes at Chase Research were filmed at Halicki's real-life workshop. Occasionally, filming would stop for several days so he could repair cars to earn money and continue production.

Vehicles[edit]

  • 1-Baker-11, the unmarked gray Long Beach Police Department sedan that initiates the climactic pursuit is a 1971 Mercury Montego.[2]
  • Parnelli Jones still owns his Big Oly Ford Bronco and often brings it out to car shows.[citation needed]

Stunts[edit]

The car that flips during the earlier night-time chase in Torrance was overturned by six men lifting it up from one side. The film was later skip-framed to create the desired effect.

The garbage truck that overturns was pulled by cables attached to two tow trucks. The cables attached to the top of the truck are clearly visible as it topples.

To achieve the effect of cars sliding into each other at Moran Cadillac, an oil slick was placed under the tires of the first car to assist it in sliding. According to the commentary track on the DVD, the film company owned the first two Cadillacs in the row; the remainder were the dealer's. When it came time to do the stunt, the oil trick worked too well - many of the agency's own Cadillacs were badly damaged. Halicki had to purchase all of them.

The jump scene at the end of the chase is notable and set the standards for a number of subsequent pictures. Acting as the climax to the lengthy chase sequence, the "Eleanor" jump managed to achieve a height of 30' over a 128' distance, a feat rarely attempted today without CGI or a gas-driven catapult (as used to jump the General Lee in the 2000 film remake of The Dukes of Hazzard).

Halicki compacted ten vertebrae performing this jump. The injury was not serious, although director of photography Jack Vacek claims that Halicki never walked the same again.

Real accidents[edit]

In one scene at the construction area, a patrol car roars up a hill in pursuit and overturns. This was not planned; the driver inside was nearly crushed when the siren "can" on the roof caved the roof in. The scene was left in the finished film.

J.C. Agajanian Jr., who plays a detective in the roadblock sequence at Torrance Mazda Agency, was almost killed when Halicki missed his mark, hitting one of the unmarked Plymouth Belvedere[3] patrol cars, sending it careening towards Agajanian, who missed it by quick reflexes and luck. The near collision was left in the film and is very apparent.

The scene where "Eleanor" tags a car on the highway and spins into a light pole at 100 mph was a real accident. Halicki was badly hurt and filming was stopped while he recovered. According to people on the set, the first thing Halicki said when he regained consciousness was, "Did we get coverage?" Likewise, the film's opening scene captures a real-life train derailment that was not part of the original shooting script; when Halicki heard about this, he wanted to incorporate it into the film.

General public as extras[edit]

With the exception of a few casted extras, the bulk of the bystanders in the movie are the general public going about their business. This caused several incidents wherein people assumed a real police pursuit was in progress, with many trying to help the accident "victims". For example, in the scene at the Carson Street off-ramp, where the two cars collide after Maindrian drives against traffic, a pedestrian can be seen in the background shouting angrily at the passing police cars for not stopping to help the occupants., and much of the crowd at the gas station where Harold Smith is pulled over after the nighttime Torrance chase were part of a real biker gang, who verbally abused the police officers "arresting" the actor and demanded they leave him alone.

Ronald Halicki, the director's real-life brother who played Corlis Pace in the film, operated the crane that lifted "Jill", the red Challenger, to its fate in the car-crusher at the junkyard.

"In" jokes[edit]

When Maindrian is first telling Atlee about the new contract, a message on the blackboard behind them says, "Sgt. Hawkins called about Vacek case" — a reference to director of photography Jack Vacek. The license plate of the Rolls-Royce outside the airport reads, "HBH," the initials of the film's star/director/writer, H. B. Halicki.

When Pumpkin tells Maindrian that they have to give "Eleanor" back because the car is not insured, Maindrian reads the owner's address from a newspaper: 18511 S. Mariposa Ave, Gardena. This was, in fact, Halicki's home address at the time.

Early in the film, when the boys are stripping down the Challenger, they are conversing about how Atlee became a "professional". Atlee says, "Butch Stockton was a professional and he got caught." Butch Stockton is the driver of 1-Baker-11 in the film.

Cast and crew[edit]

Actor Role
H.B. "Toby" Halicki Maindrian "Vicinski" Pace
Marion Busia Pumpkin Chase
Jerry Daugirda Eugene Chase
James McIntyre Stanley "Sage" Chase
George Cole Atlee Jackson
Ronald Halicki Corlis Pace/The Crane Operator
Markos Kotsikos Uncle Joe Chase
Christopher J.C. Agajanian Himself (the host of Ascot Park)
Gary Bettenhausen Himself (the King Midget racer)
Parnelli Jones Himself (Parnelli Jones Enterprises owner)
Terence H. Winkless Lyle Waggoner's Car Cleaner (Roy's Auto Detail)
Butch Stockton 1-Baker-11 Detective (Driver)
Phil Woods 1-Baker-11 Detective (Passenger)
Wally Burr Male Police Dispatcher
John Halicki Sgt. Hawkins
Hal McClain Himself (Constant Country K-Fox announcer)
Jonathan E. Fricke Himself (Constant Country K-Fox interviewer)
J.C. Agajanian, Jr. Light Blue Unmarked Detective
Sak Yamamoto Himself (City of Carson mayor)
Edward Abrahms Harold Blight Smith
Edward Booker Lowrider
Anthony Cole Lowrider
Michael Cole Lowrider
Mark Cole Lowrider

Home video releases[edit]

In 2000, Denice Shakarian Halicki and her business partner Michael Leone, under the banner Halicki Films, released the 25th anniversary remastered edition on DVD and VHS to American viewers. This special remastered edition contained a completely reworked image, with a newly cleaned up print compared to the grainy, dirty, and unsatisfactory previous version. In May 2005, a Region 2 DVD was released in Europe.

The pre-release version of the movie can be seen (albeit in still frame form) on the 25th Anniversary DVD. By accessing the hidden "Easter Egg", one can watch an older version of the film — possibly a pre-release version — as the first half of the movie has a different order and additional scenes. At this time it is unknown whether this version will ever be released to the public in full form.

In the Speed Channel broadcast of the movie, a documentary, hosted by Denice Halicki, is shown before the beginning of the film. The documentary described the production processes of the movies produced by H.B. Halicki as well as his life.

On October 16, 2012, Denice Halicki and Leone, under the banner Halicki Films, released the Gone in 60 seconds DVD/Blu-ray combo pack. It includes a rare interview with Lee Iacocca.

The 48 cars stolen in the film[edit]

  • Locations seen in film
# Years Automobiles Codes
1 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Marion
2 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Barbara
3 1973 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Lindsey
4 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Dianne
5 1971 Cadillac Fleetwood Seventy-Five Nicole
6 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood Seventy-Five Ruby
7 1972 Lincoln Continental Julie
8 1971 Freightliner WFT 6364 Frances
9 1973 Cadillac Coupe DeVille Mary
10 1972 Mercedes-Benz 450SE Joanne
11 1930 Hudson Motor Car Company Beverly
12 1974 Cadillac Coupe DeVille Patricia
13 1974 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Ruth
14 1927 Citroën B14 Conduite Elizabeth
15 1971 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Terri
16 1924 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Eileen
17 1972 Plymouth Barracuda Susan
18 1970 Jaguar E-Type Claudia
19 1959 Rolls-Royce Phantom V Rosie
20 1970 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Maria
21 1972 Ferrari Daytona 365 GTB/4 Sharon
22 1970 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Kathy
23 1953 Chrysler Coupe Elegance Alice
24 1973 Cadillac Fleetwood Station Wagon Leona
25 1971 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Kelly
26 1971 Cadillac Eldorado Nancy
27 1973 Jensen Interceptor Betty
28 1971 Citroën SM Patti
29 1962 Ferrari 340 America Judy
30 1966 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II Carey
31 1966 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III Jackie
32 1973 Cadillac Eldorado Laurie
33 1972 Maserati Ghibli Coupe Sandy
34 1971 Chevrolet Vega Christy
35 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Michelle
36 1967 Lamborghini Miura Tracy
37 1969 De Tomaso Mangusta Marilyn
38 1971 De Tomaso Pantera Maxine
39 1968 Intermeccanica Italia GFX Lorna
40 1971 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Jean
41 1949 Ferrari V12 Paula
42 1966 Lotus Europa S1 Renee
43 1974 Manta Mirage Annie
44 1971 Ford "Big Oly" Bronco Janet
45 1972 Stutz Blackhawk Karen
46 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Dorothy
47 1973 Stutz Blackhawk Doris
48 1973 Ford Mustang "Eleanor"

Post-Gone in 60 Seconds[edit]

Marriage, Gone in 60 Seconds 2 and death[edit]

Halicki was introduced to Denice Shakarian in 1983, and in 1986, they were engaged. The couple lived in Southern California and married on May 11, 1989, in Dunkirk, New York.

On June 9, 1989, Halicki and Denice began to shoot Gone in 60 Seconds 2, which was unrelated to his 1974 film. Halicki wanted a new and bigger story about a professional international thief who unwittingly becomes the central figure in a cross-continental duel-to-the-death to locate a secret item and steal it before it falls into the clutches of the most feared man alive.

On August 20, 1989, while filming in Dunkirk and Buffalo, New York, Halicki was preparing for the most dramatic stunt sequence in the film, during which a 160-foot-tall (49 m) water tower would suddenly topple. The stunt went wrong when a cable attached to the tower snapped, shearing off a telephone pole that killed him on impact.

In light of the Gone in 60 Seconds 2 project, and his recent marriage, Halicki's estate faced a number of legal challenges from 1990 to 1994. After seven trials, in 1994, the court released Halicki's films and the associated copyrights to his widow Denice, but she was forced to sell the car and toy collection to pay the legal fees.

Denice plans on finishing her late husband's dream and will make a new Gone in 60 Seconds 2 based on the 1989 unfinished film.

Legacy and remake[edit]

In 2000, Denice kept Halicki's legacy alive by licensing some of her rights and producing the Gone in Sixty Seconds 2000 remake along with Touchstone Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer.

In its opening weekend, the remake grossed $25,336,048 from 3,006 U.S. theaters, leading all films that weekend. By the end of the film's theatrical run, it had grossed $101,648,571 domestically and $135,553,728 internationally, comprising a total gross revenue for the film of $237,202,299 worldwide.[4]

The popularity of the remake revived that of "Eleanor" (now a 1967 Ford Mustang, not a 1973 model as in the original). A number of car shops started to produce Eleanor-tagged replicas, requiring Denice again to resort to legal action to protect her trademark and copyrights to the Eleanor car character's image. In 2008, she won a case against Carroll Shelby, who had been selling Eleanor replicas without her consent. A 2008 appeals court ruled that "Eleanor" and its likeness are copyrighted.

References[edit]

External links[edit]