Herbie Rides Again

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Herbie Rides Again
Ridesagain.jpeg
Directed by Robert Stevenson
Produced by Bill Walsh
Screenplay by Bill Walsh
Story by Gordon Buford
Based on Characters
by Gordon Buford
Starring Helen Hayes
Ken Berry
Stefanie Powers
Keenan Wynn
John McIntire
Music by George Bruns
Cinematography Frank Phillips
Edited by Cotton Warburton
Production
company
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • June 6, 1974 (1974-06-06)
Running time
88 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $38,229,000[1]

Herbie Rides Again is a 1974 American comedy film and a sequel to The Love Bug, released six years earlier, and the second installment of the Herbie franchise made by Walt Disney Productions starring an anthropomorphic (and quite autonomous) 1963 Volkswagen racing Beetle named Herbie. The movie starred Helen Hayes, Stefanie Powers, Ken Berry, and Keenan Wynn reprising his villainous role as Alonzo Hawk (originated in the films The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber).

Herbie Rides Again was followed by two more theatrical sequels Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo and Herbie Goes Bananas. A later theatrical sequel, Herbie: Fully Loaded was released in 2005.

The title is referenced in the trailer for the 1975 British comedy film Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Plot[edit]

Notorious real estate magnate and demolition baron Alonzo Hawk (Keenan Wynn) is ready to build his newest indoor shopping center, the 130-story Hawk Plaza in San Francisco. His only obstacle is the 1892 firehouse inhabited by "Grandma" Steinmetz (Helen Hayes), widow of its former owner, Fire Captain Steinmetz, and aunt of mechanic Tennessee Steinmetz; her displaced neighbor, flight attendant Nicole Harris (Stefanie Powers); and their sentient machines: a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle known as Herbie, "the Love Bug;" an early 20th-century orchestrion that plays on its own; and a retired cable car from the defunct Clay Street Line, known as "Old No. 22." Mrs. Steinmetz explains that Tennessee has gone to Tibet to visit his ailing philosophy teacher, while Herbie's former owner, Jim Douglas, has gone to Europe. She also explains that Herbie found Old No. 22 on a vacant lot whose owners were using it as a chicken house. All the while, Mr. Barnsdorf, the construction boss, is growing impatient with Hawk's alleged indecision, reminding him that the whole thing is costing him $80,000 a day (equal to $396977 today).

Hawk has made numerous attempts at evicting Mrs. Steinmetz, intending to imprison her in a retirement home of his own making; but Hawk's lawyers have been unsuccessful in these attempts, and when his lawyer nephew Willoughby Whitfield (Ken Berry) comes to visit him, Hawk sends him to Mrs. Steinmetz in their stead. Having met the firehouse's inhabitants, Willoughby becomes disillusioned and decides to return home to Missouri. Nicole also punches Willoughby in the face upon learning he works for Hawk. She offers him a ride in Herbie, and Herbie goes berserk after Willoughby insults him twice, eventually taking the two to a car version of a joust tournament, which Herbie wins over a character named "The Red Knight" (strongly resembling retired racer Peter Thorndyke from the previous film), earning Willoughby a whopping $3.00 (equal to $14.89 today). The two then go to lunch, but Nicole tells Willboughy an uninterrupted monologue on all the horrible things Hawk has done, including building a parking garage on the very same lot where Joe DiMaggio and his brothers learned to play baseball. Willoughby is upset about this and accidentally tells her that Hawk is his uncle, which enrages Nicole. She hits him with a broiled lobster in response, sending him splashing into the waters of Fisherman's Wharf below.

Having lost him, Hawk attempts to capture Herbie; but when Hawk insults him, Herbie causes a series of traffic collisions and jams (even going as far as barging into a police car, which causes a chain reaction of wrecks) and discards Hawk at his own office door, where Hawk orders his subordinates to capture Herbie again, followed by a policeman giving Hawk several tickets for traffic offenses. While Herbie takes Mrs. Steinmetz to market, they are chased by Hawk's men; whereupon Herbie makes several daring escapes culminating in travel through the 1909 landmark Sheraton Palace Hotel and along a suspension cable on the Golden Gate Bridge, leaving Mrs. Steinmetz unfazed (and unaware) of his activity throughout. Hawk's secretary catches sight of Herbie on the bridge, but Hawk assumes she's getting hysterical and orders her to take two aspirins and lie down.

Willoughby having decided to go home in disguise, he is convinced by Nicole to stay after she hears him criticize his uncle while talking to his mother on the telephone. Mrs. Steinmetz asks Nicole and Willoughby to pick up some groceries for her, and then suggests that they ought to drive to the beach. Nicole insists that they will just go and get some broccoli, which Willoughby later confesses he doesn't like, but Herbie still goes to the beach as a result of Hawk's personal chauffeur chasing him, leading Nicole to think that Mrs. Steinmetz talked him into doing it.

On their return to the firehouse, they find that every item of furniture has been removed by Hawk; whereupon Mrs. Steinmetz, Willoughby, Nicole, and Herbie track the theft to a warehouse. The four break in and recover Steinmetz's belongings, piling them all into "No. 22" with Mrs. Steinmetz riding along, while Nicole and Willoughby follow in Herbie. An inebriated old-timer named Judson (John McIntire) joins Mrs Steinmetz aboard "No. 22," thinking himself on a public cable car. Hawk pursues, but Herbie distracts him and later rescues Mrs. Steinmetz and Judson from a potential crash after "No. 22" rolls down a hill (as well as into a building during a special dinner party) by getting Willoughby close enough so that he can jump aboard and use the handbrake. During this time, Mrs. Steinmetz becomes enamored with Judson (while being entirely oblivious to the fact the car is rolling down the hill).

Hawk thereafter recruits an independent demolition agent named Loostgarten (Chuck McCann); while Mrs Steinmetz decides to confront Hawk herself. Accompanied by Willoughby in spite of Nicole telling him not to let her do this, she drives Herbie onto the window-cleaning machine of Hawk’s skyscraper to reach his 28th-floor office (after Hawk fired his window cleaner), where Mrs. Steinmetz overhears a telephoned conversation with Loostgarten about the deal to demolish the firehouse. She activates the window cleaning machine to fill the office with foam and water. This done, Herbie pursues Hawk around the building's perimeter (in response to Hawk throwing an ashtray at him) - even following him outside onto a ledge - until Mrs Steinmetz orders him to desist by mentioning a used car lot, and saying she would have to hate to call the used car man, Mr. Honest Al.

Disguising his voice to resemble his uncle's, Willoughby directs Loostgarten to demolish Hawk's own house. Loostgarten then telephones Hawk to confirm the demolition, waking Hawk from several nightmares showing himself at the mercy of Herbie; whereupon Hawk gives confirmation, but realizes too late that he has ordered demolition of his own residence, and subsequently attacks Loostgarten after a portion of his house is collapsed from a wrecking ball.

In the morning, Hawk calls a truce with Mrs. Steinmetz (as well as plant a phony story in the newspaper with the headline "HAWK GIVES UP"!), and thinking him to be sincere, Willoughby and Nicole go for dinner (to the same restaurant they were before when Nicole hit Willoughby with the broiled lobster), while Mrs. Steinmetz invites Judson to a similar meeting; in spite of this, Hawk violates the truce by sending earthmovers to crush the firehouse and its inhabitants, prompting Herbie to go in search of Nicole and Willoughby. In the absence of Herbie, the only means of defense is an antique fire hose, which Judson uses against the earthmovers, until it explodes and sprays all over him.

Having obtained Nicole and Willoughby, Herbie rounds up several other Volkswagen Beetles from various places in the city (some of which leave their owners behind), and comes after Hawk and his men as an army and ruin his scheme, taking advantage of Hawk's irrational fear of Herbie. Hawk is pursued from the grounds by Herbie, and after nearly getting knocked down by a police car, Hawk is arrested after telling his bizarre tale of an army of Beetles chasing him. Later, Nicole and Willoughby are married, and ride Herbie through an arch formed by his new Volkswagen Beetle friends.

Cast[edit]

Production notes[edit]

Cast[edit]

Fritz Feld, who appears as the Maitre d', and Vito Scotti, who plays the Italian cab driver, also appear in the sequel Herbie Goes Bananas as crewmen of the ship Sun Princess. Dan Tobin, Raymond Bailey, Iggie Wolfington, Robert S. Carson, and John Zaremba played Hawk's attorneys; Disney regular Norman Grabowski played "Security guard #2;" John Myhers played the San Francisco's Office of the President announcer; and Alan Carney played a judge at the Chicken Tournament.

Deleted scenes[edit]

The GAF View-Master reel set for the film shows a still from a deleted sequence where one of Hawk's nightmares has him about to be treated by a pair of white VW Beetle doctors, who decide to "take his carburetor out and have a look at it". As they approach Hawk, he is woken by Loostgarten.

Vehicles[edit]

The Herbies used for the film consisted both of 1963 and 1965 Beetles.

The included 1965 models make for some bad continuity errors as the windows are noticeably larger on the 1965 cars. This was to become worse in subsequent Herbie films as even later model cars were included.

One of the VW Beetles used in the deleted nightmare sequence (see above) was first used in The Love Bug as a stunt car during the El Dorado race (also used for interior filming). Many years after Herbie Rides Again, the car's red cross, mechanical arms, and eyeball headlights were removed and restored to former appearance.

"World's Highest Building"[edit]

"Hawk Plaza" is shown as a shining, twin-tower 130-story San Francisco skyscraper touted as "The World's Highest Building". Coincidentally, The Towering Inferno, released six months later, featured "The Glass Tower," a shining, single-tower 138-story San Francisco skyscraper touted as "The Tallest Building in the World." In actuality, New York's twin towers of the World Trade Center, "The Tallest Buildings in the World" had officially opened in 1973, and Chicago's 108-story Sears Tower claimed that title in May 1974, just one month before Herbie Rides Again was released.

Release[edit]

Box office[edit]

Herbie Rides Again opened on June 6, 1974 in 2,178 theaters and 1,761 drive-in theaters. The film grossed $38,229,000 at the domestic box office, while accumulating $17,500,000 in theatrical rentals,[2] adding a total of $55,729,000.

Video releases[edit]

Herbie Rides Again was released on VHS on October 15, 1981, re-released on November 6, 1985, January 5, 1992, October 28, 1994 and September 16, 1997. It was first released on DVD in Region 1 on May 4, 2004 and was re-released as a 2-DVD double feature set along with Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo on April 26, 2009. On September 2, 2012, Herbie Rides Again was re-released on DVD as part of Herbie: 4-Movie Collection along with The Love Bug, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo and Herbie Goes Bananas. The film was released on Blu-ray Disc on December 16, 2014 as a Disney Movie Club exclusive title.

Reception[edit]

Herbie Rides Again has received mostly positive reviews, scoring an 80% at Rotten Tomatoes.com.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Box Office Information for Herbie Rides Again". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
  2. ^ "All-time Film Rental Champs", Variety, 7 January 1976 p 20
  3. ^ "Herbie Rides Again at Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 17 January 17. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)

External links[edit]