Herbie Rides Again

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Herbie Rides Again
Directed byRobert Stevenson
Screenplay byBill Walsh
Story byGordon Buford
Based onCharacters
by Gordon Buford
Produced byBill Walsh
StarringHelen Hayes
Ken Berry
Stefanie Powers
Keenan Wynn
John McIntire
CinematographyFrank V. Phillips
Edited byCotton Warburton
Music byGeorge Bruns
Distributed byBuena Vista Distribution
Release date
  • June 6, 1974 (1974-06-06)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$38,229,000 (US/Canada gross)[1]
$30.8 million (worldwide rentals)

Herbie Rides Again is a 1974 American comedy film and the second installment of The Love Bug film series made by Walt Disney Productions starring an anthropomorphic (and quite autonomous) 1963 Volkswagen racing Beetle named Herbie. The movie was directed by Robert Stevenson, produced by Bill Walsh and starred Helen Hayes, Stefanie Powers, Ken Berry, and Keenan Wynn reprising his villainous role as Alonzo P. Hawk (originated in the films The Absent-Minded Professor and Son of Flubber starring Fred MacMurray as Professor Ned Brainard).

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.


Notorious real estate magnate and demolition baron Alonzo P. Hawk (Keenan Wynn) is ready to build his newest office building, 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. Hawk's numerous attempts at evicting Mrs. Steinmetz have been unsuccessful, while the construction workers are growing impatient with Hawk's alleged indecision, reminding him that the whole thing is costing him $80,000 a day. Therefore, when Hawk's lawyer nephew Willoughby Whitfield (Ken Berry) comes to visit him, Hawk sends him to Mrs. Steinmetz.

Mrs. Steinmetz takes a liking to Willoughby due to his youthful looks and good manners, in contrast to Hawk's henchmen. She introduces him to Herbie the Love Bug (left in her custody while Tennessee and owner Jim Douglas are traveling abroad) as well as two other sentient machines: an early 20th-century orchestrion that plays on its own; and Old No. 22, a retired cable car. Steinmetz's neighbor Nicole (Stefanie Powers) punches him in the face due to his working for Hawk, but then tries to make up to him by offering him a ride in Herbie. Herbie goes berserk after Willoughby insults him twice, eventually taking the two to a car version of a joust tournament, which Herbie wins. Later at a restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf, Nicole surprises Willboughy by telling him 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 boiled lobster in response, sending him splashing into the water below. Having become disillusioned towards his uncle, Willoughby decides to sever all his ties with Hawk. He initially tries to go home in disguise, but is convinced by Nicole to stay after she hears him criticize his uncle while talking to his mother on the telephone.

Meanwhile, Hawk decides to take it upon himself to drive Mrs. Steinmetz out, starting with stealing Herbie. Hawk is initially successful with his hotwiring skills, but while driving him on the street, Hawk insults the car, who retaliates by causing a series of traffic collisions and jams and discards Hawk at his own office door. Later, while Herbie takes Mrs. Steinmetz to market, they are chased by Hawk's men; whereupon Herbie makes several daring escapes culminating in traveling through the 1909 landmark Sheraton Palace Hotel and along a suspension cable on the Golden Gate Bridge, leaving Mrs. Steinmetz oblivious to his activity throughout.

Mrs. Steinmetz asks Nicole and Willoughby to pick up some more groceries for her, and then suggests that they ought to drive to the beach. Willoughby and Nicole enjoy a nice moment at the beach and fall for each other. Hawk's chauffeur, spying on Herbie and the duo, bribes a man to park his trailer on the only road out, prompting Herbie to surf through the coastal bay to find an alternate route.

When they return to the firehouse after dark, every item of furniture has been removed by Hawk; whereupon Mrs. Steinmetz, Willoughby, Nicole, and Herbie track the theft to Hawk's warehouse. The four break in and recover Steinmetz's belongings, all of which had been loaded into Old No. 22. Hawk's hired security guards catch them in the act, but Herbie's acts of pushing other items off the warehouse shelves trap them and allow the trio to escape. On the adventurous ride home that sees Herbie and Old No. 22 pursued by Hawk, Mrs. Steinmetz meets and becomes enamored with an inebriated old-timer named Judson.

The next morning, Mrs. Steinmetz decides to confront Hawk herself. Accompanied by Willoughby in spite of Nicole telling him not to let her do this, Mrs. Steinmetz drives Herbie onto the window-cleaning machine of Hawk’s skyscraper to reach his office, where they overhear Hawk on the phone with Loostgarten (Chuck McCann), an independent demolition agent, about the deal to demolish the firehouse. In response, she activates the window cleaning machine to fill the office with soap and water. This done, Herbie chases Hawk around the office, then outside onto a ledge of the building, until Mrs Steinmetz calms him down.

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

In the morning, Hawk fakes a truce with Mrs. Steinmetz. Thinking him to be sincere, Willoughby and Nicole go for dinner, while Mrs. Steinmetz invites Judson to the firehouse for a date of their own. That evening, Hawk shows up with bulldozers and frontloaders 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 vehicles, 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 (including a wrecked one from a junkyard), 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 Volkswagen Beetles chasing him. Later, Nicole and Willoughby are married, and ride Herbie through an arch formed by his new Volkswagen Beetle friends.


Production notes[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 some of 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 awakened by Loostgarten.


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

The included 1965 models make for some continuity errors as the windows are larger on the 1965 cars.

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 their 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.


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 United States and Canada box office, generating Disney $17,500,000 in theatrical rentals.[2] The film earned rentals of around $13,300,000 overseas,[3] giving worldwide rentals of almost $31 million.

Home media[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.


Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote, "There's nothing harmful about 'Herbie Rides Again'; it's simply not very good."[4] Variety reported, "It should prove gleeful enough for the kiddies, and at the short and sweet unspooling time of 88 minutes, painless pleasantry for adult chaperones as well."[5] Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film "suffers from the slackening of freshness and invention which so often bedevils sequels ... Still, 'Herbie Rides Again' preserves the bright, unreal feeling of that special Disney world which more and more is a world to itself."[6] Gene Siskel gave the film two-and-a-half stars out of four and called it "a surprisingly tolerable sequel."[7]

Herbie Rides Again presently holds a score of 80% at Rotten Tomatoes based on 5 reviews.[8]

See also[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. ^ "50c of Every Film Rental $ Adds To Disney Film Div. Profits". Variety. January 14, 1976. p. 4.
  4. ^ Canby, Vincent (June 7, 1974). "The Screen: ' Herbie' Rides Again to Defend Landmarks". The New York Times. 23.
  5. ^ "Film Reviews: Herbie Rides Again". Variety. March 27, 1974. 14.
  6. ^ Champlin, Charles (July 9, 1974). "'Herbie'---The Bug Takes Another Lap". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 1.
  7. ^ Siskel, Gene (July 17, 1974). "Disney's 'Herbie' Rides Again'". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 5.
  8. ^ "Herbie Rides Again at Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 5, 2018.

External links[edit]