Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The April 2011 A - Z Blogging Challenge - E is for Eleanor!

It's a Buddha Man Quickie!

The April 2011 A - Z Blogging Challenge continues apace - and today I'm feeling special, since one of my very own initials is providing our theme for the day - but it's not about me today - it's time to pay attention to a special lady - she hails from Detroit, and she has quite the classy chassis, because this time:

E is for Eleanor!

Gone in 60 Seconds (H.B. Halicki Mercantile Company, 1974) H. B. "Toby" Halicki took a love for cars and turned it first into a successful business running scrapyards and dealing in auto parts, then turned that into a career making movies. And surprise! The movies are all about cars! This is his first. In it, Halicki proves to be quite the Renaissance man as he writes, produces, directs, stars in, and performs driving stunts in this flick. He plays the wonderfully named Maindrian Pace, a go-getting insurance investigator who uses that job to cover his real career - car thief. Knowing all the tricks, he finds a lot of stolen cars for his company - but when he investigates certain cases, he mysteriously comes up empty and the company is forced to pay off. As the flick gets going, Pace is given what seems to be an impossible order - a South American drug lord offers Pace $400,000.00 to steal 48 specific models of cars to be delivered within five days. The first half of the movie deals with the setup and the execution of this crazy heist. Then, thanks to an informer, the cops show up, and the second half of the movie turns into one of the longest car chases in movie history - with Halicki doing his own stunt driving behind the wheel of "Eleanor," a yellow 1973 Ford Mustang - and with no CGI or doubled cars - it's quite a chase indeed as Eleanor takes her lumps trying to evade the Po-Po.

It's refreshing to see a movie actress who lets her appearance go in a movie when the script calls for it...

A lot of people have gotten up the gumption and thrown together enough money to make a movie all on their own, with their own ideas for the script, and their friends and family helping out. And most of those movies bite, and are now episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000. But then there's this movie - low budget for sure, rough around all the edges, with acting that ranges from decent to nonexistent and a script that was reportedly only worked out in scene outline form and ad-libbed from there. But you know what - this is a kickass movie! A lot of reviews online complain about the first half of the movie - that only the chase is worth watching. Wrong. The first fifty minutes are pretty cool - with some amusing subplots in the different car thefts, some terrible 70's fashions, and a cameo from Nascar star Parnelli Jones and his Big Oly Bronco truck, targeted by the gang for theft. So, while this flick was never designed to win awards, it was engineered to be a perennial drive-in classic, which it definitely is. So jump in your car, evade the police, and track this flick down so you can check this one out!

But in addition to pointing out the fun of watching the movie, we're also here to celebrate the female lead of the picture, so here she is in her pre-chase glory:

I'm not a gearhead by any means, but I do get a charge out of a good movie or TV car, so yeah, I've got a bit of a crush on Miss Elly.

But I am not her only suitor, oh no! She has impressed scads of people over the years. She's been immortalized as a die cast model:

And even after finishing out this movie in less than pristine shape - ol' Eleanor can still bring in the crowds, as she has made appearances at car shows all over the country - here's how she's looking these days:

Eleanor is really quite a lady. I know she's not the Ms. Rigby the Beatles were singing about - but do you suppose she might have inspired Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman when they wrote their Turtles hit Elenore, even though it's spelled differently and was written six years before Gone in 60 Seconds was made? Yeah, me too.
Til next we meet, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!


  1. Better than the remake, so that fact alone makes it worthwhile. Nice pick.

    The long ass car chase scene is breathtaking, and for shear length, bold. I mean who makes such elaborate car chases. No one, really. Therefore, we should celebrate ambitious filmmaking.

  2. LOL! My hubby LOVED LOVED LOVED to watch Mystery Science Theater 3000. He probably saw this movie. :-)

  3. I've only seen the Nick Cage verion, which was okay. Speaking of car chase scenes, one of my faves was in "Date Night" with the Audi R8 that locked horns with a taxi. HILARIOUS!

  4. Matthew - it is extraordinary in some ways that Halicki would attempt so maverick a move as a 40 minute chase in his movie when so many first time filmmakers give us talking heads in a room, trusting that their writing skills and friends' acting talents will carry the day. Of course, they are mostly wrong. Halicki went with what he knew best - cars - and brought that to the silver screen intact. Amazing man.

    Jennifer - I resisted MST3K for a long time, as my friends and I did much the same thing with triple features back in the 80's - but I'm now digging up the old episodes - one thing: Gone in 60 Seconds wasn't on that show - the other first time filmmakers who weren't as adept out of the gate as H.B. Halicki were the guys whose movies ended up over there.

    Luana - Not sure this older version would be up your alley - but you never know...haven't seen Date Night - but will no doubt as I like both Fey and Carell.

    Thanks for the comments all!

  5. I had no idea the Cage flick was a remake. *hangs head in shame*

    Now this--this sounds like fun. Alas, I've a devil of a time finding movies like this on Netflix. Maybe Blockbuster going belly-up will inspire them to add to their offerings!

  6. I loved this movie, but had no idea it was a remake either.....