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review added: 1/5/01

Gone in 60 Seconds (1974 & 2000)

reviews by Todd Doogan of The Digital Bits

Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Gone in 60 Seconds
2000 (2000) - Touchstone (Buena Vista)

Film Rating: B-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): A/A-/A-

Specs and Features:

118 mins, PG-13, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 1:21:18 in chapter 24), Conversations with Jerry Bruckheimer interview, Bruckheimer filmography and biography, Action Overload clip reel, The Big Chase (three behind-the-scenes interview featurettes on the making of the climatic chase at the end), 0 to 60 ("making of" featurette), Wild Rides ("making of" featurette), Stars on the Move (11 behind-the-scenes interviews and film clips featuring the major characters from the film), music video for Painted on My Heart by The Cult, 4 theatrical trailers (for Gone in Sixty Seconds, Coyote Ugly, Shanghai Noon and Mission to Mars), animated film-themed menu screens with sound, scene access (32 chapters), languages: English, French and Spanish (DD 5.1), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

Encoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Gone in 60 Seconds
1974 (2000) - H.B. Halicki Mercantile Co. and Junk Yard (Navarre)

Film Rating: C-

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B+/A/A

Specs and Features:

98 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), single-sided, dual-layered (no layer switch), introduction by Denise Shakarian Halicki and "Eleanor", commentary by cinematographer Jack Vacek and film editor Warner Leighton, interviews with carmaker Lee Iacocca, car racing legend Parnelli Jones, production crew member J.C. Agajanian, Jr. and stunt driver Bobby Ore, 24 production photo galleries, international movie poster gallery, 3 deleted scenes, 2 theatrical trailers (for Gone in Sixty Seconds (1974) and The Junkman), video trailer for the remastered version of Gone in Sixty Seconds), DVD production credits (hiding an Easter egg - entire film told in still photos), DVD-ROM features (including weblinks and production photos), animated film-themed menu screens with music and sound, scene access (30 chapters), languages: English (DD 5.1 & 2.0, DTS 5.1), subtitles: none

Gone in Sixty Seconds (1974)

Maindrian Pace is the lead insurance investigator for Chase Laboratories. He's well respected by the company and, as the saying goes around the office, if he can't find the car, it's gone. He should know, because on the side, he's the best car booster on the West Coast. Partnered with his girlfriend and her two brothers, business is booming. And because he works for the insurance company, he's got all that inside information.

Maindrian is the cock of the roost - a man who walks tall, talks hard and has all the answers. His only beef is with Eugene, one of his partners who doesn't see eye to eye with Maindrian and doesn't always think before he says or does something. When the order comes in for a whopping 48 cars, Maindrian and his team quickly go to work stealing some of the rarest cars in Los Angeles, including his own personal unicorn, "Eleanor" - a suped-up Ford Mustang Mach 1. The only snag comes up when Maindrian finds out that Eleanor's owner loves the car even more than he does (and he's got no insurance). The guy puts ads in the local newspaper begging for the car's return, and the car lover in Maindrian sympathizes. He returns Eleanor, with plans of stealing another, similar car that he's found. But problems arise when Eugene, after a violent disagreement with Maindrian, gets his revenge by ratting him out to the cops. Fortunately, what's bad for Maindrian is great for us, because Eugene's treachery leads up to a pulse-pounding, 40-minute chase sequence, that closes the film out and makes it a legend among car enthusiasts.

The 1974 version of Gone in Sixty Seconds is pretty much a joke up until the climactic chase. Seriously, the film is so flawed that you have to sort of feel sorry for it. The "technique" of this film, is to show the characters either far away or with their faces going in any direction but towards the camera, so you can't see their lips move. Why? Well, my guess is that director/writer Toby Halicki didn't want to shoot with sound, so he could loop and foley the dialogue and sound effects later. This actually works in the DVD's favor, because it's that much easier to remaster the sound. But in terms of filmmaking, it comes off pretty bad.

Gone in Sixty Seconds (1974) isn't a horrible film, though. It's actually pretty watchable. I have absolutely no qualms suggesting that you should see it. It has a subtle charm that propels it along at a nice pace, and the little bits of humor added to the film work. It was a true labor of love. Halicki was a collector of sorts - junked cars, toys, models. And he put everything he had into this film, including money, soul, blood, sweat and tears. The planned sequel in the 1980s came to a halt when Toby ended up giving his life to the project (he was crushed under a water tower that came down atop his car a few seconds too early). Watching some of the "near misses" in this film is slightly eerie... but holds a creepy kind of fun at the same time.

Speaking of "slightly eerie", dig (if you will) the opening to this special edition DVD. Toby's widow Denise Shakarian Halicki gives a weird rambling intro to the film. Sitting in front of "Eleanor", she smiles through a rehearsed monologue of facts, passions and history. It's interesting, but would have been much better as a feature and not as a mandatory beginning to the film. Once you get to the film however, you'll find a very well done transfer of a print that really shouldn't look this good on DVD (but thankfully does). This isn't the greatest transfer ever, but for an independent film that probably wasn't stored very well, you'll be surprised how modern the tones and detail looks. That's not to say that the film isn't dated as hell. But it has great color, deep blacks and detail to die for. There's some muddy issues with the print here and there and you will see a bit of artifacting, but for a film this old and obscure, I'm going to cut it some slack. The sound is pretty nice as well, with quite a few selections, actually. We get a lovely Dolby Digital 5.1 track, a 2.0 track that probably represents the original sound nicely and, surprise of all surprises, a super-nice DTS 5.1 track (all in English). Sound-wise, this disc really runs the gamut and impressed the hell out of me.

As for extras, we have a commentary by cinematographer Jack Vacek and film editor Warner Leighton. These two fellas laugh and chuckle their way through various behind-the-scenes stories. The track is really screen specific and quite informative. There's also a set of interviews with carmaker Lee Iacocca, car-racing legend Parnelli Jones, production crewmember J.C. Agajanian, Jr. and stunt driver Bobby Ore. They talk about what it was like to either participate in the production, know Halicki or (in the case of Iacocca) be responsible for Eleanor. Throw in 24 production photo galleries, an international movie poster gallery, 3 deleted scenes, theatrical trailers for this film and Halicki's other car crash opus, The Junkman), a video trailer for the remastered version of Gone in Sixty Seconds) and an Easter egg (featuring the entire film told through still photos) and you have a sweet little special edition. You even get a few DVD-ROM features, including access to a special website and additional photos. With this disc, you definitely get a well-rounded look at a lost classic.

Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000)

Nic Cage stars in the remake of the above film, and folks... you'll either love it or hate it. It's that type of flick. Forget everything I mentioned in the above review, because this is a remake in name only. Except for the main character being a world class car thief, and a car named Eleanor being featured, there's not one shred of the original film's plot to be found here. In the 2000 version, Cage plays Randall "Memphis" Raines. He's currently a self-made businessman, running a go-cart track for kids. When he gets word that his little brother Kip is in trouble, he rushes to his side. But it seems the trouble Kip's in involves Memphis too. You see, Memphis used to be... yes... the best car booster in Los Angeles. He'd have your ride under his ass in less than a minute if he wanted. But, to save his brother from the life of a professional thief, Memphis left that world and became respectable. Unfortunately, Kip didn't follow his brother's example. Kip's got an order to fill for Raymond Calitri, a notorious character with a hair-trigger and a passion for wood furniture. So Memphis has to help him steal 50 cars in one night... or else Kip is dead. Not one to let his family down, Memphis calls together his old crew (which includes Robert Duvall, Angelina Jolie and Chi McBride) to see if they can help pull off the "boost of the century".

I'll be the first to admit that the new Gone in Sixty Seconds isn't the best film, but I still thought it was fun. It entertained me. I though the "Eleanor Jump" at the end was silly, and looked cheesy as all hell. But up until that point (and a little after), I thought the film had something going. Not everyone will warn up to it, so take my enjoyment of the film with a grain of salt. Some of you will probably even hate it, and call me an idiot openly for appreciating it, but so what? There are people who like this sort of thing, and I'm one of them.

As DVDs go, Buena Vista went out of their way to give fans of this film a nice disc. Even without a commentary track, this is a pretty packed special edition. But let's look at the film first before we dive into that pool. The film transfer is pretty good. Buena Vista is really putting out some great looking DVDs, and this is definitely one of them. It's a pretty color-saturated film, and could have looked horrible, but it stays on the straight and narrow. The hues are bright, shadow detail is rich and the blacks aren't a bit muddy. There are a few moments of edginess, but they're few and far between. The Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track sounds fine. It's not too bombastic and it has its playful moments. This is certainly not the most dynamic mix (it's probably not as good as it could have been), but it does the job. This disc could really have benefited from a DTS soundtrack, and it's too bad it doesn't get one.

Still, Buena Vista is really surprising me with the extras they're throwing on their discs lately. Every now and again, they really give us fans some fun stuff to play with. The supplements here are a bit on the fluffy side, but they're still solid extras. First, we get Conversations with Jerry Bruckheimer, which is an interview with Bruckheimer on his career and the things he's accomplished. It's almost like a practice version of what he'll be saying when he gets his "lifetime achievement award". Included with that is a Bruckheimer filmography and biography. Next up is Action Overload, which is nothing but a glorified clip reel. We also get The Big Chase - 3 "behind-the-scenes" interview segments on the making of the climatic chase at the end of the film. If you liked the movie, you'll have fun with these featurettes. For those interested in the characters in the film, I give you Stars on the Move - 11 "behind-the-scenes" interviews and film clips, featuring most of the major characters from the film. It's fluffier than the rest of material here, but give 'em credit for trying. Topping it all off are the music video for Painted on My Heart by The Cult, the film's theatrical trailer and trailers for Coyote Ugly, Shanghai Noon and Mission to Mars. Not half bad - for those of us who actually liked this movie, these extras have their charms.

In the end, it's fair to say that neither version of Gone in Sixty Seconds is for everyone. But for you gear-heads out there, they're a couple of must-sees. Will they change your life? No. But watching cop cars get smashed up and seeing things explode is always good for killing a few brain cells. So what are you waiting for? Rev yourself up and burn rubber to your favorite store to get these discs before they're (I can't believe I going to do this)... Gone in Sixty Seconds. Yeah, I know...

Todd Doogan
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Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)

Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

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