We love these movies! All of them, from the original 1974 film—which remains as a cult classic, not to mention the record-breaking, 40-minute chase scene that was shot on-site in LA and also saw the destruction of many cars throughout, all ending with a huge jump that cleared 128 feet.
Film director H.B. Halicki not only acted in the movie, but also has a writer, producer, and director credit. He also performed his own stunts, and he suffered injuries from the final jump, and from the accident where he tagged a Cadillac and crashed Eleanor through a pole. This movie introduced the “Car Crash King” to the world, as Halicki made three more movies before his untimely passing.
The tragedy came during a stunt gone wrong while filming the sequel to Gone in 60 Seconds, when a water tower fell on him, crushing him. Only two chase scenes were filmed, one with an International cab-over semi, and another with a custom car that was made specifically for the movie, known as“The Slicer”. Though Halicki perished on set, these two scenes have been released on DVD with a collection of Halicki's other movies, The Junkman and Deadline Theft Auto.
Over a decade later, H.B.'s wife, Denise Halicki, became the Executive Producer on the Gone In 60 Seconds remake starring Nicolas Cage. The movie doesn't 100% follow the original, but subtle (and not so subtle) hints to the classic movie are made throughout the film. Though the newer Gone In 60 Seconds hasn't accumulated the cult following of the original, the final chase is right up there as one of the best in cinema history, and in the Halicki spirit, also ends with a huge jump across a bridge.
These three movies may not be the greatest car films ever made, with one being a B-movie, one incomplete, and the last a Hollywood remake that may have paid respect to H.B. Halicki but still lost some of the spirit along the way. And yet, all the movies hold a special place for me, as the remake was a movie I've enjoyed since childhood and the earlier movies are ones that my dad and I have enjoyed together.
As much as one can enjoy a movie, everyone can easily spot some of the things that just don't quite add up on the screen. Some of these mistakes have to do with the cars themselves, sometimes they're some sort of continuity issue, and other times they just make you scratch your head, in general.
25 Steals Eleanor, Crashes It (1974)
When trying to steal Eleanor from under the International Towers, he's unaware that a couple of detectives are watching him. The car's alarm gets set off when he exits, and he stops and pulls the alarm wire out. When taking off, he spots the detective's car and when trying to take off, the cop's car rams the front end, damaging the car. This takes any value away from the car and begins the record-breaking car chase.
24 Sets Fire To A Car, Then Claims List Is Done (1974)
This one confused me, as the scene is where he is crossing “Renee” off of the list (which is a 1966 Europa) and then told about a spot in the newspaper pleading for Eleanor's return. He then argues that the list is done. In the scene right before this, though, he just got done setting a Cadillac Eldorado (either Nancy or Laurie) on fire, making his list again incomplete. Either this was due to poor editing, or a piece of the story that was forgotten altogether.
23 Stole The Same Car Twice (1974)
The first time Maindrian stole Eleanor, he was caught by the owner, who was taking his dog out and who took off after him in his Plymouth. The pursuer was the one that was apprehended and taken home, all the while claiming his car was stolen. Maindrian got away with the Mustang but returned it to avoid police attention. At the end of the movie, he finally steals the car from the wife of the owner, who was taking the car out to be washed. It's kind of a crazy, roundabout way to steal the same car.
22 Eleanor Is The Only Starring Credit (1974)
In the opening sequence, a lone Cadillac is driving down a road in the early morning. Credits appear on screen, first from H.B. Halicki's Mercantile company, then the title. After which, the starring role is given to Eleanor. I could imagine the audience's surprise when it's discovered that this lone starring role belongs to a 1971 Mustang Mach 1. Sure since then the car has become a legend and truly the star of the show, but at the moment when this movie first came out, no one had any idea.
21 The First Two Cars Mentioned (1974)
With Eleanor being the star of the show, she isn't mentioned until Maindrian first sees her in person. This scene may be good to really show who Eleanor is, but I'd think they'd really want to drive home the star of the movie. Earlier, they introduce the list, with the first two cars a pair of Stutz Blackhawks named Donna and Karen. Later on in the movie, you'll witness a gold Stutz being stolen and even later, in the scene where he walks by the cars.
20 Why A Mustang? (1974)
This one didn't make much sense to me in a logical manner. Though Eleanor may be the star of the movie, the list of cars that are featured alongside it is very impressive. The list includes a DeTomaso Mangusta and a Pantera, a wicked rare Manta Mirage, an ensemble of Rolls-Royces, and a lot of Cadillacs. Where does a Mustang fit in with all of this high-end machinery? In the real world it makes sense, as it was H.B.'s car, but in the movie world, it seems unlikely that a man with these tastes would desire to own a Ford.
19 Any Color As Long As It's Yellow (1974)
Three different Eleanor's are stolen in the movie—all yellow, one owned by a couple, one owned by a beautiful lady to whom he had to return the car for insurance reasons, and the last belonging to a radio DJ in the International Towers. The realism is broken a bit when all the cars are yellow and not seen in any other color that the car could've been had in. But since it's a B-movie with a limited budget, it's safe to assume there are only two Eleanors which share only one scene together.
18 How'd He Steal The More Interesting Cars? (1974)
Maindrian takes a walk past every car before getting into Eleanor and dropping her off. Some of these cars you recognize as the ones they stole throughout the movie, but some of the more interesting cars you don't witness, like the Mangusta, Ferrari Daytona, and a race-ready Hemi Cuda. Though the movie is long enough, I'd much rather like to see the scenarios they had to get out of when trying to pick up some of the rarer cars on the list, including, of course, the Manta.
17 Confusing Eleanor Cameo (1989)
Eleanor makes a surprise cameo in the incomplete second movie, though not a very subtle one, as there's a decal on the rear fender that reads “Eleanor” and both guys standing in front refer to her as such. It may be a cool little reference to the first movie but it doesn't make much sense beyond that, as Eleanor is the nickname of a car already stolen over a decade before the events of this movie take place. No one else would know her name or the story behind what was most likely the biggest car chase in Los Angeles history, all because the police arrested the wrong guy.
16 Driving Head-On Into The Slicer (1989)
The Slicer, a custom-built car that's specifically made to go under any cars in its path, does exactly that when escaping. Even after being warned and the car having displayed its capability during the escape, one cop in a Fox-body Mustang drives head-on onto the Slicer, ramping off of it and into a pile of cars. This kind of mindless maneuver really didn't make much sense, as the thought of trying to drive into The Slicer at all just plays into what it was made for.
15 Steals A Porsche 911, Then Crashes It Through A Window (2000)
Right in the beginning of the movie, Memphis Raines' younger brother Kip attempts to steal a beautiful Porsche 911 (996 generation) right out of the dealership. Kip may not be as good as his brother, but when delivering to Calitri, the cars are required to be in top condition. With that said, it's a mystery why Kip decided to jump it out the dealership window when he could've driven it out the front door, which he had already busted one side of.
14 Pointlessly Recreating The Cadillac Scene (2000)
In the original movie, a Cadillac was stolen with some very illegal substances hidden in the trunk and doors of the car. And though the Cadillac was on the list, Maindrian had to get rid of it and did so by burning it. In the remake, however, the rookie kid, Toby, steals a Cadillac that isn't on the list and is also full of illegal substance. This recreation of the scene from the 1974 movie was a nice homage, but it didn't make sense because Toby stole a car that wasn't on the list just to recreate this scene.
13 Stealing The Thunderbird, And The Other Tricks (2000)
This isn't the only trick that I don't understand, not to say I know much about stealing cars, but I know a bit about Thunderbirds, being a proud owner myself, and although the T-Bird in the film is older than mine, I still can't see how taking the blinker light out and attaching a wire inside it, then attaching the other side to a solenoid or battery terminal, would start the car. Just watching it seems interesting, but highly unlikely, though as I've said, I don't know much about stealing cars.
12 Damaging The Hummer (2000)
When Sphinx and Mirror Man steal the Hummer two-door, they're surprised by two detectives who intercept them as they're getting on their way. Sphinx pushes the cop car back down a ramp and escapes custody. As much as it wasn't much of anything for that Hummer to push the car back down, it still goes against trying to keep the cars as clean as possible. This stunt is low risk, but could still catch the team some rage from Calitri for a scratched truck.
11 Crossing Off The XJ220 Well Before Delivery (2000)
During the car stealing montage, Otto crosses off the XJ220, but it's only later that Sway drops off the car and calls in reporting that Bernadene just took her for a ride. Wouldn't this report get the car crossed off the list? This could be marked down to a continuity error in editing, but in the movie's universe, it doesn't make sense that Otto would have crossed the name off the list before the delivery actually took place at the Long Beach docks.
10 Damaging The Escalade (2000)
The Escalade that they steal also gets damaged, but more so than the Hummer mentioned. The Hummer may have only suffered scratches in the paint, but the Cadillac is shot at when the owners discover their SUV is being stolen. Then, while being pursued by security, they drive through a neon sign, further damaging the Escalade. Also, with it being shot at, who knows where the other two shots went after two shots were fired at the windshield of the vehicle.
9 Saving Eleanor For Last (2000)
Though it's explained by Castleback why Memphis would steal Eleanor last, I don't understand this logic. Eleanor has always been the hardest to steal for Memphis, and with the knowledge of Castleback putting the pressure on him, wouldn't he really want to steal Eleanor first? I know this idea defeats the dramatic end of the movie, and they did it not only to play on Memphis' fear of the car but because the original was the same way with Eleanor getting stolen last, but still, it's not a great strategy.
8 Giving His Brother A Broken Car (2000)
At the end of the remake, the crew is having a BBQ in celebration. Kip and Otto have a surprise for Memphis. They call everyone over and tear the cover off of a beat-up Shelby GT500. Memphis is taken aback, gets into the car, and asks if Sway wants to ride. After setting off and after the credits start rolling, the car is heard stalling and refusing to start. If this happened so quickly after receiving the car, then wouldn't the same have happened to Kip, and if it did, then why didn't he address the issue before giving it to his brother.
7 Taking Pictures For No Reason (2000)
I've seen this in other movies and it's always bothered me. Why did Memphis have his team waste a night by going around and finding any car they could, and take pictures of them, when they had a complete list of addresses and the know-how to steal these cars? Wouldn't it look suspicious to anyone else if they saw a guy getting out of a minivan and taking a picture of a brand-new Mercedes, then getting back into the van and driving off? I know this is another thing that wouldn't make the movie dramatic, but this just doesn't make sense to me.
6 Should Have Better Security (2000)
Memphis has a known history with the 1967 GT500, and I'm sure that the sort of reputation Memphis has doesn't stay only within the police department. So why is it that the GT500 he steals is so easily accessible? Even if his history with the car may not be known, this car is far from stock, with a bunch of horsepower and nitrous injection. So why doesn't this car have an upgraded security system to protect against such a theft?
5 Damage Gets Worse After Eleanor Already Landed (2000)
After a long chase, Memphis finds himself in a bind, stuck between a car accident that completely blocks a lane of traffic on the highway and the pursuing cops behind him. A perfectly-placed ramp truck serves as an out and Memphis goes for it, jumping over the accident and traffic jam. He lands hard but is able to continue, and delivers the car to Calitri. It's when he delivers the car that you can witness the real damage the car took landing from the jump. Though in the shots directly after the jump, the car doesn't look nearly as bad as it does when arriving at the shipping yard.
4 Why Didn't He Fix It? (2000)
After Calitri sees Eleanor, he is mad about the amount of damage done to the car and has Memphis sent to the junkyard for liquidation. What I don't understand, though, is that even though the car is damaged, Memphis still delivered a running 1967 Shelby GT500 that could be fixed, and with Calitri's name well-known and feared around town, it wouldn't be much of anything to scare someone into repairing the car. And then, just go ahead and ship it out overseas. Instead, Calitri has Eleanor crushed, leaving one more rare car that he needs to hire someone to find and steal.
3 Why Change Eleanor? (2000)
This is a sort of remake, after all, and the only returning character from the original 1974 movie is Eleanor. Why didn't they keep the 1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1 as the famous Eleanor instead of changing her to a modified 1967 Shelby? The Shelby is cool—don't get me wrong—but the Mach 1 is the original and the first to have the title. With both the cars, the name Eleanor takes on two forms, splitting the generations into those who either knew the original or saw the remake.
2 How'd He Find Another One So Quickly? (2000)
This is another thing to add to the question of why Kip got his brother a broken car. How did he find a Shelby GT500 so quickly? It takes some people years to find their dream cars and the more specific you get, the harder it going to be to find one. But Kip seems to have no trouble at all, as he finds one of the 2,048 GT500s made in 1967, and goes and gets it, and brings it back to the garage and covers it up. I just can't make sense of how easy it was for him to find a Shelby while I'm looking in junkyards for parts for a 25-year-old Civic and constantly coming back empty-handed.
1 What Was On That Truck? (1989)
The movie isn't complete, but with that in mind, it was never explained why the truck was stolen and driven into a water tower, destroying it in the process. It may not be the truck he was after, but the cargo in the dual trailers was all lost, as well. Though I would've loved to see the rest of this movie, Halicki lost his life in the scene where the tractor-trailer hit the water tower, and it collapsed it on top of him.
References: IMDb, IMCDb, and Wikipedia