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Film / Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

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HIS BUSINESS IS STEALING CARS...when he goes to work, the excitement starts—-and GOES—-and GOES—-and GOES!

Chace Research insurance investigator Maindrian Pace and his team lead a double life as expert car thieves. When a Colombian drug lord contracts him to steal 48 cars in a week for $400,000, he has secured all but one, a 1973 Ford Mustang (Not a Mach 1 as most people believe it to be!), codenamed Eleanor. After destroying a 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado because it was owned by a drug trafficker (and packed to the brim with heroin), Eugene Chace, his business partner/brother-in-law, tips off the police to stakeout the International Tower in Long Beach, location of the final Mustang.

Car Chases ensue.

Made by H. B. "Toby" Halicki, known as The Shoestring Salesman (who did all of his own stunts) on a budget of almost nothing. Has a remake starring Angelina Jolie and Nicolas Cage.

Gone in 60 Seconds shows examples of the following tropes:

  • And Starring: Eleanor.
  • As Himself: Parnelli Jones, as well as all the police, emergency responders, and mayor of Carson.
  • Badass Driver: Pace, and Halicki, who did all of the stunts himself, including the 120 foot jump (which actually compressed twelve vertebrae and resulted in a permanent limp).
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: One of the car heist schemes the team pulls off (stealing a Rolls Royce) is to arrive to an airport's valet section looking like another group of high-flying tourists and getting in the cars driving off with them. They pull it off again later on in the film with one of the thieves pretending to be Lyle Waggoner's personal assistant and taking Waggoner's car off the car wash (it helps that the car wash attendant was stoned out of his gourd).
  • Because I'm Good At It: Why the team at Chace Research steal cars.
  • B-Movie: Filmed with a budget of $150,000, with most of the cast being composed of Halicki's family and friends. Some important scenes are also conversations between characters given over montages.
  • Cain and Abel: Pace and Eugene, of the brother-in-law variety.
  • Car Chase: While Bullitt is credited with making the trope and Vanishing Point, The French Connection and The Seven-Ups codifying it, this film perfects the Car Chase genre. In fact, clocking in at 40 minutes, this is the single longest chase in cinematic history.
  • Chekhov's Gag: After stealing the Eleanor at the midpoint of the film, Pace and Atlee see a similar Mustang rolling by and they joke that there's got to be a lot of them around because it's the last of the series and selling like hotcakes. While this sees a dramatic use in that Pace steals that other Mustang at the climax, after the chase is over and Eleanor has been smashed to hell it gets a comedic use when some businessman (who looks almost exactly like Pace in disguise) arrives to the car wash that Pace is hiding in with the exact same car as a Deus ex Machina.
  • Cool Car: Made in 1973, virtually all the cars on the market were Cool Cars.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Eugene, Pace's brother-in-law, tipped off the cops about his whereabouts of stealing Eleanor.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Pace - who has been given a task to steal 48 cars in one week - considers the heroin inside the stolen Cadillac as a danger and does not accept the idea of heroin being a profitable side business, unlike Eugene.
    • The climactic car chase happens because Pace has one important rule: only steal cars that are insured. When the "Eleanor" the team steals at the midpoint of the film turns out to be uninsured, Pace (with some reluctance, because it was very hard to get that Mustang) gives it back and goes steal another one.
  • Filming for Easy Dub: Most of the film's exposition is dubbed over montages of the thief team disassembling a car (Jill), Pace walking on a park with his wife, Pace arriving to pick up his employer's money, the thief crew driving around doing recon and Pace doing phone calls.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: When the Eldorado comes in with packets of white powder, Atlee stabs one packet with a switchblade and tastes the powder, declaring it to be heroin.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: Apropos of nothing, Pace and Atlee casually mention at one point early in the film of having served in the Army. Probably to justify Pace's utter lack of fear in the middle of a demolition-derby chase.
  • Hassle-Free Hotwire: How Pace steals Jill's twin. He uses a slide hammer to remove the cover over the ignition cylinder, then sticks a screwdriver in the cylinder to start it (in Real Life, this would only mess up the cylinder and necessitate replacement). He steals a 1969 Rolls Royce later on by attaching another ignition cylinder to some sort of bypass (the model year seems to be deliberate, because all vehicles made for the US starting in the 1970 model year were required to have a steering column lock).
  • Hero Antagonist/Punch-Clock Hero: The police, who are only trying to solve a sudden rash of high end car thefts.
  • I Call It "Vera": Discussed by Pace and Atlee, then played straight. He gives all 48 cars women's names as code names.
  • The Juggernaut:
    • Pace and Eleanor. Exactly nothing can stop them on their 42-minute chase, no matter how much of a beating Eleanor takes. (They do stop for a few seconds after hitting a lamp post, but immediately go on again.)
    • The pot smokers' white '65 Cadillac. Even after crashing, it goes on as if it's laced with so much THC that it doesn't even notice its smashed front-end.
  • Manly Tears: Pace is noticeably choked up when they destroy Jill, the red Challenger R/T.
  • Majority-Share Dictator: Pace browbeats Eugene to help him with the car thefts and handling the other minutiae of the insurance business to keep their covers functional by pointing out that Eugene, Pace and his wife Pumpkin (Eugene's sister) have equal thirds of the business's shares and if Eugene pisses Pace off, he and Pumpkin can vote Eugene off.
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: Discussed.
    • The team has an underwriter buy Jill, a wrecked 1973 Dodge Challenger R/T, then steals an identical Challenger and swap out the engine, transmission and VIN placards and sell it to a Chrysler dealership (a very real technique), Atlee explains to The New Guy (doubling as Audience Surrogate) that because there are over two million cars in Los Angeles County alone, the chances of that specific car being being found out by police or insurance companies after undergoing a swap out are 500,000:1.
    "Jill just became a statistic."
    • Naturally, they get caught when the insurance underwriter drives by the dealership and sees the wrecked car he just bought, good as new, with the same license plate, forcing Pace to steal it and take it to the wreckers.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Pace and Eugene are brothers-in-law and definitely do not see eye to eye. Pace has to threaten Eugene with being kicked out of their insurance investigations company if he does not skips his honeymoon and help them get the cars and things finally reach a breaking point when Lace destroys the stolen drug dealer's car and half a million dollars' worth of heroin in it (that Eugene wanted to peddle himself), with Eugene calling the cops on Pace and leading to the climactic car chase.
  • Product Delivery Ordeal: A Colombian drug lord contracts Maindrian Pace and his team to steal 48 cars in a week for $400,000. The last car on the list, a 1973 Ford Mustang codenamed "Eleanor," proves the most difficult to attain. Pace is aware of one such car model at the International Towers in Long Beach, but his brother-in-law tips off the police to stake out the location. Consequently, when Pace steals the car, it leads to a destructive 40-minute Car Chase, as Pace tries to shake off the police and deliver the car to the Long Beach docks. Eventually succeeding at evading the police but with the Mustang irreparably damaged in the process, Pace happens to be fortunate enough to spot exact duplicate of the car at a car wash. Noticing an opportunity, Pace leaves his current vehicle at the car wash and dupes the owner of the other Mustang under the guise of being the car wash's manager. After a quick license plate swap and disguise removal, Pace leaves the car wash with the newer, pristine model, leaving the wrecked one for the other car owner to find. The police, spotting the wrecked Mustang, quickly descend upon the scene to arrest the real car wash manager (who happens to match Pace's description), as Pace safely clears a police checkpoint to finish the last delivery with relative ease.
  • Product Placement: Throughout the film we see many brands, most notably Goodyear Tire, provided by the blimp no less, Arco Gas Stations, and a complete radio ad for the Cal Worthington Ford Dealership.
  • Public Secret Message: After stealing the uninsured Mustang, the owner puts an ad in the paper, stating it's uninsured and if returned, no questions would be asked.
  • Real-Person Cameo: All the police, emergency responders, mayor of Carson, California, were all real. And Parnelli Jones and his Big Oly Bronco (which he still owns and takes to car shows).
  • Re-Cut: Halecki would shoot a new opening chase, replace the opening chase of this movie, and release it as an entirely new film, Deadline Auto Theft, in 1983.
  • Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: It's pretty obvious that Pace's employers are members of The Cartel and Pace's contact heavily implies that he better get the cars on time or else.
  • Slo-Mo Big Air: Maindrian drives off a hood that just happened to be placed on two wrecked cars (unrelated to his chase).note  This is shown from several angles in slow-motion, then shown at normal speed. You can actually see Eleanor bending on landing.
  • That One Case: Eleanor, the only car to give him trouble. After deciding to return one stolen from Harold Smith, an insurance claims adjuster notorious for denying claims (and screwing over more people than Pace's brother-in-law) just to see him weasel his way out of it, he steals an uninsured Mustang that Pumpkin, his fiancée, insists he return. He then steals another Mustang from the International Tower in Long Beach, only for it to be staked out, resulting in a massive police chase.
  • The '70s
  • Time Title: From the Title Drop on the Goodyear Blimp, advising people to lock their cars or it could be stolen in under a minute.
  • Title Drop: On the Goodyear Blimp, no less, advising people to lock their cars or it could be stolen in under a minute.
  • Villain Protagonist: Pace, who is, after all, stealing cars, though he does insist on only stealing insured cars so the owners are compensated.