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Film / The Gumball Rally

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"Ladies, gentlemen, you have been selected because you have the necessary skills. You are here because you have the determination to succeed. Now, it won't be as easy as last year. There are some who will use any means to try and stop us. Some of you won't make it. For those of you who do, there'll be no glory, no headlines...but just a few magic hours flat out against the red line with no catalytic converter and no fifty-five mile an hour speed limit. Ladies and gentlemen, the Gumball Rally has begun!"
Michael Bannon, commencement speech
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A 1976 American action-comedy film, directed and co-written by veteran stuntman Charles Bail, about an illegal cross-country road race. Its large Ensemble Cast includes Michael Sarrazin, Raúl Juliá, Tim McIntire, Nicholas Pryor, Normann Burton, and Gary Busey.

Wealthy but bored businessman Michael Bannon (Sarrazin) issues the code word "Gumball" to his fellow automobile enthusiasts, who gather in a garage in New York City to embark on a coast-to-coast race "with no catalytic converter and no 55-mile-per-hour speed limit." Their nemesis, LAPD lieutenant Roscoe (Burton), also learns of the race and most of the film is devoted to the adventures of the various driving teams and Roscoe's ineffectual attempts to apprehend them. Hilarity Ensues.

The race ends at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, where the finishers celebrate their adventures and the defeated Roscoe skulks off to one side—until a fleet of police cars and tow trucks arrive to impound the vehicles; as it proves, Roscoe had contrived in advance to see to it that all of them were illegally parked. Bannon congratulates Roscoe on his final victory, and again utters the code word "Gumball" to initiate a race back to New York.

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Compare The Cannonball Run; both films were inspired by the same real-life outlaw race.


The Gumball Rally provides examples of:

  • Badass Driver: Franco is hired for his reputation as one.
  • The Big Race
  • Biker Babe: Joann Nail and Susan Flannery play a pair in a Porsche 911.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Lt. Roscoe
    • Lapchick spends the whole film bug-eyed over his various crashes.
  • Candid Camera Prank: Inverted. The Dodge police cruiser team gets an Arizona state trooper to believe that they are filming a movie from a camera hidden on a far-away peak, and ask him to hold still for a face shot, as they make their getaway.
  • Car Skiing: The Camaro pulls this stunt to try to get past an L.A. traffic jam. It doesn't work; the driver loses control and rolls the car.
  • Cool Car: Several.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: "Emergency Plan Alpha" is a very sexy blonde who distracts Franco into pulling over and letting Bannon win the race.
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  • Don't Look Back: Played for laughs.
    Franco: And now, my friend, the first-a rule of Italian driving: [breaks off the rear-view mirror and throws it away] whats-a behind me is not important!
  • Down L.A. Drain: The film climaxes with a race down the concrete L.A. River channel between Bannon's Cobra and Smith's Ferrari.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: One entry disguises their car as a police cruiser, complete with magnetic door decals for every state they'll be passing through.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Lapchick the Mad Hungarian. Literally. Franco, to a lesser extent. Also Ace "Mr. Guts" Preston in the Camaro Z-28, toward the end, as he tries to get through a traffic jam by going up on two wheels (while giving a rebel yell).
  • Driving into a Truck: One team uses this ploy to evade a police roadblock and make a pit stop.
  • Dudley Do-Right Stops to Help: The car disguised as a police cruiser (driven by police officers) loses the race when it stops to help a pregnant lady giving birth while stuck on an L.A. freeway.
    Kandinsky: Oh, no. Avila, no way. I don't wanna hear it, Avila.
    Avila: "To serve and to protect", huh?
  • Epic Race
  • Funny Foreigner: Lapchick, Franco. And the British Benz team.
  • Good Ol' Boys: The Camaro Z28 team. Also the Arizona state trooper.
  • Here We Go Again!: At the very end of the film, Bannon once more says "Gumball" to trigger a new race back to New York.
  • Hot-Blooded: Franco's entire motivation.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Largely averted. Roscoe pursues the racers from coast to coast with the help of local law enforcement, despite not having any jurisdiction.
  • Large Ham: Raúl Juliá's character, Italian race driver Franco Bertollini.
  • Latin Lover: Franco.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Metallicar Syndrome: Pretty much every car.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Arizona state trooper who Kandinsky and Avila put one over on looks a little like (and talks exactly like) Henry Fonda.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: The crew of the Mercedes-Benz 300SL.
    Andy McAllister: Sedately, Barney, as befits our years and station in life.
    [Barney squeals tires as they leave the parking lot]
  • Recycled: The Series: Gumball 3000 (only not played for laughs, it was a serious rally).
  • Right Under Their Noses: One of the teams evades a roadblock by driving into a truck.
  • Running Gag: Several. Lapchick's craziness, Franco's womanizing, the Rolls-Royce...
  • Rule of Cool: At the beginning of the film, it's made very clear that this is a standard rally race with staggered start times (albeit in tiny, 10-second intervals). In other words, they're technically racing against the clock, not against each other. At the end of the race this is conveniently forgotten as the Ferrari and Cobra (which were only separated by one interval) race to get to the finish line first, because it's more fun to watch cars race each other than the clock.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful!: The Porsche 911 team relies on their feminine wiles to evade speeding tickets (or to get whatever else they need during the race). It also works quite well - repeatedly - on the Good Ol' Boys team in the Camaro Z28.
  • Show Some Leg: See "Distracted By The Sexy" above.
  • Spiritual Successor: The Cannonball Run and its sequels.
  • Standard Police Motto: Avila quotes it as the reason they (in the disguised police cruiser) had had to stop and help a stranded pregnant motorist. Justified in that they were real police officers in Los Angeles (and within their jurisdiction) at the time.
  • Suddenly Voiced: Lapchick at the very end, as he loses control of his bike (again) and plunges into the water alongside the Queen Mary:
    Lapchick: OH, SHIIIIIT...
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: The main racers are literally on a first name basis with their dogged pursuer.
  • Take That!: The production company approached Jaguar to provide a car for the film, but the company refused. So, the makers bought their own Jaguar to use in the film. The car fails to start.
  • Toll Booth Antics: Two cars attempt to get through a toll lane ahead of one another. This results in both cars getting wedged between the toll booths.
  • Toyota Tripwire: Lapchick gets doored.
  • Vapor Trail: Happens accidentally to one team of racers (the van entirely filled with fuel so they wouldn't have to stop to refuel).
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Bannon and Smith have been trying to outdo each other since childhood.
  • The Voiceless: Lapchick, the "Mad Hungarian," who becomes Suddenly Voiced.
  • Wacky Racing
  • Watch the Paint Job: One person enters the race by getting a job delivering a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow to Los Angeles. It doesn't end well. Especially after the sandstorm.
  • Weapon for Intimidation: Hot-blooded Franco pulls a gun from a paper bag and threatens another driver with it. It turns out it's a squirt gun, and the whole thing was a gag.

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