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Blu-ray Review: Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

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No matter what you think of the original Gone in 60 Seconds, and I don’t think much of it, you have to give H. B. “Toby” Halicki a great deal of credit. The man dreamt of making an action movie and made it a reality. He obviously worked extremely hard; the credits list him as actor, producer, writer, director, stunt driver, and distributor. It’s a difficult endeavor to make a movie, and to make a successful one, even harder, as many professional and talented artists can attest. Yet, that’s just what Toby did in this instance, turning an extremely low investment of $150,000 into a return of $40 million at the box office.

The Blu-ray/DVD combo packaging boasts the movie has “over 500 crashes,” including “93 cars wrecked in the 40 minute car chase!” The destruction is the main selling point, especially the extended final sequence because until that point the movie is terrible. The writing and acting are so bad it brought to mind cable-access programs, yet without any of the unintended humor. I cared so little about during the first two-thirds of the movie I couldn’t remember the plot or the characters so I didn’t know why the police were after the main character.

From Wikipedia I learned Maindrian Pace (Toby Halicki) was leading a team of car thieves who were tasked with stealing 48 specific high-end cars in five days on behalf of a South American drug dealer. In exchange, they would earn $400,000. Seems simple enough, but Pace is a noble car thief. When it is discovered that one of the stolen cars was not insured, Pace returns it, leaving them one car short. Pace finds a replacement, but the cops have been tipped-off and try to stop him, which begins ” the 40 minute car chase!”

The video has been given a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded displayed at 1.85:1, and the image meets expectations for a low-budget movie from the ’70s. Grain is evident throughout. Colors come through in natural hues and reds are quite solid. Blacks are a problem. Though deep, they crush often, and limited to the use of available light finds objects swallowed up in the shadows. Some scenes offer moderately defined detail while others look soft. About 25 minutes in, the image flickers during a scene with a woman on the phone.

The audio is available in DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1, and Dolby Digital 2.0, and suffers from the source. Quite a number of scenes had dialogue dubbed in later and comes across as hollow and uneven. Cars can be heard racing across channels, but sounded fake at times. The rears were limited and the subwoofer was a bit underwhelming considering all the crashes involved.

Fans of Toby and his film get a few extras to explore, all of them in SD. There’s an optional introduction from his widow Denice, who seems one of the prime movers behind this release. She appears in “Life & High Times of H. B. Halicki” (45 min) – A lengthy feature about the man and the making of the film. She also appears in both interviews. “Denice Halicki E! Entertainment” (9 min) appears to be the raw footage of Denice being interviewed in conjunction with the 2000 remake starring Nicholas Cage. She’s on the other side as she interviews “Lee Iacocca Automobile Icon” (9 min) about his early days in the car business. Crewmembers cameraman Jack Vacek and editor Warner Leighton recorded the commentary for the 25th anniversary DVD release. “Car Crash King’s ‘Cut to the Chases'” presents scenes from three other of Toby’s joint production: Junkman (17 min), Deadline Auto Theft (10 min), and Gone in 60 Seconds 2 (11 min), the latter of which he didn’t finish because he was killed during the preparation of a stunt.

The restored and remastered version of Gone in 60 Seconds should please fans, but those new to the movie would be better served renting the disc and jumping straight to “the 40 minute car chase!” to determine how well they like because the entire piece is hard to sit through. There’s no connection with the characters and though there’s a lot of fast driving and cars crashing, the stunts themselves aren’t particularly memorable. The Blu-ray offers as good a presentation as may be expected, but modern audiences will likely be underwhelmed by that aspect as well.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS