Gone in 60 Seconds/The Junkman (1974/1982)
By: Mr Intolerance on October 19, 2010  | 
Beyond | Region 4, PAL | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 185 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: HB Halicki
Starring: Eleanor, HB Halicki, Marion Busia, George Cole, James McIntyre, Jerry Daugirda, Parnelli Jones, JC Agajanian, Gary Bettenhausen
Screenplay: HB Halicki
Country: USA
External Links
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Ahh, the car-chase movie. Some people don't rate 'em, but I love the absolute adrenaline-charged thrill-packed roller-coaster-ride they provide, so when the opportunity to review this hi-octane duo of films came up, I leapt at the chance.

Gone In 60 Seconds

If there was ever a film that defined the expression "triumph of the human spirit", Gone In 60 Seconds is it. Stunt driver HB Halicki wrote, directed, produced and starred in this film, as well as doing all of his own stunts, which resulted in him compacting 10 vertebrae, among other various injuries in a film that in its 34 minute jaw-clenching, knuckle-whitening finale totals 93 cars. Yeah, it's that good – and I cannot think of a better advertisement for the durability of the 1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1.

The plot of Gone In 60 Seconds is pretty simple: Maindrian Pace (Halicki) is offered $400,000 to steal a very specific list of cars, by a South American drug lord. He has five days to do so, funnelling the cars through his illegal chop-shop, replacing license plates and engine serial numbers, to make the cars seem that little bit more legal. To be bluntly honest with you, the first two-thirds of Gone In 60 Seconds border on the tedious, with a lot of bad acting (director Halicki apparently cast friends and family so that he could put more cash into the cars and the final chase scene – and if you really want some trainspotting, nerd-type stuff, that's actually the then-Mayor of Carson County and some real Fire Department and Emergency Response vehicles you can see) and very little action, although there are a few neat car chases. The reason why you should buy this film (and if you're any fan of exploitation films, you should) is the final 34 minute car-chase that simply defines the word "awesome". If you're thinking of the car chases in films like Bullitt, The French Connection or The Blues Brothers – stop messing with the amateurs and see how it's really done. It only struck me after watching the film, the sheer skill it takes to nail someone, gobsmacked, to their sofa for over half an hour needs to be recognised and then saluted.

When you get to the sequence when Pace leaps Eleanor (the bright yellow 1973 Ford Mustang Mach One I was talking about) 30 feet high and over 128 feet long (after which Halicki never walked the same again), you will see how stunt driving is done, my friend. Or rather, was done. These days, it'd all be done on computers – and would look shit. The low budget, gangbusters style this film has really adds to it's impact and despite the wooden-mouthed acting styles (witness the scene where Pace and his pals find the heroin in the back of the Lincoln and try covering it up to the cops) and the corny dialogue and the terrible clothes, it packs one hell of a wallop.

The Junkman

From the confused mess that is the introduction to the film – Harlan Hollis (Halicki) is a junkyard owner who made it big and lost his young, pretty, doe-eyed wife, Helen. A car is stolen and then a chase begins, which is exactly what the doctor ordered. I do have to say, it's quite difficult at this point to work out at first if The Junkman is merely a self-referential vanity reel or a feature film. Reason I say that is because Hollis is under threat from his business partner, just on the eve of releasing Gone In 60 Seconds. Huh? And indeed, the car chase we've already seen is actually meant to be part of a reshoot for the film, although that's not quite so obvious at first.

And so Harlan has a new problem – hired goons. In the intervening years between the two films, the acting, it must be said, hasn't gotten any better, although Halicki's not too bad. The camerawork thankfully has improved, as when you're dealing with a film that is based around the notion of spectacle, what's happening with the camera is obviously important.

Once the goons turn up, the film, which truth be told has really just been idling until this point, goes immediately into overdrive as the chase begins, with Harlan being buzzed by a machine-gun toting, grenade-dropping biplane. Car chases are cool, but car chases with machine guns and grenades are even cooler. Particularly when it would appear that Halicki is going all out to better his already impressive record of vehicular carnage. It would also appear that Halicki gave very careful thought to the number of different ways that he could destroy a car – there's certainly some variety in that regard. Once the big chase is over, however, the film kind of peters out as Harlan tries to work out who's behind the assassination attempt. But then again, it was always going to be hard to beat – although his novel mode of escape in the parking lot in his yellow 'vette is pretty neat.

And yet again, Halicki managed to injure himself when part of the wing of one of the pursuing planes went through his windshield. That said, The Junkman has some really quite impressive stunts – not the least of which involves jumping a car over a moving plane. Yes, you read that correctly – Halicki pilots a car over a moving biplane. Then there's the house that was specifically built so that Halicki could drive his car through it, before blowing it up, keeping the fire going by throwing hundreds of gallons of kerosene at it. Yeah, if it's old school stunts you're after, this is a film for you. There's no way any modern-day film maker would have the balls to attempt doing some of the (downright illegal) stuntwork you see on display in The Junkman.

Oh, and for the movie trainspotters out there – if you'd ever wondered why that sheriff in Kill Bill had all those different pairs of shades on his dashboard, it's a QT homage to these films.

Sadly, Halicki died during the filming of a stunt for Gone In 60 Seconds 2 – the world lost a man with a passion for what he did, and the ability to perform. RIP, Toby.
Both films are presented in full-frame 4:3, which isn't so bad apart from the fact that in The Junkman the cropping makes the opening montage almost incomprehensible – and the fact that some action happens off screen in a few places. Picture quality is pretty good on both, which is an improvement on previous releases of Gone In 60 Seconds, certainly.
Unfortunately, this, and every other release of Gone In 60 Seconds features a new audio track without the original sound effects or score. This is no fault of the distributor. Still, it's worth getting the film, even in this compromised version, because that final car-chase is so damned good. Matter of fact, while I was researching this, I found out that apparently The Junkman is also sans its' original score, having had it sadly replaced with a rather generic synth/funk score – and as you watch the film, it becomes more readily apparent that something here is amiss, particularly when you see bands playing and they're obviously miming to something completely different.
Extra Features
Gone In 60 Seconds has a range of different Extras on feature – original trailers, interviews with some of "the Wrecking Crew" (Halicki's partners in crime), a behind-the-scenes picture gallery and some never-seen-before footage (some of which lacks audio). The Junkman has original trailers, a Making Of featurette (don't watch this until after the movie), some trailers and a menu where you can jump to your favourite bit of automotive mayhem. Oh, and Gone In 60 Seconds comes with an introduction by Halicki's widow, Denice Halicki.
The Verdict
Look, it's worth getting for Gone In 60 Seconds – The Junkman is a pretty substantial, if ultimately anticlimactic bonus. It's a pretty good set, though, and until a new one comes around with both films in their OAR, you could do a lot worse than pick this up.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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