Category Archives: Reviews

My Lonely Room – A Review

This book is a prequel to The Vandals. As such, it has inspired me to go back and read it again. And although classified “Y.A.,” I consider My Lonely Room a fine, worthwhile read for men or boys of any age.

The setting is Queens, New York, at the dawn of the rock & roll era. A young outcast lives in partially self-imposed exile due to selfish parents; a sadistic landlady; cliquish kids doing what kids do (only worse, in the big city); and social ineptitude deriving from arrested development.

You don’t have to be Polish, a baby-boomer, or from the Big Apple, to relate to Jimmy Yadenik. Those details merge to form a fascinating backdrop for this tale of a boy becoming a young man, and learning to play the cards he was dealt.

I should clear something up: 1950s street gangs are not to be confused with biker gangs. The latter began as clubs made up of drunken, brawling WWII vets out to have fun and abuse their newly attained civilian freedoms. Later they evolved into something uglier, but that’s another story.

Nor are 1950s street gangs to be confused with later gangs, which were more like fiefdoms in the feudal drug trade, where life is a perpetual nightmare for everyone involved–or even just in proximity.

The gang members of the 1950s were teenagers, mostly. A gang was comprised of kids from the same neighborhood, and was not envisioned as a criminal enterprise by the founders. The members often shared interests (rock & roll, for instance; girls; maybe cars), but what united them was a mutual need for protection. Protection from what? Other kids, mostly.

It’s amazing to me, but a lot of big city folks spend their entire lives in a single neighborhood. It’s been that way for a while. Kids like Jimmy Yadenik didn’t look for trouble; but when they strayed into a different ‘hood, they often found it.

Kids behave like pack animals anywhere, but stack them like sardines in tenaments, and the violence multiplies. Faced with this situation, it’s only natural kids would seek safety in numbers. Or, as the Jets sang in West Side Story:

When you’re a Jet let ‘em do what they can

You got brothers around; you’re a family man.

You’re never alone; you’re never disconnected.

You’re home with your own when company’s expected.

You’re well protected.

Sometimes a gang from the next ‘hood would invade yours. Sometimes there were two gangs in the same ‘hood. This is how turf wars got started.

Also, don’t confuse this subculture with the pampered Baby Boomer generation as a whole. Yes, midwestern James Dean wannabes dressed like thugs and tried to act tough during these years, but their “rebellion” came from petulance. No other generation in history had it so easy; had been given everything on a silver platter (except discipline); or had so little to be angry about. “Rebel without a cause” is an apt description for most of them. Or, as Marlon Brando’s character put it in The Wild One when asked what he was rebelling against: “What have ya got?”

But in the asphalt jungle, teenagers weren’t coddled, and didn’t enjoy lives of largesse. Jimmy Yadenik has a father who never bothered to teach him anything at all, much less how to be a man. The father is absent physically and emotionally. The only worth he recognizes in his son is the labor potential, so Jimmy can contribute to the weekly beer fund and the parties at the Polish Club. Jimmy’s mother is a little more humane, but still a lot more take than give. Case in point: they put Jimmy in a foster home so he wouldn’t be an inconvenience to them. As the story begins, Jimmy has just recently come to live with them again.

Perhaps the saddest part of Jimmy’s story is the way he latches onto some advice from a teacher. She gives him a truly underwhelming sample of generic, non-commital social worker talk, and it motivates him. It’s evidently the most encouragement he’s ever received from any adult in his life.

Not especially charismatic or athletic, how is Jimmy supposed to make friends with angry, messed-up kids from other dysfuntional families at school or in the neighborhood?

He acquires a girlfriend who does most of the heavy lifting for him in Love’s Learning Curve, for one thing. (If only all girlfriends could be so straightforward and accomodating.)

Secondly, he finds brotherhood (of sorts) via some streetwise boys who take him under their wings, and help him along in his journey. (If only all de facto orphans could find this kind of peer support.)

It’s certainly not the best path to manhood a boy could take, but it beats the azimuth set for him by his parents and teachers.

If you were born some time within the last half-century, you will probably find something in My Lonely Room that resonates with you.

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Slaughter City: The Sergeant #6 – a Review

When we last left Master Sergeant Mahoney and Corporal Cranepool, Patton had tried to force Eisenhower’s hand to get the war blazing along the Moselle River, so he could drive on to Berlin. But Ike called his bluff and the 33rd “Hammerhead” Division was left caught between Perdition and the deep blue sea.

Well, a deep river, anyway, and more brown than blue. With no artillery support or air cover and little in the way of supplies, the Hammerheads were thrown back across the river even though the defenders are hardly Germany’s finest.

But now, Patton has scrounged up some support, and is driving his boot into the 4th points of his subordinates to make the attack work this time.

Here’s an excerpt from a scene where Patton comes to motivate the troops personally, down at company level:

 “Now listen here, men,” Patton growled, “I know what you went through last night. A lot of your buddies were killed, and all of you nearly got killed yourselves. Now we all know that it’s no fun to lose a battle because Americans aren’t losers. By nature, we are winners. Given half a chance, we will win any battle in which we are placed. That’s because we’re tough and strong and because we love to fight. Yes, by God, we love to fight.”

Patton made a fist and held it up in the air. “We love to beat the shit out of our enemies and step on his face afterwards. We love to rip open his belly and tear his guts out. We pray for the chance to kick him in the balls and split his head open. Is there any man out here who doesn’t feel that way?”
Nobody said a word, just as Patton knew they wouldn’t.
“Good,” Patton said. “I knew there weren’t any cowards or queers in this company. I knew because you’re all good, red-blooded Americans. I know you’re just itching to get across that river over there and lay your hands on those Germans. By God, I feel sorry for those Germans when I just think about it. I really do because I can imagine what you’re going to do to them.”

Patton pointed to the Moselle River. “You’re going to make that river over there run red with their blood for what they did to you last night. There’ll be so many dead Germans over there you won’t be able to put your foot down without stepping on one of their noses. I feel bad that I have to hold you back until midnight because I know you want to go over there right now. But you have to wait just a little while longer, and I want you to use that extra time to clean your weapons and cover them with a light film of oil so they won’t get rusty. If you have some extra time after that, you can sharpen your bayonets so they’ll cut deeper into those Hun bastards over there. You might want to make sure your canteens are filled with water because you’re gonna get thirsty while you’re killing all those bastards. And as we all know, tonight is going to be much different from last night because tonight you’ll have plenty of artillery preparation and support. By the time you get across that river, those g****mn kraut-eating bastards won’t know where the hell they are. Their eardrums will be bleeding, and their brains will be upside-down in their heads. The poor bastards will probably try to run away from you, but I want you to go right after them and kill them like the dogs that they are. And I don’t want you to shoot over their heads or at their legs. I want you to aim directly for the center of their backs and bring them down. We’re not going to play with them after what they did to us last night. And they probably know it. I’ll bet they’re shitting their pants over there right now because they know they’ve made us mad, and a mad American soldier is a fearsome thing.”

There’s a lot else happening in this book, including an SS death squad using a seductress to kill GIs; a panty-raid at a USO show; both Mahoney and once-innocent farmboy Cranepool wounded in action; shooting a locomotive with bazookas, and some down & dirty urban house-to-house combat.

After a relatively slow-paced departure in the last book, Len Levinson is back on the offensive in Slaughter City, and in fine blood-splattered form.

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Broken Trail – a (Red Pill) Review

This western was probably made before there even was a “manosphere,” but those of a neomasculine perspective should find it well worth watching.

The plot premise: A rancher and his nephew strike a deal to drive a herd of horses across many miles of open range in 1898, to sell to a rancher supplying the British Army. Along the way, they run into a sleazy human trafficker transporting a wagon load of beautiful Chinese girls to a whore house. (The girls had been sold to the trafficker by their own families in China.) The trafficker rustles their horses, and is dealt with the way horse thieves were actually dealt with in those times. This leaves Print Ritter (Robert Duvall) and Tom Harte (Thomas Haden Church) burdened with the care of the human cargo.

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This film was produced as a two-part series (on AMC, I think). And it was released in this millenium. But hang onto yer hats, boys, ’cause the Chinese gals don’t turn out to be invincible Kung Fu masters who beat down the bad guys bare-handed. Nor are they “strong, independent” snowflakes who wind up as successful queens of their own cattle empires. In fact, there are only a couple points in the plot where The Narrative tries to slither into this pleasant surprise of a film–and it’s subdued enough to be overlooked. Time and again, the film makers fail to inject the current year “values” into this period piece–which makes it one big macroaggressive triggerfest.

And that’s refreshing enough all by itself.

Lo and behold, not all the villains are white male heterosexuals, either. But beyond superficial details, this cinematic tale cuts against the grain in other ways, too. There are lessons about frame, hypergamy, SMV (sexual market value) and other red pill concepts that manosphere mavens will appreciate.

Our cowboy heroes are not the illiterate, bigoted raaaaaayciss stereotypes you might expect any white male heterosexual character to be (prior to the sanctifying advent of feminism) yet neither do they turn into fawning beta white knights around the high-SMV women (in a time and place where such women were few and far between). They are men, and consistently behave as such with all parties encountered. They’ve got a job to do, and do their best to stay focussed on that despite mounting distractions.

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The Chinese women recognize not only that the cowboys are honorable, but are effective protectors and providers. You might expect (after being innundated with current year propaganda) that after being sold into slavery, treated harshly, and witnessing the rape of one of their own, a movie womyn would be hell-bent on avoiding all men until some metrosexual current-year-sensibilitied white knight came along, recognized her for the special snowflake she is, and dedicated himself to serving her perpetually while offering heartfelt apologies for any and every misunderstanding which may or may not be his fault. Yet, when the cowboys try to hand these women off so they can get back to their job, the women freak out in protest. They know a good deal when they see one, and need good men to protect them in this “savage land.”

The wild West wasn’t quite as savage as the inner cities in the current year welfare state, but I digress.

All my use of neomasculine terms to analyze this film is not, however, meant to imply that the heroes are PUAs (“pick up artists”) who use “game” to make themselves attractive to the girls. They maintain “frame,” for sure, but naturally–not as some learned technique to artificially boost SMV. Truth is, these are cowboys living before the culture became an over-sexualized idiocracy with ubiquitous entertainment mediums. The male-to-female ratio was abysmal in the old West, and most men had resigned themselves to being lifelong bachelors, or knew they would have to acquire significant resources before they could hope to attract wife material (and the culture didn’t encourage people to sleep around as it does now, either, so alpha PUAs in those times were not well regarded by society at all). In other words, the cowboys were not sex-obsessed, and the language/cultural barrier would have given them pause in this situation, however attracted they were to these damsels-in-distress.

There’s a lot more to appreciate about this film than just the socio-sexual dynamics. You should check it out.

Doom River: The Sergeant #5 – a Review

Due mostly to my schedule, my blogged reviews of this blood’n’guts war series stopped at #4. But my negligence stops, now!

Master Sergeant Mahoney and Corporal Cranepool have just returned from their attachment to a French unit liberating Paris. It was supposed to be cushy duty, but only the end of it was cushy–in the arms of some French floozies in a fancy hotel.

doomriverpaperbackThe Sergeant and his sidekick are back just in time to meet Charlie Company’s new C.O. Captain Anderson is a young, inexperienced officer, but one of the good ones (a rare combo, in my day). They’re also just in time for one of Patton’s “recon in force” missions, to push across the Moselle and keep the pressure on the Germans.

Patton is out of gas for his tanks, and frightfully low on artillery, ammo and supplies. He assumes if he is able to stir up some action, Ike will be forced to send him what he needs, so Patton can push on to Berlin and finish the war before Christmas. But Ike isn’t having it–all the supplies will be diverted to Field Marshal Montgomery, who is tasked with taking Antwerp.

(Historical note: Yes, Patton’s 3rd Army could have reached Berlin and ended the war before Christmas of ’44 if their supplies hadn’t been cut off. Also true that all those resources were given to Monty–somewhat less than a daring or decisive general–for Operation Market Garden (of A Bridge Too Far fame), which had less chance of success and, even if successful, would have had a lesser impact on the grand strategic situation. Most likely, Patton’s onslaught was intentionally delayed in order to give the Red Army time to capture the half of Europe which had been promised to Stalin by FDR at the Yalta conferences.)

So the 33rd “Hammerhead” Division conducts a river crossing at great cost, since they didn’t have much in the way of artillery support, and their men and boats are chewed up pretty bad by the German defenders. Still, they now have a beachhead from which the Wermacht has to throw them. Mahoney’s regiment bears the brunt of this counterattack.doomriverebook

The Americans are in a bad position, but Patton doesn’t like surrendering ground once he’s taken it.

This installment in the series could launch a character study on the sort of men who populate the officer corps of an army. Whether a commander wants to make a name for himself, or simply doesn’t want a sub-par evaluation, it is their troops who are used like cannon  fodder to enhance or maintain their egos.

Mahoney himself has some moments in this book in which he demonstrates more humanity than is normal for him. (Also, in this one we are introduced to PFC Butsko. I can’t help but notice the similarities between him and the platoon sergeant of The RatBastards–also named Butsko.) Still, this is a transitional phase for Mahoney, and the real plot dynamics focus on other characters.

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Speed Week Plus: American Graffiti – a Review

This installment of Speed Week Plus is a little different. There are no chase scenes and there’s only one all-out street race (not the one in the clip at the bottom of this post, which was cut short by a red light). In fact, it’s not even action adventure, but more of a dramedy. Yet American Graffiti is such an iconic film for gearheads and speed freaks of the pre-Internet generations, it just can’t be left out.

I’ve often wondered about the title–what it was supposed to mean. The only way I could connect it with the film’s content was to imagine a yearbook of the high school class the main characters belonged to (which, I guess, would fit the Dragnet-style “where-are-they-now” overlays just before the final credits. And a yearbook is actually used in the trailer below). Then I discovered the original title was “Rock Radio is American Graffiti,” and all became clear.

The film is about “cruising culture” which was ubiquitous in postwar America, right up until the gas crunch in the early ’70s I guess. What united the entire car crazy generation was rock & roll. And regional subsections of that generation were connected usually by a single personality, in the form of a radio disk jockey. In this case it’s the mysterious and almost mystical Wolfman Jack. Not only does the original title augment this theme, but in the screenplay the very first shot was not supposed to be of Mel’s Drive-In, but of a car radio dial being tuned to XERB.

Film maker George Lucas (whose only other feature to date had been the box office flop THX1138) had grown up in that generation. This movie is essentially a cinematic reminiscence of his glory days between graduating high school and packing off to film school. Two of the main characters are loosely based on Lucas himself–Kurt the aimless intellectual and Toad the nerdy braggart). The lone rebel hero (who the TV show Happy Days caraciturized into somebody called “Fonzy”) John Milner, was partially based on Lucas’ film school buddy John Millius, who went on to become a director also, despite punching out one of his professors. Average all-American boy Steve Bollander was also caricaturized on Happy Days, into Richie Cunningham (both played by Ron Howard, who also went on to become a director). And remember that annoying actress from Happy Days spinoff Laverne & Shirley? No, not her, the other one, with the dark hair. She plays Steve’s girlfriend and is not annoying at all in the role. Actually she did a fine bit of acting.

This movie was a first in many ways. Imitators cranked out nostalgic flicks well into the ’80s, trying to hitch a ride on its coat tails. The bed of vintage pop music, sometimes even with a DJ chattering over and between, became the norm in Hollywood soundtracks, nearly putting film score composers out of business until, Ironically, Lucas’ Star Wars revolutionized the film industry again. How about ensemble casts with parallel converging plotlines? That’s nearly obligatory in comedy/dramas to this day.

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Though left vague enough for any baby boomer to relate to, it’s pretty much agreed to that the story takes place in Modesto, California in 1962. On the last summer night–from sundown to sunup. Filmed just ten years after the period depicted, the simulation is done so well that even folks who were born after that era was lost forever can almost… almost “remember” those times while watching it.

I don’t know that I could effectively argue that this is an “important” film, but it certainly has had an impact on a lot of people. It can so immerse you in the milieu of postwar pre-Vietnam teenage cruising-to-rock-radio that you’ll feel a part of it even when watching it for the 45th time…then be saddened by the passing of a bygone era until you watch it again.

The possible next post for Speed Week Plus is also about a story that fuses cars with music–with a different approach, set in a different era, but with much homage to this very movie.

 

MadMax

Speed Week Plus: Mad Max – a Review

Motorized Mayhem Down Under! Time to take Speed Week Plus south of the Equator, to a continent comprised entirely of one country–and into the future, where civilization is on the verge of complete breakdown.

Imagine an Australia populated with butch, entitled women; supplicating nancy-boy males considered “men;” oppressed by a draconian police state hell-bent on gobbling up more power until farting in the privacy of your own toilet is a crime punishable by death…

Oh, wait. No need to imagine–Australia is just about there already. Imagine instead an Australia saved from that dystopian present by a nuclear holocaust and utter economic devastation. Whew!

That merciful cataclysm seems to be underway at the beginning of the original, unfeminized Mad Max.

I actually saw the sequel, Road Warrior, before I saw Mad Max. And having seen it, I just had to watch the original.

I should clarify something up front: I won’t be including Beyond Thunderdome for Speed Week Plus, and probably never will review it or the more recent Mad Maxine.

So the “thin blue line” Down Under has become razor thin, fighting a losing battle to keep civilization from toppling. Amoral, perverse gangs rule the roads, stealing whatever they want, raping whoever they want (which is pretty much anyone), and more than willing to murder and destroy in order to do it.

On the side of good is the MFP: Main Force Patrol. Just as our police have come to be known as “cops,” originally “coppers” because of the badges worn by New York policemen, these Aussie lawmen’s badges were made from a different metal, hence they are slurred as “the bronze” by the villains in this film (as well as the hero in Fast Cars and Rock & Roll, which pays homage to many films, including this one).

A very young Mel Gibson plays Max, the MFP’s star patrolman, who’s considering quitting the force and taking his family away from the madness. To bribe him into staying, the MFP makes an unofficial gift to him of “the last of the V8 Interceptors.” It’s a black-on-black Australian Ford Falcon, supercharged, with “Phase IV heads” and “Nitro.” By the end of the movie Max deputizes the Falcon Interceptor to run down the gang that murdered his family and made a vegetable of his friend Goose.

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By the way, the clutched supercharger on the Falcon was a pure fabrication sold via the magic of film editing. But Hollywood has plagiarized it with their own clutch-driven blowers in movies like My Science Project.

Director George Miller was fascinated with medical apperattus and you’ll see some on display in Mad Max and its sequel. He must have been equally obsessed with Catholic symbolism.

But the appeal of this movie is the high-octane action, and it’s got a lot. A lot of the speed scenes were undercranked to exaggerate the velocity of moving vehicles, yet it was accomplished with a subtle touch so that it doesn’t make everything comical.

That’s not to say there aren’t some laughable moments (dig that Roman Candle in the exhaust pipe)–if you watch the version with overdubbed American voices, it’s downright groan-worthy. So I recommend getting the version with the original soundtrack.

“We remember the Night Rider! And we know who you are.”

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Speed Week Plus: The Road Warrior – a Review

 Mad Max cannonballs through the wasteland in a world devolving back to the Iron Age.

Mad Max cannonballs through the wasteland in a world devolving back to the Iron Age.

 

You think you’ve seen road rage before? Let’s cruise on over to post-apocalyptic Australia for a high octane killing spree!

Mad Max was such a cult action-adventure hit, the film makers came back with a bigger budget for the sequel. In addition to launching a young actor named Mel Gibson into superstardom, it also inspired too many doomsday visionaries to count…including another film maker who would produce a time travel thriller a couple years later about a killer cyborg sent back from a future similar to this one, to assassinate the mother of a resistance movement’s leader. You may have heard of that flick. It’s called The Terminator.

In the roar of an engine he lost everything…

 

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In the first movie, Australia was on the verge of societal collapse. As this story begins, that collapse is a done deal. Max, once a good cop and happy family man, is now a lone drifter with no ambition beyond surviving in the New Dark Ages.

What we have here is actually a sort of post-apocalyptic western. Max is the jaded gunfighter who is numb to death and has nothing to lose.

The vermin of the wasteland (I guess I’ll call them VOTL for short) have tried to bushwhack him before, but he’s a little too much for them to handle. The prize they’re really lusting after, though, is a strange outpost of civilization in the wilderness.

A small community which still clings to the mores and values of non-barbaric society occupies an oil refinery, defending it with flamethrowers and pneumatic dart guns from the perverse savages who rape and murder any who attempt to break through the siege and run for freedom.

After defeating (then taking captive) a snake-charming gyrocopter pilot, Max encounters this situation just as two would-be escapees meet their gruesome fate.

The alpha-dog ruling over the VOTL barbarians is a buff baddie called Humongous. Don’t ask me where he finds his vitamins, energy drinks and steroids out there in the post-apocalyptic desert. And though he probably has plenty of time on his hands, where he finds a gym to work out in is also a mystery.

Humongous’ go-to lieutenant is an acrobatic Sodomite who puts his crosshairs on our hero early when he gets wounded during road combat with Max. Later he comes totally unglued when his butt-boy is killed by a razor-edged boomerang that belongs to “the Feral Kid.”

The R rating is strictly for the violence…plus some brief non-titillating nudity. I don’t believe there’s any cussing at all. But the violence is on an epic scale for 1981–dished out with a mixture of Medieval weapons, improvised munitions and fast machines. There are only two firearms in the film–one owned by the hero; one by the villain. The ammo supply for both is extremely limited.

 

Those fast machines are what makes this movie required viewing for Speed Week Plus. Not only is Max’s Falcon Interceptor back (with the Hollywood clutched blower) but there are other Australian musclecars and some vehicles that look like hybrid dune buggies or sand rails.

The Lord Humongous…the Ayatolah of RocknRollah!

One of the suicide machines has two engines. One of them has a crude nitrous system (“noss” for those of you who acquired all your automotive knowledge from watching the Fast and Furious flicks). Add to all that horsepower the added boost of camera undercranking , and the result is insane speed for the chase sequences.

The Road Warrior has its flaws, which become more obvious over time and repeated viewing, but it’s still a great action adventure movie that requires no more suspension of disbelief than most of the CGI/green screen enhanced claptrap Hollywood’s been churning out in the new Millennium.

This is perhaps my favorite post-apocalyptic movie. What’s yours?

Speed Week Plus: A Classic Gearhead Novel, Reviewed

I first read this book even before the speed bug bit me, and enjoyed it then. As I did become obsessed with horsepower, my affection and appreciation only grew.

Larry Cook is, superficially speaking, a stereotypical high school nerd–glasses, braces, and a talent for playing the piano. (But even before his epiphany, he shows signs of a rebellious, independent spirit via secret jam sessions covering jazz numbers by Fats Waller and other niche legends.)

Then one day Larry sees a photo of a street rod on the cover of a magazine, and his inner rebel blossoms. With the help of a teacher (an exceptionally cool teacher the likes of which I never had) he rebuilds an old Ford (a Model A, I think) into a decent performer. Then, after graduating high school (and losing the braces), he is hired as the dining hall pianist at a snooty resort hotel (kinda’ like the resort in Dirty Dancing).

Larry’s summer promises interesting developments when he meets the spoiled, gorgeous debutante Barbara Wells, her filthy-rich grandfather, and her would-be suitor: Roger the Rednecked Romeo.

But the story really takes off when Larry becomes friends with the local mechanic and drag racer Finnegan. Finnegan’s 392 Hemi-powered Green Ghost is the title vehicle. When Finnegan breaks his leg packing chutes for the Ghost, Larry must step in to drive in the upcoming drags, but without letting his hoity-toity employer…or any of the resort guests…catch wise to it.

The character interaction between Finnegan and just about everyone else is priceless (he’s an incurable wiseacre), and Williams generates a feeling that something important is at stake concerning Larry and Barbara, without ever getting even close to mushy.

BTW: Internet research has led me to believe that “Patrick Williams” is a pseudonym of none other than W.E.B. Griffin–the author of all those bulky military potboilers.

This was written for a YA audience, but I would recommend it for anyone of any age who likes street rods and drag racing. It was written in the ’60s and out of print now, but if you find it used somewhere, do pick it up!

Fantastic book for a teenage boy, especially one with an interest in fast cars, and a highly enjoyable book for men of any age, in fact.

Speed Week Plus is visiting another hemisphere next time. Wanna hint?

“Two dyes ago I sar a vehicle that could haul that tankah. You wanna get outa’ heh? You tawk ta me.”

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Speed Week Plus: Bullitt

I mentioned this chase scene recently in my post about Cobra. Despite swinging ’60s soundtrack and the advance of both special effects and automotive technology since this cop flick was made, this is still the best car chase I’ve ever seen. So help me, if somebody so much as mentions any of the abysmal Fast and the Furious movies in this context…well, just count yourself lucky that you’re not within slapping range.

Here’s some rumors and trivia I’ve picked up here and there about this famous scene:

  1. The old fart with glasses at the wheel of the Charger is a stunt man who did the actual driving for the shoot.
  2. Steve McQueen did some of the stunt driving as well. Those little throttle blips just before the upshift were him showing off.
  3. At first the suspension of both cars were tuned to handle quite well (especially considering the era and the skinny bias ply tires), but the director wanted them to skid around the corners more dramatically and so had them de-tuned again.
  4. That 440 Mopar was bone stock, as was the Dodge body/frame.
  5. The Mustang’s 390 was warmed over a little, and the chassis stiffened to handle those spine-kinking jumps.

BTW younger generation: This is what an actual Dodge Charger looks like. Those pregnant 4-door luxury sedans on the streets now? They are a result of some German engineers having a few kegs too many at Oktoberfest and mixing the ugliest body styles from both Daimler-Benz and Chrysler (and it should have been called a Coronet or something, though even the Coronets were never that ugly). Putting a badge on it that says “Charger” is just sick German humor.

Geez, a whole lot of Pontiacs get in the way of this epic vehicular battle.

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I’ve heard people say that the movie Ronin has a great chase scene. I just watched it again, and it’s a decent flick with some good driving scenes. The chases aren’t as good as this one, though I think I know why some people find it exciting. I just blogged about it last time.

Speed Week Plus: Ronin – a Review

Welcome to Speed Week Plus! You’re in the middle of a series of blog posts dedicated to a specific selection of action adventure, featuring blazing horsepower, shattered speed limits and melting tire rubber.

Up this time is Ronin, an action flick that is part caper and part espionage, with plot twists and double-crosses in all the right places. Robert DeNiro is a superb actor who is brilliant in the villain role but no sloucher as a hero, either, as proven in this movie. In this one he’s a former spook who, like a samurai without a master, must rent out his skills to make a living. He is hired along with some other “specialists” to pull a job that grows increasingly complex as the twists pile up.

It’s a solid action yarn that is well worth spending an afternoon watching. But it was recommended to me specifically for the chase scene.

To be honest I found the car chase rather unremarkable. Its popularity probably has a lot to do with the body count in vehicular destruction, and the now obligatory driving-into-oncoming-traffic segment.

Anyway, the car chase is above for your viewing pleasure and you can decide for yourself how good it is.

I agree with Jean Reno, BTW: De Niro should have just shot her. But then there wouldn’t be an excuse to flog these European luxury sedans through traffic for eight minutes.

This is actually an idiosyncratic selection for me. Stay tuned to watch some American iron raising hell next time.