By on March 27, 2020

1977 Chrysler New Yorker in Denver junkyard, grille - ©2020 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

I don’t profess to be a filmmaker, but were I to one day find myself behind the camera, I’m pretty confident I’d come up with something better than 75 percent of the mediocrity I see on Netflix. And you can bet there’d be a car component. No fast cutting during the action sequences, either.

As I sit here watching the detective in The Valhalla Murders pilot her grey Tiguan across the bleak and snowy Icelandic landscape, I think about the on- and off-road duels that haven’t yet made it to the big screen… and wonder which matchup I’d prefer to see first.

Given the sheer volume of films released over the past century and change, you’d think there’d be a great deal more famous matchups.

Think about it — minus the deluge of obscure (and generally low quality) European chase flicks that proliferated in the 1970s, the number of truly famous on-screen chases can probably be counted on one hand. Ask someone who’s a movie and car buff and the tally might encompass two hands. Not a lot of titles.

Any number of makes and models are missing out on a chance to flaunt their on-road prowess and prove their mettle against a worthy adversary. Where’s that longed-for AMC Eagle vs Jeep Grand Wagoneer battle? That never-filmed joust between a Jaguar XJS and first-gen BMW 8 Series? A Supra and F-Type?

Contour vs Corsica???

As we collectively shelter in place (self-isolate? Socially distance? Hide?), what missing on-screen matchup would you most like to see made a reality?

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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20 Comments on “QOTD: Somebody Does It Better?...”

  • avatar

    Blazer/Bronco/Jeep Comanche battle it out both on and off-road. Three legendary off-roaders compete for king of the world :)

    I need to get out more :(

    • 0 avatar

      That would be fun to watch.

      I recall reading about an auto journalist that actually showed up on the job; he was covering the Baja 1000 in the 1970s and rode with Bill Stroppe in his Bronco. The highlight of his article was about an incident that showed how focused Stroppe was. At one point the Bronco lunged over a drop-off and did an endo in mid-air. Stroppe had the presence of mind to *downshift in mid-air* to be ready to run if they landed wheels-up. Needless to say the journo was out of his comfort zone. Putting go-pros on a vehicle like that wouldn’t require actors or special effects, just edit for context and let the action speak for itself.

    • 0 avatar

      So… there is an episode of the American Top Gear where this literally happens (except the jeep is a CJ). It is not particularly realistic since some scenes are definitely scripted and staged, but it is entertaining. Its worth an hours of your time.

  • avatar

    There was a fictional movie about an earthquake in Los Angeles that debuted in 1974. As I recall it was just named “Earthquake”. Near the beginning there was a chase scene where they mounted a camera low down on the front of one of the cars. The perspective was disorienting and almost made you nauseous; suffice to say it was an effective technique. The chase ended with a crash into a hedge allegedly owned by Zsa Zsa Gabor (rolls eyes).

    • 0 avatar

      That whole movie was kind of nauseous, with the thundering “Earthquake” base speakers in all the theaters

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah it was, with hambone acting and a juvenile plotline. It was peak disaster movie era with Towering Inferno and The Poseidon Adventure. And disco music. Malaise era indeed.

        • 0 avatar
          R Henry


          And “Airport.”

          I had a good laugh a few years after “Airport” was released.

          I was standing at the United Airlines arrivals curb at LAX late one night, waiting for a ride, and standing next to me was….George Kennedy, the actor who starred in “Airport.”

          • 0 avatar

            Mr Kennedy also had a turn as a T.V. actor in a police series called “Bumper” about a beat cop in L.A., adapted from a Joeseph Wambaugh book .

            I miss him he made lots of B & C grade films no one will ever remember .

            When I worked in North Hollywood I’d see him eating lunch with his grand children in the…. ? COCO’s” not far from the No. Ho. Kaiser hospital .

            R.I.P. Sir .


          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Dragline. A much underappreciated actor. Served 16 years in the US military retiring as Captain. The story is that he served as some sort of consultant on the Phil Silvers Show and they eventually cast him in a small role.

            He was Bumper Morgan in The Blue Knight. A show that My Old Man felt was believable, at least in the first few episodes. That and Barney Miller.

            Also co-starred with Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges in Thunderbolt & Lightfoot featuring a nice Buick. Rarely seen on TV anymore.

            Dragline on Luke: “He was smiling… That’s right. You know, that, that Luke smile of his. He had it on his face right to the very end. Hell, if they didn’t know it ‘fore, they could tell right then that they weren’t a-gonna beat him. That old Luke smile. Oh, Luke. He was some boy. Cool Hand Luke. Hell, he’s a natural-born world-shaker.”

      • 0 avatar
        MRF 95 T-Bird

        I remember seeing Earthquake as a teen in my local single plex suburban theatre. The vibrating speakers “Sensaround” were kind of low tech. That along with the overacting Charlton Heston was peak disaster movie era. Many film critics thought of them as metaphors for the Watergate post Vietnam era.

  • avatar

    That’s easy. A GSX-R 1000 and a Ninja ZX-10R, through the streets of San Francisco.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Contour would bury a Corsica unless maybe it was a straight Interstate chase or an OJ style one.

  • avatar

    Pretty close, Frank Cannon, in Lincoln Continental vs Bad Guy in Ford Bronco across desert. That happened several times.

  • avatar

    To me it seems every time a director needs a fast car for the ‘strong, silent type’ of hero, they always use a Mustang. Nothing against the ‘Stang (and I love Bullit) but I’d like to see a movie car chase between a Porsche 911 and a Corvette! Or any Euro car against a Corvette (preferably the new C8) Now that would get me to tune in!

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    As I have posted previously the UK cop show/crime movies of the 50’s to 70’s. Nothing like watching a Cortina sedan allegedly ‘racing’ around.

    They must have cordoned off the streets so you couldn’t see the pedestrians pushing baby strollers (prams) travelling about as fast.

    The best car commercial of recent years. The bad guys always drive Jaguars. Well worth a watch.

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