A look at the history of car chases in film.
Car chases have been a staple in movies since practically the beginning. The scenes get the viewers’ adrenaline pumping, helping to draw the audience in and leave them hovering on the edge of their seat. Thanks to advancing technologies, a whole different breed of car chases has been featured in films. In some cases, they even support entire franchises.
While car chases are an action movie staple, as noted by Insider, certain sequences left their mark in the cinematic history books.
Buster Keaton was a pioneer in the car chase arena, but 1924’s Sherlock Jr. went above and beyond, featuring cars, trains, and motorcycles. It even includes a shot where Keaton, who performed his own stunts, appears to barely avoid a collision with an oncoming train.
In fact, the infamous shot was filmed in reverse, creating an incredibly memorable scene while mitigating the safety risk.
Bullitt, released in 1968, Steve McQueen tore through the incredibly hilly streets of downtown San Francisco, with the vehicles reaching speeds of 110 mph.
After three weeks of filming, the resulting scene is nearly 10 minutes long.
In 1971, The French Connection hit theaters. Gene Hackman’s character races to track down a train and many of the crashes featured in the film were entirely real.
The film ultimately won the Best Picture Oscar.
Car chases and comedy can also work well together, giving these exciting moments homes in fun-filled movies.
The Blue Brothers, released in 1980, included a car chase through a shopping mall, which filmmakers rented out for the unique scene.
In the 2006 film Children of Men, a custom rig allowed for an innovative perspective during a nearly four-minute car chase. It’s an ingenious blend of special and practical effects, with the use of CGI being hardly noticeable to the audience.
Mad Max: Fury Road, the 2015 film, was loaded with epic car chases that leaned heavily on actual vehicles and explosions instead of CGI.
The Fast and the Furious series made a name for itself thanks to its car chases. As the movies began to make their mark on viewers, the budget for the next film generally grew.
Overall, the entire franchise is filled with memorable car chase moments, making it incredibly popular with fans of the action genre.