Thursday, November 3, 2016

When good cars go bad

So I was stupid enough to forget to turn off the blinking hazard lights on my car. I turn them on when I come home from work and stop at the mailbox to get out and get the mail. 5:30 this morning I get in the car to go to work, and the dome light is suspiciously dim. Sure enough, I try to start the car, and nothing. Shit!

Anyhow, it got me to thinking about car problems in movies. There are lemons of course, as in the Crime Does Not Pay short Coffins on Wheels, but that's not what I have in mind. Unfortunately, Coffins on Wheels doesn't seem to be on Youtube. In a similar vein, there are cars that are deliberately sabotaged to try to kill the driver; Angel Face and Kiss Me Deadly both come to mind. Or the bus that couldn't go slow in Speed. Or Eddie Murphy sticking a banana in the tail pipe in the first Beverly Hills Cop movie.

Cars having breakdowns from normal use? I'd have to think longer about that. Running out of gas would be one thing, but that's kind of cheating. I suppose brakes go bad all the time to make rides down mountains either more terrifying or more comedic, depending on the film's genre. The Wages of Fear would be a good example of the former, while The Long, Long Trailer would be a good example of the latter.

One scene that I'm particularly reminded of is in Alfred Hitchcock's Sabotage. Bob Cummings uses fan blades to try to break the links in his handcuff chains, while Priscilla Lane tries to flag down passing people, of whome there aren't many since it's an isolated road. One older couple does pass by and gives one of Hitchcock's great black-comedy lines, which I won't spoil for you.

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