Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG (1968)
Article #800 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-24-2003
Posting Date: 10-11-2003
Directed by Ken Hughes
Featuring Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Lionel Jeffries

An inventor tries to raise money to save a car that turns out to be magical.

Title check: Personally, I think the title is perfect for a movie about an old car that turns out to be magical; it even has a nice rhythmic feel appropriate to a musical.

As a child I had really wanted to see this movie; I had the Big Little Book and a sticker coloring book about it, and I was really hoping to see the movie when it came around to my area. I never got the chance, and I didn’t see it until many years later, and was pretty dismayed by what I saw then.

Considering the role the movie played in my personal history and my ultimate disappointment, I found myself being quite curious to see what I would think about this movie when it came up on my viewing list. For about the first third of the movie, I really didn’t see any major problems, though seeing that the movie ran a good two and a half hours made me quite apprehensive; it actually had a nice charm to it. It’s only at the halfway point that it really starts screwing up; while the first half of the movie had a light, whimsical touch to it (all it really needed was some pruning), the second half is frantic, strident, loud, overbearing and full of desperate slapstick; it was at this point that the movie became actively annoying and unpleasant. I also felt queasy about the scene where the Baron (in his pajamas) flirts with the Baroness (in what I think are supposed to be some fairly elaborate Victorian undergarments) while trying to kill her; not only is the scene totally unnecessary to the story, I also had strong misgivings as to whether it was really appropriate for children. Some of the songs aren’t too bad, but there are way too many; I think the pacing of the movie could be improved immeasurably if a good half of the songs were axed and most of the rest abbreviated somewhat; unfortunately, even that wouldn’t quite save that second half. However, I do like the design of the car (though the special effects are pretty weak for what was supposed to be a big movie) and Dick Van Dyke’s performance.

On a side note, this movie is number 800 in the series, and I couldn’t help but notice that this movie has something in common with number 700 (DR. NO); the original story is by Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond. The producer was Albert Broccoli, who was also responsible for the Bond movies, and Ken Hughes was one of the people who worked on the movie version of CASINO ROYALE.

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