They don't make them like they used to.
It’s no coincidence that Baby Driver plays like a tribute to old-school car chase movies – it’s a rare example of a modern movie with practical car stunts instead of CGI. The acclaimed film is heavily inspired by director Edgar Wright’s favorite car movies, many of which were released in the 1970s. After showing some of the most overlooked car chases from the 1980s, Donut Media is back to remind us why the 1970s was the golden era of car movies with a look at some of the greatest movie car chase scenes from that era.
Of course, no list chronicling the best movie car chases from the 70s would be complete without The French Connection. Director William Friedkin wanted to stage a chase scene that set itself apart from Bullitt by having a car chasing an overhead train through the streets of New York. It still ranks as one of the most pulse pounding movie chases ever filmed, since it was shot without any filming permits.
Friedkin has since admitted it was irresponsible since they were putting lives at risk charging through traffic-filled streets at New York. The intersection crash in the chase was a real accident that wasn’t supposed to happen, either. Another highlight is Gone in 60 Seconds – the original 1974 version, not the remake starring Nicolas Cage. Starring the yellow Ford Mustang Mach 1 better known as Eleanor, it’s one of the longest movie car chases ever, lasting 35 minutes and destroying 93 cars. You have to admire director H.B. Halicki’s commitment – the final jump stunt left him crippled with a compressed spine. He never walked the same again.
Elsewhere, The Seven-Ups has arguably one of the best car chases in a film many people have probably never heard of. Created by the same director and stunt coordinator as Bullitt and the French Connection, it features two Pontiacs barrelling through the streets of New York. The setting and cars may not be as exotic as Bullitt, but we’d argue that The Seven-Ups has a more realistic chase scene with heavy traffic. The Man with the Golden Gun also deserves recognition for its daring barrel roll jump stunt which inspired the Jaguar E-Pace's record-breaking stunt, and The Driver features the first night time car chase which inspired the Driver video game series and Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver.
There are also several obscure films in that list which you probably haven’t heard of that are well worth watching. The Burglars has an impressive car chase that’s essentially Europe’s answer to Bullitt, while Blazing Magnum pits a Buick Special against Ford Mustang tearing through streets, highways, construction sites, and off-road terrain in Montreal. It’s a solid list with some underrated obscurities, but there are a few omissions. The most obvious being Vanishing Point, the 1971 road movie starring Barry Newman and a Dodge Challenger R/T. There are also a few cult films that could have made the list like Dirty Mary Crazy Larry and Freebie and the Bean.