Greatest Chase Scenes
in Film History

1972 - 1974

Greatest Film Chase Scenes
Title Screen
Film Title/Year and Description of Chase Scene

The Master Touch (1972, It./Germ., released in 1974 in US) (aka Un uomo da rispettare)

In this Euro-thriller crime-heist, Kirk Douglas (as ex-con safe-cracker Steve Wallace) wanted to commit the perfect crime -- by defeating a fool-proof safe in Germany and absconding with its $1 million dollars.

In the midst of the heist was a destructive car-chase between Mafia lieutenant-hitman (Romano Puppo) and circus gymnast Marco (Giuliano Gemma) - before the days of special-effects and CGI. During the dare-devil pursuit, one car pushed another backwards down steep stairs, both cars crashed into and crunched a third-car between them, and while the two cars were side-swiping each other, a third car being towed atop a truck next to them landed on top of their two cars, etc. The chase ended when one of the two wrecked cars became stuck on a rising drawbridge, and crashed backwards into a steel wall, killing its driver.

[In terms of continuity errors, the two-door 1957 Plymouth changed into a 4-door 1960 Dodge Dart!]

Live and Let Die (1973)

It seems that every Bond film has some version of a spectacular chase sequence.

In this 8th film, the 007 agent (Roger Moore in his first Bond film) escaped from the clutches of villainous Dr. Kananga's (Yaphet Kotto) thugs at his Louisiana processing/packing facility (disguised as a crocodile farm). He fled in a high-powered Glastron speedboat powered by an Evinrude outboad motor into the nearby Louisiana bayou. Kananga's thugs (summoned from another dock) also pursued in high-powered speedboats at the start of the extended pursuit sequence. The local redneck Sheriff J. W. Pepper (Clifton James) was in the middle of arresting henchman Adam (Tommy Lane) for speeding on a strip of land, when Bond's speedboat did a leap into the air over the Sheriff's car before landing back in the water.

One of the thugs' errant boats plowed into the Sheriff's car, and another ended up in a swimming pool when Bond decided to ditch his boat (when it ran out of gas) on land and steal another one. Adam escaped and drove to a Ranger station where he stole the speed-boat belonging to the Sheriff's brother-in-law Billy Bob to join the pursuit. Bond's boat briefly skidded on the bank and passed a wedding ceremony, but the boat behind him crashed into the reception tent. Adam was left as the sole pursuer by water.

Multiple wrecks occurred when both boats crossed the highway in front of four state police cars involved in the chase. After Adam was blinded by Bond with a mixture of chemicals thrown into his face, his out-of-control boat collided with a docked derelict ship and exploded.

The Seven-Ups (1973)

This underrated film featured a heart-pounding, tire-squealing, ten-minute chase sequence through city streets and busy intersections (and onto city sidewalks with spectacular images of smashed vendor fruit crates). In one segment, both cars careened through a street filled with screaming schoolchildren, and later the cars went airborne during downhill pursuit. Both cars also crashed through a police barricade set up at the entrance to a bridge.

The chase was between two Pontiac vehicles driven by: tough, renegade NYC detective Buddy Manucci (Roy Scheider) in a beige 1973 Pontiac Ventura Sprint Coupe in pursuit of two criminals (Richard Lynch and stuntman Bill Hickman) in a black Pontiac Grand Ville. The chase eventually emerged outside NYC in open country, where the bad guys rode closely in front of a Greyhound bus and blasted Manucci with a shotgun when he started to pass - causing his car's hood to detach.

The exciting sequence ended with the violent and crushing impact of the Ventura Sprint Coupe into the rear-end of a parked 18-wheeler trailer truck - causing the possible decapitation of Manucci - although he ducked and avoided serious injury.

[This car chase mirrored the ones in Bullitt (1968) and The French Connection (1971).]

Westworld (1973)

The lengthy, relentless almost dialogue-less chase sequence at the film's finale was spectacular.

The villainous, glitchy, rogue cyborg gunslinger (Yul Brynner) clad in black relentlessly pursued and stalked desperate newbie park visitor Martin (Richard Benjamin). The chase was first on horseback across the entire Westworld-Delos amusement theme park, and then into adjoining Medieval World.

To combat the robot, it was doused in the face with hydrochloric acid, resulting in the robot having to use its heat-seeking, infra-red senses to locate Peter (this was the first use of computer digitized (pixellated) images in film history, to simulate the robot's red-tinted POV).

Then, the gunslinger was set on fire with a flaming torch and eventually was charred to a smoldering crisp and suffered a lethal short-circuit.

Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974)

In this 'B' level car-chase film, washed-up stock car/NASCAR racers Larry Rayder (Peter Fonda) and Deke Sommers (Adam Rourke) robbed a small-town grocery store manager (Roddy McDowall) of $150,000, and then fled in a 4-dr. 1967 Chevy, and along the way picked up spunky, sexy and slutty Mary Coombs (Susan George) for the ride in another vehicle - a souped-up fluorescent yellow-green 1969 Dodge Charger R/T with a 440 cubic inch V-8 engine, sporting prominent black side striping.

Patrol car trooper Hanks (Eugene Daniels) in Car #10 (a 1972 Dodge Polara 440 V-8) and Sheriff Everett Franklin (Vic Morrow) in a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter maniacally pursued them across dusty rural roads amidst fruit trees in California, incurring some close-calls and smash-ups - the patrolman's "hot pursuit" was stopped by a falling telephone pole.

The film featured an explosive and fiery finale when Larry, Deke and Mary crashed into a moving freight train, as Larry boasted:

"Ain't nothin' gonna stop us!"

Freebie and the Bean (1974)

Freebie and the Bean has since been voted as one of the most mindless, sloppy, wantonly-destructive car-chase films of all-time. The film's title referred to the names of two wise-cracking, bigoted, violent San Francisco buddy cops-detectives in this prototypical, un-PC action-comedy:

  • Freebie (James Caan), an amoral, unorthodox and crazed driver
  • "Bean" (Alan Arkin), a Latino family man, hot-tempered and by-the-book, who suspected his wife (Valerie Harper) was having an extra-marital affair

In their pursuit of mobster Red Meyers (Jack Kruschen) in a blue car, there were a number of damaging car wrecks, pedestrian injuries and/or casualties, destruction of public property, and harmed innocent bystanders - including members of a marching band in a parade.

[It was a West Coast version of The Seven-Ups (1973) from a year earlier.]

The many crashes foreshadowed those that would come later in The Blues Brothers (1980). The memorable chase concluded on the elevated Embarcadero Freeway. Their cop car lost control and crashed from the over-pass into the 3rd floor of an apartment building next to the freeway, and landed in a bedroom where there was an elderly couple watching television. After the two cops crawled out of the wreckage, Freebie phoned the precinct to send out a tow-truck to Apartment 304: "It's on the third floor." The elderly man reacted as the cops left his apartment: "Television is getting too violent."

In another insanely hectic chase scene that involved crashing cars, crumpled fenders, destroyed sidewalk stands, a motorbike, a van, and scores of pedestrians, Freebie became frustrated by snarled wreckage (including an overturned truck with chicken coops), so he hijacked a red motor-dirt bike from its rider and chased after the van. He drove down a sidewalk filled with people, steered over the tops of stalled cars, and then did 'wheelies' as he took a short-cut through a park, and careened through an art fair - toppling a giant-sized set of dominoes.

The chase finally concluded with Freebie jumping off the motorbike just before it sailed off a second story building to the street below, where the van had crashed moments earlier.

Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

This low-budget independent cult classic told about a gang of professional car thieves, including undercover insurance investigator Maindrian Pace (director/writer/star H.B. "Toby" Halicki) who made a bid to steal 48 cars (involving Mustangs, Cadillac limousines, and Rolls-Royces) for a South American drug lord. It included an almost 40-minute car-chasing finale (in a 98 minute film) that allegedly took seven months to film, involving a yellow (and black striped) 1973 Ford Mac 1 Mustang (nicknamed 'Eleanor'), and ending up with 93 car wrecks through five L.A.-basin towns (including Long Beach) in an exciting police pursuit sequence. There was also a spectacular 30-foot jump over a prior car-wreck that cleared 128 feet.

[Followed by two sequels, The Junkman (1982) and Deadline Auto Theft (1983). Remade by producer Jerry Bruckheimer in 2000 with Nicolas Cage and Angelina Jolie as Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), with its final car chase, a 1967 Shelby Mustang GT500 being pursued by black BMW 5 Series police cars.]

The Man With the Golden Gun (1974, UK)

In one of the film's best sequences, James Bond (Roger Moore) robbed a jazzy red AMC Hornet Hatchback from a dealership in Bangkok, Thailand, drove it through the showroom's glass windows, and onto the streets of the bustling city, in order to rescue his inept, kidnapped fellow agent Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland).

After missing a turn in his pursuit of villain Scaramanga's (Christopher Lee) bronze, black-roofed two-door AMC Matador, in a most impressive car stunt (accompanied by a laughable, cartoonish slide whistle sound), Bond's vehicle made a spectacular, Evel Knievel-like, 360-degree, mid-air, corkscrew-turning loop-jump or roll-over above a broken, half-fallen bridge and landed upright on its tires on the other side of the canal. His passenger, redneck Louisiana Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James), who was sitting in the car and demanding a demonstration test drive before being taken on the chase, was tossed into the back seat and exclaimed: "Wowee! I never done that before!" Bond replied: "Neither have I, actually."

[This scene would be semi-reprised in A View to a Kill (1985), when Bond (also Moore) would drive a car through the streets of Paris, until it was reduced to just the front half!]

Greatest Classic Chase Scenes in Film History
(chronological, by film title)
Intro | 1903-1966 | 1967-1971 | 1972-1974 | 1975-1978 | 1979-1983
1984-1989 | 1990-1997 | 1998-2002 | 2003-2006 | 2007-now

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