Last Summer, audiences watched the update of "Gone in 60 Seconds". The film was, in my opinion, a not terribly thrilling remake, with empty action. Now, as the new film is released, the 1974 original has also been brought back to life. Director HB Halicki brought together a small budget of 1.3 million and staged one of the most impressive car chase scenes of all time.
The film also stars Halicki as Maindrian Pace, the leader of a gang of car thieves who set their sights on a particular car and within minutes, make it theirs. Their latest assignment is to get 48 cars "by Saturday" for an overseas criminal. All of the cars have their own code name, and the main target is "Eleanor".
The film occasionally feels like sitting in a waiting room waiting for the chase scenes to begin. Halicki's stunt driving is remarkable and the film certainly looks good for the rather small budget. It's unfortunate though, that the acting and dialogue is pretty corny at times leading up to the chase sequence. The chase itself is more exciting than the slick (and quick) chase that ends off the 2000 version. The fact that Halicki himself did the stunt driving and was able to organize this lengthy chase on his own is stunning. Unlike the chase in the new film, this chase just keeps going on and on throughout the city streets, crashing an enormous amount (93) of cars during the 40 minute sequence.
So-so writing and acting aside, the 1974 version of "Gone" shows that a flashy remake doesn't always top the first edition.
VIDEO: The film has been well-restored for this new DVD release. Although it's unfortunate that it is not anamorphic, it still does look very good. There are some scenes throughout that look variably soft, but for the most part, sharpness and detail are respectable for a film of its age. I noticed some minor print flaws throughout, but these stayed pretty minimal. There are some occasional small marks visible, but these aren't distracting. Grain is very light and only occasional. I didn't notice any instances of shimmering or pixelation. Colors seem a little washed out at times, but generally look natural. The restoration that has been done is solid work. There are some minor flaws still visible, but this is probably the best the film has looked in ages.
SOUND: The film is presented here in either Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS 5.1 audio. Originally with mono sound, the film's score here is apparently a new one. It sounds crisp and clear, but doesn't particularly fit in, nor does it add to the movie much. The majority of the action is in the front, although the surrounds do come into play, if mostly for the new score.
Paramount has recently offered Dolby Digital 5.1 for some older films, but they also sometimes offer the original mono soundtrack along with it. It would have been nice if that was done here to give viewers the option to hear the original audio. I really didn't hear a noticable difference between the DTS and Dolby Digital presentations. The audio in general though, is clear and free of distrortion of any kind. Dialogue is also decent sounding - clear and not edgy or flat.
MENUS:: The menu opens up with a rather lengthy animated sequence before the main menu itself, which has some music playing in the background.
Never Before Seen Footage: Additional unused footage from inside Eleanor as Halicki takes the car out for a spin, a deleted scene with the gang looking for more cars and one additional very brief scene.
Commentary: This is a commentary from both cinematographer Jack Vacek and editor Walter Leighton. The discussion is limited, but enjoyable - the two talk about the details of the production and putting the low budget feature together. Between that though, there are some noticable moments of silence. Still, the two seem like they're having quite a bit of fun remembering the stories that happened during production. I also found the tricks and tidbits about how the film was made on a low budget very interesting. It's an entertaining and informative commentary that's definitely worth a listen for fans of the movie.
Interviews: In this section you'll find interviews with car experts Lee Iacocca, Parinelli Jones, Bobby Ore and J.C. Agajanian, Jr talking about their thoughts on the film and cars in general.
Introduction: Before the movie there is an introduction by Denice Halicki, talking about her feelings on the movie. Simple, sweet, and to the point. A very nice intro to the movie.
Dolby Digital Trailer: Always nice to see - the Dolby Digital "City" trailer plays when the disc is inserted.
Photos: 24(!) photo galleries are included, and the pictures allow the viewer a very good look at what the set of the movie was like as the photos seem often informal. Some of the galleries do an excellent job of showing exactly how the stunts were achieved.
Trailers: The original "Gone" trailer as well as one for this re-release, and a trailer for another Halicki film, "The Junkman".
Also An international poster gallery along with DVD-ROM features, including a web-link.
Final Thoughts: Although the film is a bit tedious early on, the car chase is amazing for a low-budget feature. Overall, I actually liked it better than the remake. The DVD offers good general quality and some interesting extras. Worth a look at least as a rental or as a "double feature" with the remake.