Tuesday, November 28, 2006
As I was writing my post the other day about cartoons and animated movies I mentioned the movie Cars. It occurred to me then that there are an awful lot of TV shows and movies out there in which cars have been given distinct personalities. I'm not talking about the General Lee, though some might argue that car has personality. No, I mean cars with actual consciousness. Probably the first TV show that featured the kind of cars I'm talking about was 1965's My Mother the Car. This show was comedy starring Jerry Van Dyke (brother to Dick) as David Crabtree. He hears his mother talking to him through the radio of an old 1928 Porter and realizes that his Mother has been reincarnated into the car. No one else can hear her, so of course most everyone thinks he's crazy. This show came out at a time when a lot of other shows featured supernatural storylines, like Bewitched and My Favorite Martian. And though at the time it was widely panned as one of the worst shows on TV, it has become a kind of sentimental favorite to many. Steven King wrote of a possessed car as well, though of a much more malevolent kind in Christine, which was later turned into a movie directed by John Carpenter. The book describes the car, a 1958 Plymouth Fury (appropriate car wouldn't you say) as having been possessed by the spirit of a guy named Roland LeBay, though the movie portrays the car as simply evil. I also remember a movie that was similar to Christine that I saw as a kid that scared the crap out of me called simply The Car. There's very little to this movie other than it's a customized 1971 Lincoln Continental Mark III that runs people down for no apparent reason. The movie never specifies why the car is evil, if it's possessed or otherwise. Though I believe this was meant to be based on the movie The Duel by Stephen Spielberg, that time with an inexplicably evil Peterbilt Truck. Disney took the idea of a car with a mind of its own and made it into a kid friendly franchise with the Herbie movies of the late 60's through the early 80's and the most recent incarnation with Lindsay Lohan in Herbie Fully Loaded. Herbie, as you all probably remember, was the lovable Volkswagen Bug that had it's own personality and abilities far beyond that of a regular Bug. I've never heard that any kind of "possession" was attributed to Herbie, he just simply was a car with its own consciousness. Another family friendly magical car was featured in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang based on a book written by James Bond author Ian Flemming for his son. The movie starred Dick Van Dyke and had many fantasy sequences in which the car flew. I haven't seen it in so long I can't remember if the car was actually supposed to be able to fly or if it was merely imaginary. Hopefully someone can enlighten me. One of my all time cheesy favorites was the 80's classic Knight Rider; another David Hasselhoff masterpiece. The car in Knight Rider was known as Kitt, or the Knight Industries Two Thousand. Kitt was given its somewhat sarcastic personality through Artificial Intelligence and was used as a crime fighting weapon of sorts. I really did love Knight Rider, I think the car's sarcasm appealed to me even then. After all, who doesn't want to give "The Hoff" a verbal smackdown now and then? Cars are often a big part of film and TV, from The Dukes of Hazzard to movies like Bullitt we've always had a love affair with cars. But there is something a little extra special about movies and TV shows that have cars with animated personalities. At least I've always thought so. ;) As always, tell me what you think.