The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)
While often regarded as among the weaker Bond movies, it features one of the best single-car stunts ever seen on film. Yes, we’re talking about the Astro-Spiral Jump. The stunt is an extremely difficult one to pull off as the driver jumps off a ramp, performs a 360-degree barrel roll in midair as it crosses over a river, lands on a second ramp, and drives off undamaged. The theory goes that Cubby Broccoli (producer) became aware of the stunt and was adamant that it should be in the movie.
The Blues Brothers (1980)
A rule of thumb that is generally applied to a Hollywood car chase is this: when in doubt, destroy as many police cars as possible. While it now sounds incredibly cliche, filmmaker John Landis had a way of making it appear fresh in 1980 when he wrecked more cop cars than in any previous movie, and by some distance. Add some sly dialogue and the wreckage of the Dixie Square Mall, and you have a comedy classic on your hands.
Against All Odds (1984)
Here we have an exciting car chase without any involvement from the cops and not even a single crash. The crazy race that takes place on Sunset Boulevard, LA between a Porsche 911SC and a Ferrari 308 GTS Quattrovalvole proves that such a race can provide the kind of thrills needed for a classic Hollywood race. This seamless-looking scene was shot in the early hours of consecutive Sundays when sections of the otherwise typically busy road between the 405 Freeway and UCLA could well have been closed. The driving is both precise and fast and always appears to be on the edge of control.
The French Connection (1971)
This William Friedkin-directed tale of heroin smugglers and cops battling in New York City won five Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. It was also the movie that catapulted Gene Hackman to stardom. Hackman won an Oscar for his performance, which was at its most thrilling when in a ride that sawJimmy Doyle commandeering a Pontiac Le Mans to chase down a killer speeding in an elevated train above him. It’s an exciting chase in itself, but it also fits in wonderfully with the story and helps to explain the obsessive, uncompromising, and unyielding Doyle.
A film that may not be well remembered today, What’s Up, Doc? from Peter Bogdonavich gave us one of the best comedic car chases ever seen. And it’s close to 10 minutes in duration. Much of the comedy here wouldn’t have worked at all if it wasn’t for the extremely precise driving. Spinning a VW Beetle between two buildings isn’t the easiest trick in the world. Tapping a large ladder with a Cadillac limousine’s rear fender isn’t easy, either. Stunt coordinator Paul Baxley would later choreograph numerous chases in the hit TV show, The Dukes of Hazard. And there was no shortage of chases in that show.