Friday 19th January is National Popcorn Day in the USA. But why should America have all the fun? Here at Lookers, we think we should celebrate National Popcorn Day too. Which is why we’ve put together a Top Ten of the best car films for you to enjoy with a big ol’ bowl of popcorn! Take a look to see which ones made our shortlist.
Smokey and The Bandit – Perhaps the ultimate road movie, the original Smokey and The Bandit has become something of a cult classic and a regular fixture of the daytime movie schedules. Essentially a tale of truckers outrunning the law, Smokey and The Bandit is an easy-going piece of viewing which has plenty going for it besides Burt Reynolds’ moustache and some frankly bizarre dialogue, e.g. “There’s no way, no way that you came from my loins. Soon as I get home, first thing I’m gonna do is punch yo mamma in da mouth!” Indeed.
Back to The Future – Not strictly a car film but it did cement the DeLorean’s place in popular culture, making it the coolest thing on two wheels since the Batmobile. They may not have needed roads where they were going but they certainly needed the iconic DeLorean.
The Italian Job – A no-brainer at number three, The Italian Job (that’s the Michael Caine original and not the all-mouth-no-trousers Mark Wahlberg remake) remains a visual joy. Sumptuous Italian streets and lots of Minis? What’s not to like? A truly famous film for a handful of scenes, it’s worth reminding yourself of its charms every so often.
Duel – Another truck-themed entry, Duel would really struggle to be more different from Smokey. The second ever feature film from the world’s best known director, Steven Spielberg, Duel is the simple, creepy tale of a driver being stalked through the American wilderness by a bloody-massive truck and its unseen driver. Hasn’t that happened to us all? No? Oh.
Gran Torino – Clint Eastwood may spend a disproportionate amount of his time talking to empty chairs these days but let us not forget that he’s actually a damn fine director and actor, with Gran Torino standing alongside Million Dollar Baby as his master work. Not for the sensitive or faint of heart, Gran Torino is a brilliant showcase not only for Eastwood, but also for the power of cars and passion to bring people together through adversity.
Days of Thunder – Essentially Top Gun on tarmac, Days of Thunder sees Tom Cruise at his 80s best as a stock car driver who gets his chance to race in NASCAR. Criticised for some typical 80s excesses (and Nicole Kidman playing a brain surgeon who rides a motorbike without a crash helmet), Days of Thunder is still an exhilarating piece of action cinema.
Rush – Released in 2013, this film documents the rivalry between Formula One race car drivers in the 1970s, James Hunt and Niki Lauda. It’s a crowd pleaser, with the fast, sleek, vintage F1 cars of that era zooming across the screen, taking centre stage. Director, Ron Howard, managed to get a lot of the original race cars from that period to use on the film which results in an authentic depiction of Formula One at that time.
Thelma & Louise – Thelma & Louise follows two best mates who travel across America in a 1966 Ford Thunderbird Convertible. Fleeing men, the law and their dreary lives in Arkansas, it becomes a tale of female empowerment and is now a classic feminist film. The breathtaking scenery of the American landscape complements the fast paced plot which leads to one of the most iconic endings in cinema and stunningly showcases the gorgeous Ford Thunderbird Convertible in all its glory.
Taxi Driver – What could be better than an iconic New York yellow taxi? A young, moody Robert De Niro driving a New York yellow taxi? Correct. To prepare for his role as the insomniac taxi driver, Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro obtained a taxi licence and drove the streets of New York throughout the night for weeks before filming began. His preparation resulted in an amazing performance of a troubled war veteran who aims to clean up the ‘filthy city’ of New York by any means.
As we failed to find a trailer or clip from the film free from swearing or various other offensive things, we thought we’d include this picture of Bobby De Niro looking mean and moody, driving a taxi instead. Enjoy!
The Herbie Franchise – From the violence and horror of Taxi Driver, you can’t get much different than this film. We couldn’t do a top ten list without one for the kids and the Herbie movies and TV shows have endured over decades. The 1963 Volkswagen Beetle made its first appearance in the 1968 feature film, The Love Bug, and has continued to delight audiences ever since. In the most recent reincarnation, in the 2005 film Herbie: Fully Loaded, (which was unbelievably 13 years ago!) Herbie falls in love with a new yellow Volkswagen Beetle. Cute!
So there you have it, our selection of ten of the best films to enjoy this weekend to celebrate National Popcorn Day. Doubtless there are plenty of other popular choices out there so why not tell us which films we’ve sped past and why they deserve a place in the driving film hall of fame?