Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) Information

Gone in 60 Seconds is a 1974 American action film written, directed, produced by, and starring H.B. 'Toby' Halicki. It centers on a group of car thieves and the 48 cars they must steal in a matter of days. The film is famous for having wrecked and destroyed 93 cars in a 40-minute car chase scene. This is the basis for the Gone in Sixty Seconds starring Nicolas Cage, Angelina Jolie and of course "Eleanor" reprises her role.


Maindrian Pace (H.B. 'Toby' Halicki) is an intelligent, respectable insurance investigator who runs a quality auto chop shop in Long Beach, California. What very few know is that he is the leader of a group of professional car thieves which steal cars around the town and sell it remodeled for a good price.

One day, a South American drug lord arrives at Pace's office and offers him $400,000 to steal 48 specific cars to be delivered to the Long Beach docks within five days. The cars are all very high-end, ranging from Mustangs and Cadillacs to limousines and race vehicles, making the order quite difficult to fill it under the time limit, but Pace still wants to get the money.

Mapping out a basic strategy, the gang begins to scout out their targets which have all been given female names. One example is a yellow 1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1, receiving the code name "Eleanor". Being part of the insurance industry, Pace does have one small idiosyncrasy when it comes to stealing: All of the cars stolen by the gang must be insured, because Pace wants to make sure the owners get the insurance for the cars.

The thieves carry out their plan easily at first but run into a couple of obstacles. First, a white Cadillac that the gang steals is revealed to have several kilos of heroin stashed in the trunk. Against his brother-in-law Eugene's suggestion to sell the heroin on the side, Pace has the Cadillac and its contents burned at a remote location. Then they discover that the "Eleanor" they stole is not insured after its owner posts a notice on the local newspaper. After pleas from his fiancťe Pumpkin Chace he decides, much to the chagrin of his buddies, to return it. After that, they manage to get 47 cars stolen and delivered.

On the day before the deadline, a disguised Pace spots another "Eleanor" at a radio station in Long Beach and prepares to steal it, but is unaware the police have been alerted after his brother-in-law sells him out anonymously following a fight over the stolen Cadillac. As a result of the tip-off, two detectives (Butch Stockton and Phil Woods) confront a disguised Pace as he is about to drive out of the carpark. This results in a lengthy 34-minute car chase (in which 93 vehicles are destroyed) that spans from Long Beach to Carson. During the chase, Pace drives a battered "Eleanor", which belongs to the radio DJ of Constant Country K-Fox who is giving updates on the chase but doesn't know it's his car, into a 30-foot jump over a prior car crash, losing the police in the process.

Pace is now desperate because the car is almost destroyed. Minutes later, Pace spots another yellow "Eleanor" Mustang pulling into a car wash. He asks for his car to be washed and then dupes the owner of the other Mustang into reporting to the manager's office. He subsequently leaves the car wash with the other Mustang, switching the license plates and removing his disguise. The Mustang owner faints at the sight of the wrecked "Eleanor" exiting the car wash machine while the manager is arrested by the police, who mistake him for Pace.


Gone in 60 Seconds was classified as an independent film smash; H. B. Halicki wrote, starred, directed, produced and even did his own stuntwork in the film, which, at the time, was phenomenal. In a contemporary context, however, the portions of the film preceding the chase sequences are seen as typical of a badly acted 1970s movie. Halicki employed family and friends (instead of professional actors) to play parts in his movie to keep the budget low. Therefore, the acting is somewhat substandard when compared to other films of the time. The characters depicted as being members of the emergency services were actual police officers, firemen, or paramedics. The then-mayor of Carson, California, Sak Yamamoto, also appeared as himself.

All of the police cars damaged in the film, as well as the garbage truck that overturns, three fire trucks, two waiting for the cars to clear, and another one stopping to put out a fire, were bought at city auction by Halicki in 1972, for an average price of $200 each. They sat in an empty lot for over a year until production on the movie began in 1973. The fire trucks seen on the Vincent Thomas Bridge during the main chase were real Long Beach FD units on their way to an emergency call. The "crash" staged for the film was blocking both lanes and they could not get past until the cars were cleared. Halicki asked the camera crew to film them in case he found a place and time to fit the shots into the movie.

There was no official script, apart from several pages outlining main dialog sequences. Much of the action/dialog was improvised and ad-libbed by the cast and crew as they went along. This caused many problems for the editor, Warner E. Leighton, who never knew what footage was being dumped on him or where in the movie it belonged. In the DVD audio commentary, he described the script for the construction site scenes of the main pursuit as a piece of cardboard with a circle on it. Halicki pointed at it and said, "That's the dust bowl. We went around it twice. There's your script."

The pursuit is the longest car chase (40 minutes) in movie history and takes Pace through five cities as he attempts to lose police. Nearly every civilian vehicle seen in close proximity to the main chase (especially in downtown Long Beach) was owned by Halicki. This resulted in several of them being seen multiple times in the 40-minute sequence. The second "Eleanor" that Maindrian steals from the car wash, and the white Ford that he and Stanley spend much of their time in, are visible parked in one street that Maindrian turns onto before hitting the boat in Long Beach. The white Ford also shows up in many other shots.


The workshop scenes at Chase Research were filmed at Halicki's real-life workshop, and occasionally filming would stop for several days so he could repair cars to earn money and continue production.


1-Baker-11, the unmarked gray LBPD sedan that initiates the climactic pursuit, is a 1970 Mercury Montego. Parnelli Jones still owns his Big Oly Ford Bronco and often brings it out to car shows.


The car that flips during the earlier night-time chase in Torrance was overturned by six men lifting it up from one side. The film was later skip-framed to create the desired effect.

The garbage truck that overturns when two police cars smash into the side of it was pulled over at the precise moment the cars hit by two tow trucks. Cables can be seen attached to the top of the garbage truck as it topples.

To achieve the effect of cars sliding into each other when hit by the patrol car at Moran Cadillac, the filmmakers put oil under the tires of the first car to help it slide. According to the commentary track on the DVD only the first two Cadillacs in the row were owned by the film company. When it came time to do the stunt, the oil trick worked too well and many of the agency's own Cadillacs that were for sale were badly damaged. Halicki had to purchase all of them.

The jump scene at the end of the chase is notable and set the standards for a number of subsequent pictures. Acting as the climax to the lengthy chase sequence, "Eleanor" jump manages to achieve a height of 30' over a 128' in distance — a feat which would not be easily replicable without the use of modern CGI. Halicki compacted ten vertebrae performing this jump. The injury was not very serious, although according to director of photography Jack Vacek, Halicki never walked the same again.

Real accidents

In one scene at the construction area where "Eleanor" has been surrounded, a patrol car roars up a hill in pursuit and overturns. This was a real accident, and the officer inside was nearly crushed when the siren "can" on the roof caved the roof in. The scene was left in.

J.C. Agajanian Jr., who plays a detective in the roadblock sequence at Torrance Mazda Agency, was almost killed when the stunt with "Eleanor" went wrong and the Mustang slammed into his unmarked police car, which he was standing behind.

The scene where "Eleanor" tags a car on the highway and spins into a light pole at 100 mph was a real accident. Halicki was badly hurt and filming was stopped while he recovered. According to people on the set, after the mishap the first thing that Halicki said when he regained consciousness was "Did we get coverage?" Likewise, the films opening scene in which a train derailment is observed in the film was not part of the original shooting script but it is in fact a real train that derailed and when Halicki heard about this he wanted to incorporate it into the film.

General public as extras

With the exception of a few extras, the bulk of the by-standers in the movie are the general public going about their business. This caused several incidents where people assumed a real police pursuit was in progress, with many trying to help the accident "victims." In the scene at the Carson Street off-ramp where the two cars collide after Maindrian drives against traffic, a pedestrian can be seen in the background shouting angrily at the passing police cars for not stopping to help the occupants. Much of the crowd at the gas station where Harold Smith is pulled over after the night-time Torrance chase were part of a real biker gang, who verbally abused the police officers "arresting" the actor and demanding they leave him alone.

Ronald Halicki, the director's real-life brother and Corlis Pace in the film, operated the crane that lifted "Jill," the red Challenger, to its fate in the car-crusher at the junkyard.

"In" jokes

When Maindrian is first telling Atlee about the new contract, a message on the blackboard behind them says, "Sgt. Hawkins called about Vacek case" — a reference to director of photography Jack Vacek. The license plate of the Rolls-Royce outside the airport reads "HBH," the initials of the film's star/director/writer, H. B. Halicki.

When Pumpkin tells Maindrian that they have to give "Eleanor" back because the car is not insured, Maindrian reads the owner's address from a newspaper: 18511 S Mariposa Ave, Gardena. This was in fact Halicki's own real home address at the time.

Early in the film when the boys are stripping down the Challenger, they are conversing about how Atlee became a "professional." Atlee says, "Butch Stockton was a professional and he got caught." Butch Stockton is the driver of 1-Baker-11 in the film.

Cast and crew

Actor Role
H.B. "Toby" Halicki Maindrian "Vicinski" Pace
Marion Busia Pumpkin Chase
Jerry Daugirda Eugene Chase
James McIntyre Stanley "Sage" Chase
George Cole Atlee Jackson
Ronald Halicki Corlis Pace/The Crane Operator
Markos Kotsikos Uncle Joe Chase
Christopher J.C. Agajanian Himself (the host of Ascot Park)
Gary Bettenhausen Himself (the King Midget racer)
Parnelli Jones Himself (Parnelli Jones Enterprises owner)
Terence H. Winkless Lyle Waggoner's Car Cleaner (Roy's Auto Detail)
Butch Stockton 1-Baker-11 Detective (Driver)
Phil Woods 1-Baker-11 Detective (Passenger)
Wally Burr Male Police Dispatcher
John Halicki Sgt. Hawkins
Hal McClain Himself (Constant Country K-Fox announcer)
Jonathan E. Fricke Himself (Constant Country K-Fox interviewer)
J.C. Agajanian, Jr. Light Blue Unmarked Detective
Sak Yamamoto Himself (City of Carson mayor)
Edward Abrahms Harold Blight Smith
Edward Booker Lowrider
Anthony Cole Lowrider
Michael Cole Lowrider
Mark Cole Lowrider

Home video releases

In 2000, Denice Shakarian Halicki along with her business partner Michael Leone under the banner Halicki Films released the 25th anniversary remastered edition was released on DVD and VHS to American viewers. This special remastered edition contained a completely reworked image, with a newly cleaned up print compared to the grainy, dirty and unsatisfactory previous version. In May 2005 a Region 2 DVD was released in Europe.

The pre-release version of the movie can be seen (albeit in still frame form) on the 25th Anniversary DVD. By accessing the hidden "Easter Egg," you get to watch an older version of the film — possibly a pre-release version — as the first half of the movie has a different order and additional scenes. At this time it is unknown whether this version will ever be released to the public in full form.

In the Speed Channel broadcast of the movie, a documentary, hosted by Denice Halicki, is shown before the beginning of the film. The documentary described the production processes of the movies produced by H.B. Halicki as well as his life.

On October 16, 2012, Denice Shakarian Halicki, along with her business partner Michael Leone, under the banner Halicki Films, released the Gone in 60 seconds DVD/Blu-ray combo pack. It includes a rare interview with Lee Iacocca.

The 48 cars stolen in the film

  • Locations seen in film
# Years Automobiles Codes
1 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Marion
2 1974 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Barbara
3 1973 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Lindsey
4 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Dianne
5 1971 Cadillac Fleetwood Seventy-Five Nicole
6 1972 Cadillac Fleetwood Seventy-Five Ruby
7 1972 Lincoln Continental Julie
8 1971 Freightliner WFT 6364 Frances
9 1973 Cadillac Coupe DeVille Mary
10 1972 Mercedes-Benz 450SE Joanne
11 1930 Hudson Motor Car Company Beverly
12 1974 Cadillac Coupe DeVille Patricia
13 1974 Lincoln Continental Mark IV Ruth
14 1927 CitroŽn B14 Conduite Elizabeth
15 1971 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Terri
16 1924 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost Eileen
17 1972 Plymouth Barracuda Susan
18 1970 Jaguar E-Type Claudia
19 1959 Rolls-Royce Phantom V Rosie
20 1970 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Maria
21 1972 Ferrari Daytona 365 GTB/4 Sharon
22 1970 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Kathy
23 1953 Chrysler Coupe Elegance Alice
24 1973 Cadillac Fleetwood Station Wagon Leona
25 1971 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Kelly
26 1971 Cadillac Eldorado Nancy
27 1973 Jensen Interceptor Betty
28 1971 CitroŽn SM Patti
29 1962 Ferrari 340 America Judy
30 1966 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II Carey
31 1966 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III Jackie
32 1973 Cadillac Eldorado Laurie
33 1972 Maserati Ghibli Coupe Sandy
34 1971 Chevrolet Vega Christy
35 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Michelle
36 1967 Lamborghini Miura Tracy
37 1969 De Tomaso Mangusta Marilyn
38 1971 De Tomaso Pantera Maxine
39 1968 Intermeccanica Italia GFX Lorna
40 1971 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Jean
41 1949 Ferrari V12 Paula
42 1966 Lotus Europa S1 Renee
43 1974 Manta Mirage Annie
44 1971 Ford "Big Oly" Bronco Janet
45 1972 Stutz Blackhawk Karen
46 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Dorothy
47 1973 Stutz Blackhawk Doris
48 1973 Ford Mustang Mach 1 "Eleanor"

Post-Gone in 60 Seconds

Marriage, Gone in 60 Seconds 2 and death

Halicki was introduced to Denice Shakarian in 1983, and in 1986, they were engaged. The couple lived in Southern California, and married on May 11, 1989, in Dunkirk, New York.

On June 9, 1989, Halicki and Denice began to shoot Gone in 60 Seconds 2, which was not related to his 1974 film. Halicki wanted a new and bigger story about a professional international thief who unwittingly becomes the central figure in this cross-continental-duel-to-the-death to locate a secret item and steal it before it falls in the clutches of the most feared man alive.

On August 20, 1989, while filming in Dunkirk and Buffalo, New York, Halicki was preparing for the most dramatic stunt sequence in the film, during which a water tower would suddenly topple. The stunt went wrong when a cable attached to the tower snapped, shearing off a telephone pole that killed him on impact.

In light of the Gone in 60 Seconds 2 project, and their recent marriage, there were a number of legal challenges to Halicki's estate from 1990 to 1994. After seven trials, in 1994, the court released Halicki's films and the associated copyrights to his widow Denice, but she was forced to sell the car and toy collection to pay the legal fees.

Denice plans on finishing her late husband's dream and will make a new Gone in 60 Seconds 2 based on the 1989 unfinished film.

Legacy and remake

See Gone in 60 Seconds (2000 film) for more information In 2000, Denice kept Halicki's legacy alive by licensing some of her rights and producing the 2000 remake along with Touchstone Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer.

In its opening weekend, the remake grossed $25,336,048 from 3,006 U.S. theaters, leading all films that weekend. By the end of the film's theatrical run, it had grossed $101,648,571 domestically and $135,553,728 internationally, comprising a total gross revenue for the film of $237,202,299 worldwide.

The popularity of the remake revived that of "Eleanor" (now a 1967 Ford Mustang, not a 1973 model as in the original). A number of car shops started to produce Eleanor-tagged replicas, which Denice again had to resort to legal action to protect her trademark and copyrights to the Eleanor car character's image. In 2008, she won a case against Carroll Shelby, who had been selling Eleanor replicas without her consent. A 2008 appeals court ruled that "Eleanor" and its likeness are copyrighted.

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