In motherhood, you have the unique opportunity to revisit your favourite childhood movies and see them from their perspective. Its bonnet has never looked more gleaming than on this high definition Blu-ray edition of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, one of those timeless family flicks that continues to attract fans of all generations.
After You Only Live Twice and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli produced Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, loosely based on Ian Fleming’s children’s story of the same name and written by Roald Dahl. A Heath Robinson-esque inventor and widowed father of two small children, Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke) develops a “Fantasmagorical Motorcar” for his children, in which they experience fairytale-like adventures.
Not only that, but weapons expert “Q” (Desmond Llewelyn) makes a cameo as scrap merchant Mr. Coggins, from whom the Potts children beg their father to save the wrecked car, and arch-villain Auric Goldfinger, played by German actor Gert Fröbe, uses his circus training as Baron Bomburst, ruler of Vulgaria where all children are exiled and forced to hide in under. The magnificent set interiors were designed by legendary production designer Ken Adam, who was also the draughtsman for the car’s distinctive characteristics.
A candy factory tycoon’s daughter (Sally Ann Howes) takes the Pott’s children home after a near-miss vehicle accident, worried for their schooling and general well-being. Their father views Truly Scrumptious as a busybody despite his recognition of his attraction to her. In one of the film’s most memorable set pieces, Potts brings his inadvertent ‘Toot’ sweets (dog-whistle candies) to Truly’s father for review, resulting in an all-out canine rampage through the set.
During the car’s first outing, the children take Truly and Caractacus on a trip to the beach, and the four of them are separated when the tide comes in. Bomburst’s mission to capture and release Vulgarian children’s children is now the film’s major fantasy plotline from here on out. The car’s capacity to drive on water and fly through the air (similar to some of the iconic Bond cars) enables for some fast-paced chase scenes to take place.
Tangled Up in Blue The supporting cast of Bang Bang includes Lionel Jeffries as the children’s eccentric grandfather and Benny Hill as the Royal Toymaker, who both give strong performances. Even though I saw this film in my teens, Robert Helpmann’s portrayal of the scary Child Catcher has stayed with me all these years later and continues to creep me out.
Disney used Schloss Neuschwanstein as inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty castle, which went on to become their company logo. The Sherman Brothers, who also worked with Walt Disney Pictures on Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, and Bedknobs and Broomsticks, provide a wonderful musical score for the film. Songs like “Title Song,” “Toot Sweets,” “Truly Scrumptious,” and “Hushabye Mountain” have become fan favourites because of their clever lyrics written by Richard Sherman.
We can only assume they were adults when they saw it for the first time and were therefore unaffected by its magic, which perhaps can only be enjoyed through the eyes of a child, as I had done and now my son has, when so many critics dismiss Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as too long, poorly made, or otherwise forgettable. One thing is for certain: this Blu-ray edition’s 1080p video transfer and 7.1 DTS-HD soundtrack reveal that the film is far from poor, and I am convinced that this high definition remastering will preserve the picture for my grandchildren to appreciate.