In this season of Golden Globes, SAG awards, and Oscars, we couldnt help but wonder: Wheres the recognition for the real hard-working actors in many movies: the cars? They dominate the screen, they propel the action, they do all their own stunts and, lets face it, they often turn in a more nuanced performance than some of the actors in the movies listed below. So, in recognition of a job well done without the perks of magazine covers, big-bucks contracts, or their own trailers, we hereby salute the 10 best performances in a motion picture by the worlds most cinematic car brand. And the nominees, in no particular order, are
1968 Dodge Charger R/T in Bullitt (1968)
It starts off innocently enough, with a bad guy (Bill Hickman) tailing Bullitt (Steve McQueen) in a black 1968 Dodge Charger 440 through the up-and-down streets of San Francisco. But McQueen quickly turns the tables, Hickman buckles his waist-only seatbelt, floors it, and begins what’s possibly the most famous, and terrifying, car chase in movie history. There’s no dialogue, no music just nearly 10 full minutes of the ungodly deep growl of the Charger’s engine careening down back roads and highways, before it runs off the road, crashes into a gas station, and goes out the only way a hero can exploding in a flaming ball of cinematic glory.
Fun fact: The Charger was apparently so much faster than the Mustang that they had to put thinner wheels on to slow it down to film the chase.
1974 Dodge Monaco in The Blues Brothers (1980)
To be fair, pretty much every scene of Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi driving in their battered former police car, a 1974 Dodge Monaco, is golden. But the one that pushes the car into the realm of cinematic immortality is when the two take the Bluesmoblie crashing through the Dixie Square Mall. After fleeing a state trooper, who pulled them over for running a yellow light, Aykroyd cooly tells Belushi not to worry: “They’re not going to catch us. We’re on a mission from God.” With two state troopers giving chase, the brothers rumble through a Toys ‘R Us and a clothing store, nudge a bakery and music store, and take out a few window displays before shooting out of a JC Penny all while discussing the mall’s merits, which are manifold.
Fun fact: The movie used 13 different Bluesmobiles, two built specifically for speed and three (with one-gallon gas tanks) specifically for jumps. The Monaco that falls apart at the end of the Blues Brothers long chase took a mechanic months to correctly rig for that one shot.
1970 Dodge Challenger in Vanishing Point (1971)
A cult classic among muscle car lovers, the Challenger wastes no time getting into the action. The opening scene is set when two tractors make a road block in the middle of a desolate California highway, with cops in the wings and a helicopter in pursuit, as the white Challenger, manned by Kowalski (Barry Newman), barrels toward the blockade. (Keep in mind that this is a car that could go almost 150 mph and hit 60 in 5.8 seconds.) Newman sees the trap, reverses his ground, and for basically the next 90 minutes we see what havoc one man can wreak with a 1970 Dodge Challenger which turns out to be quite a bit.
Fun fact: Look closely while watching the climactic crash scene the films producers were apparently loathe to destroy the beautiful Challenger, so they crashed a Camaro instead.
1977 Dodge Monaco in Terminator (1984)
While ducking down in the front seat of a car, Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn) explains to Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) that her unborn son, John, is the one man who can save the human race from total destruction; meanwhile, a terrifyingly eyebrow-less Arnold Schwartzenegger quietly hunts them down, cruising through the parking garage in a Dodge Monaco police cruiser. The future Governator naturally sniffs them out, and the brutal chase begins. The unblinking Schwartzenegger fires shotgun blasts after shotgun blasts while hands-free driving before smashing the car head-on into a wall and rising from the wreckage, of course.
Fun fact: If you look closely, youll see that in some scenes the car is a 77 Monaco and in others its a 78 Plymouth Fury both somewhat old models for the LAPD to be using in 1984.
2008 Viper SRT-10 in Wanted (2008)
Any time you can have Angelina Jolie sprawled across the hood of a Viper, racing along tight-packed city streets as she fires guns back at pursuing vehicles, you know youve got a movie that should have been a contender for Best Picture. Add in Morgan Freeman, non-stop action, and stunts that effectively total one of the most valuable sports cars around, and who really needs a little thing called plot?
Fun fact: Keep watching for a bit of the Viper even after its destroyed in a later chase, Angelina Jolie is seen changing gears with a Viper shifter, even though shes no longer in a Viper.
The Runners Up:
1970 Dodge Charger R/T in The Fast and the Furious (2001)
In a movie crafted specifically for car nuts, its tough to stand out, but Vin Diesel’s black Charger, with the same body style as the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard, dominates until the final crash scene.
1978 Dodge Sportsman Van in The Cannonball Run (1981)
The ambulance gets extra points for historic significance: Its the actual van that Brock Yates drove in the real Cannonball Run, and the DVDs audio commentary claims he would have won the race if the transmission hadn’t given out in the desert.
1969 Dodge Charger in Death Proof (2007)
Stuntman Mikes second death proof car is pursuit in a chase scene that lasts a whopping 20 minutes.
1982 Dodge Diplomat in Beverly Hills Cop II (1987)
Sadly, this upstanding public servant would have to find out the hard way that Taggert is most assuredly NOT an excellent driver.
2001 Dodge Grand Caravan in Super Size Me (2004)
It may not be an action movie, but do you think it doesnt take a lot of work to drive Morgan Spurlock in and out of drive-thrus three times a day every single day?
So whos got your vote for the best Dodge performance in a motion picture? Tell us in the comments below! (And be sure to let us know if we left out your personal favorite!)