When car nut and aspiring B movie maverick H.B. "Toby" Halicki released his debut film, he gave top billing to his car, a yellow 1973 Ford Mustang named Eleanor. That's a good indication of Halicki's priorities in the original car-crunching, tire-squealing drive-in classic Gone in 60 Seconds
. Halicki wrote, produced, starred, and did all of his own extraordinary stunt driving in the picture, the story of a career car thief who makes a deal to steal 48 cars for an overseas smuggler. OK, it's not Shakespeare. The plot is perfunctory at best, and Halicki's all thumbs when it comes to directing his wooden cast, but he gives a crash course in the mechanics of the car-theft biz and tops it off with one of the greatest car chases of all time: a 40-minute finale that roars through five Los Angeles-basin towns and destroys 93 cars in the process. It's a masterpiece of stunt driving, down-and-dirty photography, and sharp, furious cutting; the unsung hero of the picture is editor Warner Leighton, who paces the film perfectly and never lets it stall. Forget the messy Nicolas Cage in-name-only remake, this is outlaw auto cinema at its purest, and it's never looked better than in this newly restored edition with a revved-up sound design and an entirely new (rather generic) score.
The 25th Anniversary DVD also features an introduction by Denise Halicki (the director's widow); laid-back commentary by Leighton and cinematographer Jack Vacek that foregrounds Halicki's seat-of-the-pants filmmaking style; interviews with Parnelli Jones, J.C. Agajanian, and stunt driver Bobby Ore (all of whom appear in the film) and former Ford honcho Lee Iacocca; two cut scenes; unused driving footage; and 300 stills. --Sean Axmaker