When talking about the Oscars and cars, the obvious choice is Mad Max. There’s good reason for that: the post-Apocalyptic landscape of Mad Max features an array of killer cars, from the People Eater’s Mercedes Limousine to Nux’s Chevrolet Coupe. The cars of Mad Max have accrued such a cult following, there are entire websites dedicated to them. And that’s to say nothing of the auto blog articles devoted to dissecting, analyzing, or just plain old salivating over them. But there was another movie this Oscar cycle that featured some outstanding cars. And that movie was the criminally under-seen Carol, based on Patricia Highsmith’s novel The Price of Salt. (She was also responsible for the source material for the 1999 psychological thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley.)
There are many enchanting things about Carol, but ranking high among them is the film’s ability to transport you to another time. When you’re watching Carol, you’re there. It is 1952 and you can feel it! There are a lot of reasons for this – the costumes, the music, the color palette, the tenor, subject matter… but it’s also large in part due to the mastery of the set design, which was rich in its detail and precision.
Carol, at its heart, is a road movie. The bulk of the movie takes place during a road trip that Carol Aird (Cate Blanchett) and Therese Belivet (Rooney Mara) go on – west from New York in Carol’s 1949 Packard Deluxe Eight. There are other cars in the film, too, a 1949 Dodge, a 1950 Chevrolet, a 1950 Packard Convertible – but the ’49 Packard Deluxe Eight is almost a character in and of itself. But I won’t give too much about the movie away.
The Packard Motor Company was an integral piece of American auto history, but if you polled a random person, they probably wouldn’t be able to tell you much about it – if they knew what you were talking about at all. They were the premier American luxury car marque and the first of any motor company to include air conditioning. At one time, their reputation was so good that the Japanese Royal Family bought ten of them!
The Packard survived both the Great Depression and WWII, but was still discontinued in 1959. It’s a shame, because they paved the way for all other American luxury cars.