Used Cars … a masterpiece of our industry.
A movie exists glorifying the rise of the used car lot in the 70s and 80s, it stars former child actor and now comeback king slash Tarantino regular Kurt Russell, and is directed by Robert Zemeckis – the director of Forest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Back to the Future.
Can I stop writing now? Can I just stop here and turn this in? I mean, like everything here is a spoiler at this point. Oh, the title? It’s 1980’s Used Cars.
From Columbia Pictures, a movie that asks the question, “Would you buy a used car from THIS man?”
If you want to see a movie that is essentially a coffee table book of used cars from this time period, Used Cars is it. In fact, I’ll give away a trade secret. When I’m not sure about the make or model of a car in a movie, I confirm it on several sites, but the one that always comes through for me is imcdb. Yeah, Internet Movie Car Database. The page for Used Cars on this site is four scrolls of the mouse long, a smorgasbord of thumbnails.
Kurt Russell stars as Rudy Russo, a used car salesman who wants to run for senate. How about here? Can I stop here? Seriously people, why are you still reading. Just bookmark this page until you see the movie.
“Fighting high prices. Murdering high prices. Blowing the living [REDACTED] out of high prices.”
The movie also stars former NFL player turned great character actor Frank McRae, Joe Flaherty of SCTV fame as a lawyer, Lenny and Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley, Grandpa Munster, Dick Miller having sex, character actor Jack Warden in dual roles as the Fuchs brothers, owners of vying car dealerships across the street from each other, half a dozen faces you’ll recognize from 80s and 90s movies and television, and workaholic character actor, Gerrit Graham, whose been in more movies and tv shows than I thought I was in love.
You will also see a dog that grabs tools for you, Kurt Russell disco dancing on top of a car with an open shirt, strippers dancing atop cars and a dress that gets snagged as a hood pops open. I can’t believe you’re still reading and not watching it.
“Nothing sells a car better than a car itself.”
Now, only two cars really get a lot of screen time, when a race car driver looking buyer shows up and test drives a sky-blue 1957 Chevrolet Two-Ten—test drives it into parts— and when they fake a death using a 1958 Edsel Ranger that goes up in flames, but don’t worry he was already dead. It’s the ending, however, that drives—you like that? “drives”—the movie into car cinema history.
When their tv commercial is tampered with to say they have a mile of cars, they have to prove it to Hanging Judge Grandpa Munster. This is where the whole movie just comes together. Russo buys 250 cars from another great character actor Alfonso Arau who tried to sell the cars to him earlier.
Earlier in the film Russo sold a half dozen wrecks to a student driver teacher, and now he gets that teacher and 250 student drivers to drive the cars to the lot, 250 cars, an encyclopedic representation of 70’s cars: jeeps, station wagons, one Cadillac and dozens upon dozens of beautiful muscle cars driving along, sometimes in shots where you can see 50 plus cars in one shot, flying along a shortcut looking like Mad Max in suburbia. However, bringing up the rear is bad luck-phobic Gerrit Graham who cannot drive a red car, and realizes the blue car he is driving is actually red. Will he make it? Find out for yourselves in one of the best zany comedies ever made, Used Cars.
Special thanks to Columbia Pictures for the photos. Sourced from YouWonCannes.