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Movies that get my motor running

Growing up in Los Angeles, cars played a big part in my life. I remember the horror the first time my dad taught me to drive on an L.A. freeway. It was much like the scene in "Clueless," when Dionne tries to negotiate the freeway. But despite my early experience, I've always loved a good movie car chase.

Universal Pictures
Paul Walker in "Fast & Furious"? No thanks, I'll take Steve McQueen instead.


I remember being fascinated by "Smokey and the Bandit" (watch the original trailer) as a kid. Heck, my dad even went out and got a CB radio for his van. Did we need one? No. Was it fun to play with? Absolutely. 

I loved the idea of outrunning the cops along with Burt Reynolds and Sally Field. And I loved when Field's hitchhiking bride wiggled out of her wedding dress in the film's speeding Trans Am. But I think what I really appreciated, but realized later, was the fact that the stunts were real. Of course, this was years before CGI took over, but the fact that real men and women were responsible for those white-knuckle car-chase scenes was thrilling.

Years later, when Quentin Tarantino made "Death Proof" with real-life stuntwoman Zoe Bell(watch a video of Bell) hanging off the front of that white, 1970 Dodge Challenger, my heart raced right along with the scene, because I knew it was Bell really doing the stunt.

And, of course, that film led me to rent "Vanishing Point" (watch the trailer), in which Barry Newman takes a bet to get a car from Colorado to San Francisco in less than 15 hours with a DJ and people in different towns cheering him on. 

Another of my favorites is the classic Steve McQueen film "Bullit" (watch the video). In a 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback, McQueen takes to the hilly streets of San Francisco in a scene that will have you gulping for air. It reminds me of another chase scene that's a bit of a parody – the one in "Foul Play" (watch the video), in which Chevy Chase and Goldie Hawn race through those same streets with a pair of scared-but-excited Asian tourists in the back seat.

If you're looking for great chase scenes from films like "The French Connection" (watch the video) and "Ronin," (watch the video), publications from Popular Mechanics to LeatherheadBlog to the U.K.'s Times Online and Movies for Guys have excellent lists. Of course, you don't have to be a guy to love a great chase scene.

As for this weekend's latest "Fast & Furious" installment, I'm hesitant. I'm worried that it will be all CGI and no real men and women testing their limits. How about you? What are your favorite movie car chases and does it matter to you whether they are real or CGI?