Herbie Rides Again – 1974 – English
Film directed in 1974 by Robert Stevenson, and starring Helen Hayes, Ken Berry, Stefanie Powers, John McIntire, Keenan Wynn, Huntz Hall, Raymond Bailey, Dan Tobin, Eilane Devry…
Synopsis: Alonzo Hawk is a mean-spirited property developer who has bought several blocks of land in the downtown district in order to build a gigantic shopping mall. There is one problem however; an elderly widow named Steinmetz won’t sell the one remaining lot that Hawk needs to proceed with his scheme. So he resorts to all manner of chicanery, legal or otherwise, to get it. Fortunately, the widow Steinmetz has an ace up her sleeve in the form of Herbie, the miraculous Volkswagen.
Review: I grew up on Herbie movies. I even «met» Herbie in the Panama Canal Zone during the filming of Herbie Goes Bananas. (Thank you Mrs. Kelstom!) I hadn’t seen a Herbie movie in 25 years. They’re exactly as I remember. These films were made back when Disney still had a keen eye on children’s imaginations. Is the film cheesy? Absolutely. Intentionally so. How else could a movie about a «living» car turn out? Helen Hayes is charming. Stephanie Powers is spunky. Keenan Wynn is almost perfect in his role as the over-the-top Disney villain. OK – the flashbacks to Herbie’s racing career are too long. But the film is strong enough to succeed despite that setback. This film is classic early Disney – full of impossible fantasy and magical inventions. If you have children – this film is a must.