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View Full Version : Question for adults and adults with children: opinion of film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang



underthecity
02-13-2009, 05:35 PM
I'm gonna let you guys in on a secret, not to be a secret any longer:

I want to write a "making of" book about the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

The book would be similar in scope to the book Pure Imagination (http://www.amazon.com/Pure-Imagination-Making-Chocolate-Factory/dp/0312352409/) about the movie Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. It would give all the background of the real race car, Ian Fleming's book, the screenplay by Roald Dahl, the conversion into a musical, etc. etc. etc.

I've been a lifelong fan of the move ever since early childhood. I have fond memories of watching the movie all afternoon on a Saturday or Sunday. Google searches reveal blogs and bulletin boards where fans my age and younger still rave about the movie. I've seen mentions that say it's a "perrenial childhood favorite."

Yet there's no book about it.

So, since I'm unemployed, I thought I would start the preliminaries into seeing what I need to do to write this book. I'll have to have cooperation from MGM. I'll need access to their files, publicity photos, and anything else they may have on hand concerning the movie. I'll have to interview anyone associated with the movie who is still alive.

I started with a phone call to MGM's legal department. Someone from the office actually called me back last night. Blew me away. She said "everyone does love the film" and that a book like my proposed book would be interesting. She explained that I had to talk with the Film/Literary Rights department, which she gave me the person's name and number plus referral. I'll call that person today.

However, I need to present a strong case to this person that a book like this is needed for the movie's fans, and that it would also benefit MGM. I believe the book would boost sales of the DVD. And it would garner interest in the touring musical. The musical, btw, is currently touring in the United States (http://www.chittyontour.com/). I hope to see it this May.

And there's even talk of a modern remake (http://classicfilm.about.com/b/2008/09/22/chitty-chitty-bang-banggets-a-remake.htm)!

In presenting my case to the MGM person I have to convince her that modern audiences still love this movie and would be interested in the book.

So my question for you all is this: do you and your children dislike/like/love the movie and why? Do you think you would want to read a "making of" book?

I have spoken to people who say they like the film, but maybe this small poll will help make my case aside from saying that I've seen lots of talk around the web from people who like the movie.

If there's enough interest in the original film to garner a touring musical and remake, then there should be a book, I think. And I'm just the guy to write it, since no one else has.

Once I have written support from MGM saying that yes, they will grant me access to their files and cooperate with me on this book, THEN I will write a proposal to get an agent to sell the book. THEN I will write it.

GeorgeK
02-13-2009, 05:51 PM
Remember, "A squeeze on the hooter is an excellent safety precaution!"

We bought a copy of the vhs movie. My kids watched it endlessly to the point that they quickly learned how to take it out, rewind it, put it back in and play it. I'm fairly certain that my wife would probably buy a book that was about it.

A modern remake? I think they'd have to go another direction and only have it loosely based on the original, loosely enough it might need a new title and no mention of the original. They'd have to either set it in the time period in which it was originally set, in which case why bother, or they'd have to set it in modern time in which case the dad would what, have a portable nuclear reactor? His invertions are ahead of the time, so if it's setting is modern then he has to be futuristic. I'd have trouble imagining that script. I think it would come off as schlocky.

johnnysannie
02-13-2009, 06:01 PM
As a child, I loved the movie in the theater. As a parent, I bought the movie for my kids and they have watched it until it's almost worn out; they never get tired of it.

So I think there would be sufficient interest for the type of book mentioned.

But I would not want to see a remake....no way, no how!

Tasmin21
02-13-2009, 07:04 PM
My six-year-old daughter wore out my video tape of it, and we had to find it on DVD. She now talks to our car like it's a person, and can sing any song out of the movie on command.

And I like it too. ;)

C.bronco
02-13-2009, 07:11 PM
I loved the movie, and actually have a book somewhere that has b&w photos from the movie. I'll see if I can find it this weekend, but I'm afraid the cover is long gone. Your idea sounds great!

The Child Catcher is still too scary for my boy, but what kid wouldn't love a flying car?

Williebee
02-13-2009, 07:12 PM
I loved the movie, as a child, and as an adult. Same with my kid, who is now an adult.

There is a lot of cool trivia connected to it, as well.

One thought:

In presenting my case to the MGM person I have to convince her that modern audiences still love this movie and would be interested in the book.

I think you're going to have to give them a reason that YOU should write the book, as well. (Which will be good practice, because you're going to have to pitch the same thing to an agent.)

Good luck!

CarolSanDiego
02-13-2009, 08:34 PM
I'll join the crowd in saying that I loved this movie as a kid. Can't remember the details of it - just remember the feeling I was left with. There is a touring show and a possible remake in the works? Sounds like the time is ripe for a book on this story! Good luck, and great idea!

underthecity
02-13-2009, 10:47 PM
I've made the call to the person in Business Affairs and left a message with the secretary.

Now I'm waiting for the Return Call.

Sigh. Nervous.

Barb D
02-13-2009, 11:07 PM
Oh, thank you SO much. Now I'll have "Bang, Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang we love youuuuuu," running through my head all afternoon.

I loved the movie as a child, but couldn't get my kids to watch it. They thought it was slow and boring.

KTC
02-13-2009, 11:11 PM
I'll give you a cheque right now. I want it. I have loved this movie since I was old enough to watch it. I got beaten, of course, for singing the theme song incorrectly. My first usage of the word sh*tty. (-; Yes. There is an audience for this book.

IceCreamEmpress
02-14-2009, 12:02 AM
You're absolutely the right person to write this, because you have already written successfully about beloved cultural institutions.

The "Images of America" series has good cred. You can totally do this.

Sell yourself! We're all behind you!

HoraceJames
02-14-2009, 12:11 AM
I was a little to old to be into it when it came out, and don't believe that I've ever seen the entire movie. My kid is 11, so it's years off of his cultural radar, and since it wasn't one of his parents' favorites, we never "forced it on him" (he hasn't forgiven us for Mary Poppins yet.)

KTC
02-14-2009, 12:13 AM
I was a little to old to be into it when it came out, and don't believe that I've ever seen the entire movie. My kid is 11, so it's years off of his cultural radar, and since it wasn't one of his parents' favorites, we never "forced it on him" (he hasn't forgiven us for Mary Poppins yet.)


Too old to be into it when it came out, but your kid is 11? It came out in 68. How were you too old but manage to have an 11 year-old?

Kevin, perplexed. (-;

underthecity
02-14-2009, 12:19 AM
(he hasn't forgiven us for Mary Poppins yet.)
Mary Poppins. <shudders> I still can't watch that movie.

Williebee
02-14-2009, 12:56 AM
The multiple Benny Hill roles were fun.

And I used to sing my kid to sleep with "Hushabye Mountain".

dianeP
02-14-2009, 01:53 AM
Loved the movie as a kid and watched it every year when it came on. Still love it as an adult and think it would make a really interesting book.

Deb Kinnard
02-14-2009, 04:25 AM
I cannot be the only person on the planet who saw this movie when my kids were small...and hated every second of it. I used to go in the laundry room during its 42nd screening that day, and put cotton in my ears and run both the washer and the dryer so I didn't have to hear the music. Or the dialogue. Or that brother and sister. Or that blonde...

Aargh!

I do, however, love "making of" books. In general.

WendyNYC
02-14-2009, 04:43 AM
So my question for you all is this: do you and your children dislike/like/love the movie and why? Do you think you would want to read a "making of" book?

.

I saw it on Broadway somewhat recently, and it was just okay. I liked the movie as a child. My daughters (7 and 9) liked but not loved it, although they LOVE the theme song. They were more interested in the first half than the second, for both the movie and the musical.

Aesposito
02-16-2009, 04:40 AM
The movie absolutely creeped the sh*t out of me when I was a kid, and I could never watch it all the way through. Something about the child-catcher maybe.

But my kids liked it... and as an adult I have to admit the novelty of seeing Benny Hill in a move amused me.

Audrey

poetinahat
02-16-2009, 04:55 AM
I loved the film then - still do. Maybe more so now, because I can get past the Child Catcher, and I appreciate the humor of the king's bumbling attempts to 'accidentally' bump off the Queen.

My kids, 5 1/2 and 3, love the film. They can sing the theme song (with adorable kidly malapropisms).

I don't think I've ever read a Making Of... book, because I'm not particularly into looking behind the curtain. Tell you what, though, Allen - if you write it, I'll buy it, read it and enjoy it.

KTC
02-16-2009, 04:58 AM
I loved the film then - still do. Maybe more so now, because I can get past the Child Catcher, and I appreciate the humor of the king's bumbling attempts to 'accidentally' bump off the Queen.

My kids, 5 1/2 and 3, love the film. They can sing the theme song (with adorable kidly malapropisms).

I don't think I've ever read a Making Of... book, because I'm not particularly into looking behind the curtain. Tell you what, though, Allen - if you write it, I'll buy it, read it and enjoy it.

Yep...as an adult it's a lot easier to get through. The Child Catcher was a horror-show when I was a kid. That scared me more than most horror movies. Man, he was creepy.

I hope you get the go-ahead, Allen. It would be SO cool.

dolores haze
02-16-2009, 05:02 AM
Adore this movie and have watched it many times. My kids love it, too.

If you write the book I'd like to know how much of that screenplay was Dahl's and how much is it different from Fleming's story. The childcatcher seems pure Dahl. Among other things.

The songs and routines are fantastic, too. Except for that really sappy song that Truly sings in soft focus. Blech.

sunandshadow
02-16-2009, 05:10 AM
I loved it as a child, although besides the creepy factor, the many setting changes confused me. If they did a modern remake I hope they would put it in a fantasy setting, although steampunk might be truer to the original. If you're looking for rhetorical material, I think you could safely compare chitty chitty bang bang to Herbie the Love Bug which spawned sequel movies and probably has a making-of book that they could look at the sales numbers for. Or if you wanted to cross-market, besides Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, I think Chitty Chitty probably had a lot of fans in common with Here Comes the Grump and Dr. Snuggles (although those are both animated). Probably Dr. Dolittle too.

underthecity
02-16-2009, 06:22 PM
Thanks for all the replies. I guess it's safe to say that the majority of people you meet like the movie as adults, most kids like or love it, and very few dislike it.

I know what you guys mean about the child catcher. I've been surfing bbs and things on the web and really, nobody likes that guy. I've decided that for a sidebar in the book, I want to have a psychologist write a short essay about what makes the child catcher so terrifying. And maybe a sociologist write an essay about why eliminating children from a society, read Vulgaria, is such a bad idea. It actually spells the end to that society!

That entire sequence, about the king trying to "bump off" his wife is in the song "Chu-chi Face" which as I recall as a kid was one of the cut scenes when they broadcast it on television! I never saw the sequence until we bought the tape years later.

I will be the first to admit that I don't enjoy every second of the film. I always fast forward through the slower, sappier numbers like Truly's song when she's in the park. That whole part drags the movie to a screeching halt. But I always like Me Ol' Bamboo and most everything else.

Overall, when you think about it, it's a strange movie, what with an aerodynamically-impossible car and a bizarre kingdom, two weird spies and a grandpa who probably should be taken out of public. But it's a lot of fun.

The original book bears little resemblance to the movie. Ian Fleming wrote it as a spy book for kids with a magical car, hence the license plate GEN-II, meaning Genie. I've always wondered how the car became magical in the first place.

Greenwolf103
02-16-2009, 08:37 PM
Allen, my connection to AW went out right around the time I was going to reply to this post. In my original reply, I wanted to know what was up with that license plate. Seriously, I thought it was a Biblical reference, or something. Thank you for explaining that. :)

Here is what I tried to post last night:

Oh wow, I LOVE this movie! Yes, I will admit it. Can't deny it. It was my favorite growing up. I have watched it with my daughter many times and I never tire of it.

My daughter (age 7) listed the following reasons why she loves the movie:

*The songs

*The story

*The funny parts

*The car


And why do I like it?

Because of....THE CAR! LOL Seriously, aside from the noise it makes and just...deciding to turn into a flying car on a whim, I think that car rocks and I'd love to read about how they decided on which car design to use and how they made it "work" in the movie.

I also don't like that sappy scene with Truly. I pretty much just look away until it's over. LOL

Good luck with your book! I can't wait to buy it, read it and tell the world about it!

dolores haze
02-16-2009, 09:30 PM
If they did a modern remake I hope they would put it in a fantasy setting, although steampunk might be truer to the original.

I was recently chatting with a steampunk afficionado as to whether Chitty could itself be considered steampunk. I wonder how many steampunk writers watched this movie when they were kids.



That entire sequence, about the king trying to "bump off" his wife is in the song "Chu-chi Face" which as I recall as a kid was one of the cut scenes when they broadcast it on television! I never saw the sequence until we bought the tape years later.


It is a rather naughty and disturbing scene for a kid's movie - a provocatively dressed woman singing about how much she loves her man, while all the time he is trying to kill her. Dahl again?

A note on the childcatcher - it taught me to never, but never, be tempted by candy from a stranger.

underthecity
02-16-2009, 09:53 PM
But if it were steampunk, wouldn't the car itself then have to be powered by steam?

Yes, many early automobiles were powered by steam (the Stanley Steamer is among the most well-known), but the car in the novel, as well as the film, was based on the 1920s era racing Chitty cars (http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Chitty_Bang_Bang) built especially to race. They used airplane engines and could go over a hundred miles per hour.

Assuming that the car Dick Van Dyke buys from the junkman and restores used an airplane engine, then wouldn't that technically not make it steampunk?

Perhaps too in-depth, I know, but if I'm writing a book about it, I'll have to get even more in-depth than that.

Regarding the "provacatively dressed Baroness (http://movies.groups.yahoo.com/group/annaquayle/)," it's been a while since I read the novel, but I don't remember any of Vulgaria et al being in there. So, I believe that the more twisted stuff like the Baron's murder attempts were added by Dahl.

I'm also still trying to narrow down whether or not George Barris designed the car. I thought I read somewhere he did.

ETA: No, Barris didn't (http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Chitty_Chitty_Bang_Bang_(car)).

But I'm getting WAY ahead of myself. I have to have approval and cooperation from MGM, which I still don't have yet.

Prawn
02-17-2009, 03:36 AM
And it beats the hell out of Mary Poppins. I saw that with my kids on Broadyway a few months ago and the were terrified! Check it out and tell me you aren't scared.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T5_0AGdFic

Compare that you chitty!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylNwSv6c7m0

Christine N.
02-17-2009, 03:46 AM
"She's Truly Scrumptious..."
I still sing "You're my little chootie-face"!

Love that movie. Have it on DVD. If not for the unending length, I would watch it more often. Son watches is as long as it holds his interests.

Scrawler
02-18-2009, 09:45 AM
My husband could sing all the songs long before he could speak English.

Tsu Dho Nimh
02-19-2009, 05:37 PM
My objection to the film is that I read the book first ... they "Disney-ified" it out of recognition.

underthecity
02-20-2009, 03:08 AM
Tsu Dho Nimh, I totally agree. One of the mysteries I have yet to uncover is why MGM decided to make a musical out of the book, that book in particular. I read somewhere that they wanted to "out-Disney Disney" in regards to Mary Poppins.

I have to admit, I found book a bit weird. I'm not so sure it could have worked as a film in its present state.