The Love Bug (1969)

G | 107 mins | Comedy | 13 March 1969

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HISTORY

The Love Bug was announced as an upcoming Walt Disney Production in the 12 Jan 1968 DV. Filming began shortly after on 1 Apr 1968 at Walt Disney studios in Burbank, CA. As noted in the 22 Apr 1968 DV, shooting also took place at the Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains. Additional location scenes were filmed in San Francisco, CA, on the Monterey peninsula in Northern CA, and at several raceways. Principal photography was completed by mid-Jun 1968, according to an item in the 14 Jun 1968 DV.
       Leading actress Michele Lee, also a singer, was scheduled to record an album at Columbia Records while production was underway, splitting her time on the film set during the day, and at the recording studio at night, according to a 9 Apr 1968 DV brief. Meanwhile, Buddy Hackett was so impressed by the vocal talents of co-star Dean Jones, formerly a singer at a nightclub in New Orleans, LA, Hackett recruited Jones to sing on a double-bill with him at the Hotel Sahara in Las Vegas, NV, starting in late Dec 1968, as noted in the 11 May 1968 and 24 Aug 1968 LAT.
       With some post-production work yet to be completed, sneak previews of The Love Bug took place on 6 Dec 1968 at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, and on 13 Dec 1968 at Loew’s Orpheum Theatre in New York City, according to the 9 Dec 1968 DV and 18 Dec 1968 Var. Audience response to the previews was very positive, as touted by an ... More Less

The Love Bug was announced as an upcoming Walt Disney Production in the 12 Jan 1968 DV. Filming began shortly after on 1 Apr 1968 at Walt Disney studios in Burbank, CA. As noted in the 22 Apr 1968 DV, shooting also took place at the Paramount Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains. Additional location scenes were filmed in San Francisco, CA, on the Monterey peninsula in Northern CA, and at several raceways. Principal photography was completed by mid-Jun 1968, according to an item in the 14 Jun 1968 DV.
       Leading actress Michele Lee, also a singer, was scheduled to record an album at Columbia Records while production was underway, splitting her time on the film set during the day, and at the recording studio at night, according to a 9 Apr 1968 DV brief. Meanwhile, Buddy Hackett was so impressed by the vocal talents of co-star Dean Jones, formerly a singer at a nightclub in New Orleans, LA, Hackett recruited Jones to sing on a double-bill with him at the Hotel Sahara in Las Vegas, NV, starting in late Dec 1968, as noted in the 11 May 1968 and 24 Aug 1968 LAT.
       With some post-production work yet to be completed, sneak previews of The Love Bug took place on 6 Dec 1968 at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, CA, and on 13 Dec 1968 at Loew’s Orpheum Theatre in New York City, according to the 9 Dec 1968 DV and 18 Dec 1968 Var. Audience response to the previews was very positive, as touted by an advertisement in the 19 Dec 1968 DV, which referred to the film’s anthropomorphized Volkswagen Beetle character, stating, “Everyone loves Herbie… You’ll love Herbie too!”
       The film opened on 13 Mar 1969 at New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, where it went on to set an Easter week record, with a seven-day gross of $285,258. A 26 Mar 1969 Los Angeles, CA, premiere followed at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, raising funds for the Maud Booth Family Center. On 23 Mar 1969, “Love Bug Day” was scheduled to take place at Disneyland, according to the 21 Mar 1969 LAT. The event included a parade and car contest in which an estimated 1,200 “bug-like” automobiles, decorated in various styles, would compete in the following four categories: “most psychedelic, most comical, most toy-like and most personality.” According to the 28 Mar 1969 LAT, decorated Volkswagen Beetles were also featured at the post-premiere party, following the screening at Grauman’s Chinese, that took place at the Max Factor Building on Highland Avenue.
       The Love Bug, one of only four original films released by Disney in 1969, became the studio’s top-grossing picture that year. The 3 Dec 1969 Var estimated that the film would take in $17 million in box-office receipts “in its initial release,” making it Disney’s second-biggest picture after Mary Poppins (1964, see entry), and largely contributing to Disney’s third best year in its history as a company. Following the film’s first run, it was re-issued on a double bill with The Jungle Book (1967, see entry), set to debut on 9 Sep 1970, according to a 31 Aug 1970 LAT brief.
       Songwriter Pinky Tomlin filed a lawsuit against Walt Disney Productions for appropriating his song title, “The Love Bug Will Bite You If You Don’t Watch Out.” On 27 Apr 1970, an article in DV reported that Tomlin lost the suit.
       On 24 Aug 1970, DV noted that a sequel was in the works, and that Buddy Hackett was in talks to reprise his role. However, Hackett wanted a pay raise, since his salary on The Love Bug had reportedly equaled four days’ pay at his Las Vegas show at the Sahara. Hackett did not end up appearing in the sequel released by Disney in 1974, Herbie Rides Again (see entry). However, Dean Jones reprised the role of “Jim Douglas” in a third film in the series, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977, see entry), which was followed by Herbie Goes Bananas (1980, see entry), and Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005, see entry). A television show based on the picture, titled Herbie, the Love Bug, premiered on Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) on 17 Mar 1982. Also starring Dean Jones as “Jim Douglas,” the show was quickly cancelled, with the last episode airing on 14 Apr 1982.
       The 19 Jan 1968 DV named Tom Clark as the film’s unit publicist. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
12 Jan 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
19 Jan 1968
p. 8.
Daily Variety
9 Apr 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Apr 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 May 1968
p. 8.
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Jul 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
9 Dec 1968
p. 3, 6.
Daily Variety
19 Dec 1968
p. 18.
Daily Variety
16 Apr 1969
p. 11.
Daily Variety
27 Apr 1970
p. 3.
Daily Variety
24 Aug 1970
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Sep 1970
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
11 May 1968
p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
2 Jul 1968
Section G, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
24 Aug 1968
Section B, p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
1 Dec 1968
Section S, p. 1, 28.
Los Angeles Times
17 Mar 1969
Section E, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
18 Mar 1969
Section G, p. 1, 7.
Los Angeles Times
21 Mar 1969
Section H, p. 20.
Los Angeles Times
27 Mar 1969
Section I, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
28 Mar 1969
Section I, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
31 Aug 1970
Section C, p. 17.
New York Times
14 Mar 1969
p. 50.
Variety
18 Dec 1968
p. 22.
Variety
13 Aug 1969
p. 5.
Variety
3 Dec 1969
p. 5.
Variety
7 Jan 1970
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2nd unit dir
Driving seq supv by
PRODUCER
Prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
Sd supv
Sd mix
Music ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
Spec photog eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Race car driver
Race car driver
DETAILS
Release Date:
13 March 1969
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 13 March 1969
Los Angeles premiere: 26 March 1969
Los Angeles opening: 27 March 1969
Production Date:
1 April--early or mid June 1968
Copyright Claimant:
Walt Disney Productions
Copyright Date:
3 December 1968
Copyright Number:
LP36528
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
107
MPAA Rating:
G
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
21993
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Jim Douglas, a racing driver with consistently bad luck, shares a bachelor flat in a turn-of-the-century San Francisco firehouse with Tennessee Steinmetz, a guru-indoctrinated scrap metal sculptor. One day, Jim is drawn into a posh automobile showroom by the attractive presence of Carole Bennett, the secretary to the showroom's stuffy manager, racing driver Peter Thorndyke. After objecting to the abusive treatment Thorndyke shows to a little white Volkswagen, Jim leaves the establishment and is followed by the grateful little car. Once a down payment has been made on the Volkswagen, which Tennessee nicknames "Herbie," Jim enters it in a race and drives to an easy win. As victory follows victory, and romance blossoms between Jim and Carole, Jim attributes his success to his own skills, but Tennessee realizes that it is Herbie who deserves the credit. Determined to get back the magical car, Thorndyke dupes Tennessee in an Irish coffee drinking bout and succeeds in getting Herbie drunk. As a result, Jim loses his next race and decides to replace Herbie with a larger model. Herbie's true worth finally becomes apparent to Jim, however; with Carole as his co-driver, he competes in a race against Thorndyke. Using every trick he knows, Thorndyke almost causes Herbie to crash, but he ultimately fails when the little car literally splits in two, thus placing first and third. Their happiness complete, Jim and Carole set off on a honeymoon -- with Herbie driving them to a destination of his own ... +


Jim Douglas, a racing driver with consistently bad luck, shares a bachelor flat in a turn-of-the-century San Francisco firehouse with Tennessee Steinmetz, a guru-indoctrinated scrap metal sculptor. One day, Jim is drawn into a posh automobile showroom by the attractive presence of Carole Bennett, the secretary to the showroom's stuffy manager, racing driver Peter Thorndyke. After objecting to the abusive treatment Thorndyke shows to a little white Volkswagen, Jim leaves the establishment and is followed by the grateful little car. Once a down payment has been made on the Volkswagen, which Tennessee nicknames "Herbie," Jim enters it in a race and drives to an easy win. As victory follows victory, and romance blossoms between Jim and Carole, Jim attributes his success to his own skills, but Tennessee realizes that it is Herbie who deserves the credit. Determined to get back the magical car, Thorndyke dupes Tennessee in an Irish coffee drinking bout and succeeds in getting Herbie drunk. As a result, Jim loses his next race and decides to replace Herbie with a larger model. Herbie's true worth finally becomes apparent to Jim, however; with Carole as his co-driver, he competes in a race against Thorndyke. Using every trick he knows, Thorndyke almost causes Herbie to crash, but he ultimately fails when the little car literally splits in two, thus placing first and third. Their happiness complete, Jim and Carole set off on a honeymoon -- with Herbie driving them to a destination of his own choosing. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.