Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

G | 145 mins | Children's works, Musical comedy | 18 December 1968

Director:

Ken Hughes

Producer:

Albert R. Broccoli

Cinematographer:

Christopher Challis

Editor:

John Shirley

Production Designer:

Ken Adam
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HISTORY

The 16 Aug 1965 DV announced that Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, known for co-producing the James Bond series of motion pictures based on Ian Fleming’s novels, planned to produce a film adaptation of Fleming’s 1964 children’s novel, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Fleming, who died the year the book was published, had based the work on bedtime stories he had made up for his son, Caspar, involving a magical car named after Count Louis Zborowski’s 1920s racing car, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” According to a 22 Oct 1967 NYT article, Albert R. Broccoli was initially uninterested in adapting the book, but changed his mind after the tremendous success of the children’s musical comedy Mary Poppins (1964, see entry).
       The 14 Dec 1965 DV stated that United Artists (UA) would back the picture, then budgeted at $8 million, according to an 11 Nov 1966 DV item. Later figures in the 20 Nov 1968 DV and 30 Apr 1968 NYT cited a final budget of $10 million, and $12 million, respectively. Earl Hamner, Jr. had finished a script by 12 Dec 1965, as noted in that day’s NYT; however, he was replaced by children’s author Roald Dahl the following year. Dahl had recently scripted the James Bond picture, You Only Live Twice (1967, see entry). The final screenplay was described in the 22 Oct 1967 NYT as a “flagrant rewrite” of the original novel. A wife character was excised, making “Caractacus Potts” a widower and allowing for a love story between him and “Truly Scrumptious.” ... More Less

The 16 Aug 1965 DV announced that Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, known for co-producing the James Bond series of motion pictures based on Ian Fleming’s novels, planned to produce a film adaptation of Fleming’s 1964 children’s novel, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Fleming, who died the year the book was published, had based the work on bedtime stories he had made up for his son, Caspar, involving a magical car named after Count Louis Zborowski’s 1920s racing car, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” According to a 22 Oct 1967 NYT article, Albert R. Broccoli was initially uninterested in adapting the book, but changed his mind after the tremendous success of the children’s musical comedy Mary Poppins (1964, see entry).
       The 14 Dec 1965 DV stated that United Artists (UA) would back the picture, then budgeted at $8 million, according to an 11 Nov 1966 DV item. Later figures in the 20 Nov 1968 DV and 30 Apr 1968 NYT cited a final budget of $10 million, and $12 million, respectively. Earl Hamner, Jr. had finished a script by 12 Dec 1965, as noted in that day’s NYT; however, he was replaced by children’s author Roald Dahl the following year. Dahl had recently scripted the James Bond picture, You Only Live Twice (1967, see entry). The final screenplay was described in the 22 Oct 1967 NYT as a “flagrant rewrite” of the original novel. A wife character was excised, making “Caractacus Potts” a widower and allowing for a love story between him and “Truly Scrumptious.” Potts’s “Toot Sweet” whistling candies were also an invention of the screenwriters. Director Ken Hughes, who received a co-writing credit, complained that Dahl was no longer around at the start of filming and was quoted as saying, “I had to rewrite the whole bleedin’ scenario.”
       The 23 Dec 1966 LAT announced the casting of Dick Van Dyke, who had starred in Mary Poppins. Anne Rogers was named as his potential co-star in the 18 Jan 1967 DV, but Sally Ann Howes ultimately won the part.
       Several crewmembers who had worked on Mary Poppins were reassembled for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, including songwriting brothers Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, music supervisor and conductor Irwin Kostal, and choreographers Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood. Production designer Ken Adam noted in the 22 Oct 1967 NYT that four vehicles were built for the shoot: a worn-out version of “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”; a restored version made to look like a 1910 racing car (which represented an earlier style than the 1920s Count Zborowksi vehicle Fleming had referenced); a speedboat version of the car; and “Baron Bromburst’s” zeppelin.
       Principal photography began in England on 17 Jul 1967, according to a 21 Jul 1967 DV production chart. Interiors were filmed at Pinewood Studios. Location shooting outside England was done in Bavaria, Germany, as stated in the 4 Oct 1967 Var, where the Neuschwanstein Castle stood in for the home of Baron Bomburst, and the town of Rothenberg ob der Tauber provided exteriors. The 18 Dec 1968 LAT review also listed the south of France as a filming site.
       During production, Dick Van Dyke endured a leg injury, the 30 Aug 1967 DV reported. The resulting delays necessitated a seven-day shooting schedule beginning in late Aug 1967.
       Eight months in advance of theatrical release, a “teaser” advertising campaign was launched in late Apr 1968 in sixteen cities, as stated in a 30 Apr 1968 NYT article. The week-long promotional campaign cost UA $620,000, and a studio executive claimed it was the largest advertising effort done by any studio that far in advance of a motion picture release. The 3 Nov 1968 NYT stated that roughly 150 tie-in items would be marketed around the release, including model cars, General Foods and Campbell Soup products, apparel, and “35 to 40 different versions of the book” to be published by various outlets such as Random House, Signet, the Scholastic Book Service, and Western Publishing Company.
       Sally Ann Howes and child co-stars Heather Ripley and Adrian Hall were scheduled to appear on a “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”-themed float at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, according to a 13 Nov 1968 Var item. The following month, the 18 Dec 1968 New York City premiere raised money for the Boys Club of Queens and was attended by 400 underprivileged children and orphans who were treated to an early dinner at Nathan’s Famous hot dog restaurant before the screening at Loew’s State Theatre.
       Following the 18 Dec 1968 opening in New York City, the film was set to be released in Los Angeles, CA, as a specialty “roadshow” engagement at Mann’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, as noted in the 13 Mar 1968 DV and 13 Nov 1968 Var. In England, a multi-city premiere was scheduled to take place on 16 Dec 1968, with a royal gala at the Odeon Leicester Square theater, according to the 31 Jul 1968 Var. In the meantime, the 19 Jul 1968 DV stated that, “in an unusual move,” Columbia Records would release a recording of the Rogers brothers song, “Hushabye Mountain,” by Tony Bennett before 1 Sep 1968, when the remaining twelve songs from the soundtrack would be released. Weeks later, the 12 Aug 1968 DV reported that Lola Fisher was recently signed to UA Records, and her first recording would be an album of the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang score.
       Advance ticket sales for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang set a record in the U.K. for UA, reaching $108,000 by 13 Dec 1968, as reported in that day’s DV. After twenty-three weeks in release in the U.S., a 6 Aug 1959 Var box-office chart listed the picture’s cumulative earnings in five cities as $3,616,170.
       Critical reception was mixed. While the 20 Nov 1968 DV unfavorably compared the film to Mary Poppins, and panned the “excruciating process work” that resulted in “borderlines between flesh and background” in special effects sequences, a positive review in the 19 Dec 1968 NYT suggested the “paper cut-out processing shot[s]” were “deliberately a little obvious technically” so that viewers could delineate between real-life and fantasy sequences. Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman received an Academy Award nomination for Music (Song – Original for the Picture) for the song “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
       A musical based on the film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli’s widow, Dana Broccoli, and daughter, Barbara Broccoli. It premiered in London, England, on 16 Apr 2002, as noted in a 22 Apr 2002 Var review. Three years later, the musical had its Broadway debut on 28 Apr 2005 at the Hilton Theatre, where it ran until 31 Dec 2005. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
16 Aug 1965
p. 1, 4.
Daily Variety
14 Dec 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
11 Nov 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
18 Jan 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Jul 1967
p. 10.
Daily Variety
30 Aug 1967
p. 2.
Daily Variety
13 Mar 1968
p. 2.
Daily Variety
19 Jul 1968
p. 3.
Daily Variety
12 Aug 1968
p. 8.
Daily Variety
20 Nov 1968
p. 3, 19.
Daily Variety
13 Dec 1968
p. 19.
Daily Variety
11 Aug 1969
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
23 Dec 1966
Section C, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
28 Aug 1968
Section E, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
18 Dec 1968
Section F, p. 30.
New York Times
12 Dec 1965.
---
New York Times
22 Oct 1967
p. 155.
New York Times
30 Apr 1968
p. 75.
New York Times
3 Nov 1968
p. 525.
New York Times
19 Dec 1968
p. 62.
New York Times
19 Dec 1968
p. 64.
Variety
29 Mar 1967
p. 21.
Variety
4 Oct 1967
p. 23.
Variety
31 Jul 1968
p. 13.
Variety
18 Sep 1968
p. 4.
Variety
23 Oct 1968
p. 61.
Variety
13 Nov 1968
p. 25.
Variety
6 Aug 1969
p. 9.
Variety
22 Apr 2002.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Addl dial
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2nd unit photog
Aerial photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus supv & cond
SOUND
Music ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Choreog
Mus numbers staged by
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Prod associate
Loc mgr
Potts' inventions created by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
the Magical Car by Ian Fleming (London, 1964).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," "Chu-Chi Face," "Doll on a Music Box," "Hushabye Mountain," "Lovely Lonely Man," "Me Ol' Bam-Boo," "Posh!," "The Roses of Success," "Toot Sweets," "Truly Scrumptious" and "You Two" music and lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.
DETAILS
Release Date:
18 December 1968
Premiere Information:
London premiere: 16 December 1968
New York opening: 18 December 1968
Los Angeles premiere: 19 December 1968
Production Date:
began 17 July 1967
Copyright Claimant:
Warfield Productions
Copyright Date:
17 December 1968
Copyright Number:
LP36650
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
gauge
35 & 70
Widescreen/ratio
Super Panavision 70
Duration(in mins):
145
MPAA Rating:
G
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
21682
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Caractacus Potts is a woefully unsuccessful inventor who lives in an Edwardian mill house with his two small children, Jemima and Jeremy, and their eccentric grandfather. In an attempt to raise thirty shillings so that the children can purchase a dilapidated racing car from a junk dealer, Potts tries to sell his latest invention, whistling sweets, to Lord Scrumptious, the owner of the local candy factory. The demonstration at Scrumptious's factory is a catastrophe; but the undaunted Potts gains the attention of Scrumptious's daughter, Truly, and performs with a troupe of folk dancers at a country fair to earn money to buy the car. Using a few odds and ends, plus a great deal of hard work and imagination, Potts converts the old wreck into a shiny new contraption which is affectionately named "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." While on a seaside picnic with the children and Truly, Potts weaves a story about the magical powers of the car: The evil Baron Bomburst of Vulgaria, who has learned that Chitty Chitty can sail on the water and soar through the sky, is determined to have Potts make him a duplicate model. But it is Grandpa Potts that the Baron's pirates kidnap by mistake and carry away by airship. Witnessing the abduction, Potts, Truly, and the children give chase by flying in Chitty Chitty to far-off Vulgaria. There they learn that Baroness Bomburst so despises children that she has forbidden them in the kingdom. Because of this, Jemima and Jeremy become victims of the royal Child Catcher and are imprisoned in the castle. Aided by the village toymaker and all the children who have escaped capture by hiding in an ... +


Caractacus Potts is a woefully unsuccessful inventor who lives in an Edwardian mill house with his two small children, Jemima and Jeremy, and their eccentric grandfather. In an attempt to raise thirty shillings so that the children can purchase a dilapidated racing car from a junk dealer, Potts tries to sell his latest invention, whistling sweets, to Lord Scrumptious, the owner of the local candy factory. The demonstration at Scrumptious's factory is a catastrophe; but the undaunted Potts gains the attention of Scrumptious's daughter, Truly, and performs with a troupe of folk dancers at a country fair to earn money to buy the car. Using a few odds and ends, plus a great deal of hard work and imagination, Potts converts the old wreck into a shiny new contraption which is affectionately named "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang." While on a seaside picnic with the children and Truly, Potts weaves a story about the magical powers of the car: The evil Baron Bomburst of Vulgaria, who has learned that Chitty Chitty can sail on the water and soar through the sky, is determined to have Potts make him a duplicate model. But it is Grandpa Potts that the Baron's pirates kidnap by mistake and carry away by airship. Witnessing the abduction, Potts, Truly, and the children give chase by flying in Chitty Chitty to far-off Vulgaria. There they learn that Baroness Bomburst so despises children that she has forbidden them in the kingdom. Because of this, Jemima and Jeremy become victims of the royal Child Catcher and are imprisoned in the castle. Aided by the village toymaker and all the children who have escaped capture by hiding in an underground cave, Potts and Truly masquerade as life-sized puppets and gain entry to the Baron's birthday party. At a given signal, all the children rush in and lead a successful mutiny in freeing Vulgaria from tyranny. With Grandpa, Jemima, and Jeremy rescued, Potts and Truly fly home in Chitty Chitty. After the picnic, Lord Scrumptious offers Potts a contract for manufacturing the whistling sweets as candies for dogs. As Potts, Truly, and the children drive off, their happiness is such that they are unaware that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has once more taken to the skies. +

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

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