The Gumball Rally (1976)

PG | 107 mins | Comedy | 1976

Director:

Chuck Bail

Writer:

Leon Capetanos

Producer:

Chuck Bail

Cinematographer:

Richard C. Glouner

Production Designer:

Walter Simonds

Production Companies:

Warner Bros. Pictures , A First Artists' Production
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HISTORY

An article in the 8 Dec 1975 Box announced Paul Lohman as the cinematographer for The Gumball Rally. Former bandleader Carlos Molina was signed to appear in the film as a retired businessman, according to the 30 Dec 1975 DV, although his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       A news item in the 12 Dec 1975 HR reported that two days of filming for The Gumball Rally would take place in New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, followed by location work on the George Washington Bridge. Photography had already been completed in other New York City locations, specifically Times Square and Broadway. In the 31 Dec 1975 HR, a news item announced that two weeks of filming in New York City had been completed, and photography was in progress in Los Angeles, CA, until 2 Jan 1976. An undated news item in HR, circa Jan 1976, reported that filming had begun in Flagstaff, AZ, to be followed by locations in Prescott, Yuma and Phoenix, before the production returned to Los Angeles for completion. Production notes from AMPAS files stated that additional New York City locations included Wall Street, Park Avenue, and the Lincoln Tunnel, along with the Union Turnpike in NJ. According to the notes, “it took 61 days to bring the racing drivers and their cars from Manhattan to Long Beach.” Writer-director-producer Chuck Bail placed stunt driver John Morton in charge of a drivers’ clinic, which instructed the actors on how to drive safely at high speeds. In an article ... More Less

An article in the 8 Dec 1975 Box announced Paul Lohman as the cinematographer for The Gumball Rally. Former bandleader Carlos Molina was signed to appear in the film as a retired businessman, according to the 30 Dec 1975 DV, although his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       A news item in the 12 Dec 1975 HR reported that two days of filming for The Gumball Rally would take place in New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, followed by location work on the George Washington Bridge. Photography had already been completed in other New York City locations, specifically Times Square and Broadway. In the 31 Dec 1975 HR, a news item announced that two weeks of filming in New York City had been completed, and photography was in progress in Los Angeles, CA, until 2 Jan 1976. An undated news item in HR, circa Jan 1976, reported that filming had begun in Flagstaff, AZ, to be followed by locations in Prescott, Yuma and Phoenix, before the production returned to Los Angeles for completion. Production notes from AMPAS files stated that additional New York City locations included Wall Street, Park Avenue, and the Lincoln Tunnel, along with the Union Turnpike in NJ. According to the notes, “it took 61 days to bring the racing drivers and their cars from Manhattan to Long Beach.” Writer-director-producer Chuck Bail placed stunt driver John Morton in charge of a drivers’ clinic, which instructed the actors on how to drive safely at high speeds. In an article in the 10 Oct 1976 NYT, Bail explained that the high-speed driving sequences, filmed in live traffic, were accomplished with the cooperation of police departments throughout the country. Said Bail, “We had policemen out in front with their lights on.”
       An article in the 9 Jan 1976 HR reported that Warner Bros., Inc. arranged with First Artists Productions (FAP) to have the FAP’s president, Phil Feldman, assume executive producer duties for The Gumball Rally. Prior to the arrangement, Warner Bros. handled distribution for FAP films. First Artists’ cooperation was also anticipated for the promotion of the $4.5 million film.
       According to the 10 Jan 1976 LAT, The Gumball Rally was the first FAP release that did not star any of the company’s founders, which included actors Dustin Hoffman, Barbara Streisand, Steve McQueen, Sidney Poitier and Paul Newman.
       Production notes listed the following vehicles used in the film: Cobra, Ferrari, Porsche Targa, Mercedes-Benz 300SL roadster, Rolls Royce, Dodge Interceptor, Kawasaki motorcycle. The list also included three Chevrolets: a Camaro, a Corvette, and a van. Each of these vehicles had a duplicate on hand in the event of severe damage.
       The film was promoted with a two-page advertisement in the 19 Jul 1976 Box. Leaf Confectionary, Inc., manufactured and distributed three billion gumballs with the film’s title printed on each, available though special vending machines and store displays. A car with the Gumball Rally logo was entered in the Watkins Glen Formula 5000 Gold Cup in New York. A nationwide Gumball Rally sweepstakes was organized, offering prizes such as a Datsun pickup truck and Kawasaki motorcycles. The Goodyear Blimp, emblazoned with the film’s title in electric lights, flew over the 4 Jul 1976 Bicentennial celebration in New York City, and was scheduled to appear elsewhere in the U.S. Warner Bros. partnered with several automotive supply companies, including Bosch, Castrol, Purolator, Cibie and Goodyear, to promote the film. A “teaser trailer” program was in development two months at the time of the advertisement. Chuck Bail and actor Michael Sarrazin were scheduled to embark on a personal-appearance tour, accompanied by several of the stunt drivers. According to the 26 Jul 1976 Box, Sarrazin spent a week in New York City giving interviews on radio, television and in the press, and Bail appeared in Atlanta, GA; New Orleans, LA; Dallas, TX; Pittsburgh, PA; and Kansas City, MO.
       The 6 Aug 1976 Entertainment Today reported a promotional automobile race along 160 yards of Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, sponsored by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, called the “Gumball Safety Rally.” The competitors were radio and television sportscasters, and newspaper sports editors.
       The majority of reviews for The Gumball Rally were negative, with the notable exception of the review in the 5 Aug 1976 LAT, which stated that the film “can be lots of fun for those who like all-out racing pictures.”
       As noted in 30 Dec 1975 DV and 2 Jan 1976 HR news items, The Gumball Rally reunited actors Vaughn Taylor and J. Pat O’Malley, who worked together in live television during the early 1950s. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
8 Dec 1975.
---
Box Office
19 Jul 1976.
---
Box Office
26 Jul 1976.
---
Daily Variety
30 Dec 1975.
---
Daily Variety
31 Dec 1975.
---
Entertainment Today
6 Aug 1976
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Dec 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Dec 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
Jan 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jan 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jul 1976
p. 3, 9.
Los Angeles Times
10 Jan 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Aug 1976
p. 14.
New York Times
21 Aug 1976
p. 13.
New York Times
10 Oct 1976.
---
Variety
28 Jul 1976
p. 24.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam op
Key grip
Gaffer
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Best boy
Elec
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Ed Assoc
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Leadman
Construction coord
Asst prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Prod mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Title des
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Unit pub
Transportation capt
Insert driver
Insert driver
Mechanic
Mechanic
Prod services and equipment provided by
Prod secy
Secy to prod/dir
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Transportation co-capt
Casting, Arizona
Craft service
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
Stuntman
SOURCES
SONGS
Theme by Dominic Frontiere and David Pomerantz.
DETAILS
Release Date:
1976
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 4 August 1976
New York opening: 20 August 1976
Production Date:
December 1975--February 1976
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc.
Copyright Date:
23 July 1976
Copyright Number:
LP46545
Physical Properties:
Color
Technicolor
Lenses
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
107
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

During a business meeting in a New York City skyscraper, Richter Candy Company president Michael Bannon phones his friend “Smitty” in Santa Barbara, California, and says, “Gumball.” Bannon ends the meeting, while Smitty jumps from a second-floor balcony into his swimming pool in Santa Barbara. Meanwhile, in Boston, Massachusetts, Professor Sam Graves gets a telegram containing the single word, “Gumball.” He phones Bannon, voicing his concerns about the risks. Bannon replies, “It’s not a risk, it’s a challenge.” In Los Angeles, California, police officers Kandinsky and Avila receive the same telegram, and in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, suburban housewife Alice hops into a Porsche sports car driven by her friend, Jane. In Bridgeport, Connecticut, elderly gentlemen Andy and Barney speed through a parking lot in a Mercedes sports car. Following a demolition derby in Rockingham, North Carolina, Gibson and Ace “Mr. Guts” Preston join the race. Arriving in New York City, Smitty greets an Italian racecar driver named Franco, as Lt. Roscoe observes them from a distance. Early the next morning, Roscoe watches as Gibson, Preston, Jane and Alice drive into a New York City garage. Later, in a restaurant banquet room, Bannon and Smitty address the Gumball Rally participants, warning them about Lt. Roscoe and describing the route. The first car to reach the Queen Mary parking lot in Long Beach, California, is the unofficial winner. The cross-country record is thirty-four hours, eleven minutes, set by Bannon himself. After the meeting, Bannon chides Smitty on his ability to attract Roscoe’s attention. At the garage, the drivers tune up their vehicles as Jose, a mechanic, serves ... +


During a business meeting in a New York City skyscraper, Richter Candy Company president Michael Bannon phones his friend “Smitty” in Santa Barbara, California, and says, “Gumball.” Bannon ends the meeting, while Smitty jumps from a second-floor balcony into his swimming pool in Santa Barbara. Meanwhile, in Boston, Massachusetts, Professor Sam Graves gets a telegram containing the single word, “Gumball.” He phones Bannon, voicing his concerns about the risks. Bannon replies, “It’s not a risk, it’s a challenge.” In Los Angeles, California, police officers Kandinsky and Avila receive the same telegram, and in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, suburban housewife Alice hops into a Porsche sports car driven by her friend, Jane. In Bridgeport, Connecticut, elderly gentlemen Andy and Barney speed through a parking lot in a Mercedes sports car. Following a demolition derby in Rockingham, North Carolina, Gibson and Ace “Mr. Guts” Preston join the race. Arriving in New York City, Smitty greets an Italian racecar driver named Franco, as Lt. Roscoe observes them from a distance. Early the next morning, Roscoe watches as Gibson, Preston, Jane and Alice drive into a New York City garage. Later, in a restaurant banquet room, Bannon and Smitty address the Gumball Rally participants, warning them about Lt. Roscoe and describing the route. The first car to reach the Queen Mary parking lot in Long Beach, California, is the unofficial winner. The cross-country record is thirty-four hours, eleven minutes, set by Bannon himself. After the meeting, Bannon chides Smitty on his ability to attract Roscoe’s attention. At the garage, the drivers tune up their vehicles as Jose, a mechanic, serves champagne. A van carrying two hundred gallons of gasoline prepares to accompany the racers while Kandinsky and Avila have loaded the trunk of their police car with emblems from all of the cities and states through which they expect to pass. While tuning up his Cobra, Bannon talks to Graves about his lifelong rivalry with Smitty. The day before the race begins, the racers intercept a police radio transmission from Roscoe, and learn that they can keep tabs on him as he follows them. Although Jose was not planning to drive, he answers a newspaper advertisement and is hired to drive a Rolls Royce to Los Angeles; he uses the vehicle as his racecar. The night before the race, a drawing determines the starting order. Early the next morning, Bannon sabotages Roscoe’s car while the lieutenant sleeps. At six o’clock a.m., Gibson and Preston start the race. When Roscoe starts his car, the front axle detaches. As the racers speed through the empty streets of New York City, Roscoe is mugged at a phone booth while calling the police. Before joining the race, Jose picks up his girlfriend, Angie, who is furious about going to California. Gibson gets pulled over by the police as they cross into New Jersey, while Alice and Jane review their glossary of Citizen’s Band (CB) radio jargon. Smitty, having hired a crew of Italian mechanics for the race, makes his first scheduled pit stop. In the Camaro, Gibson makes an unsuccessful attempt to urinate in a bottle as Preston careens along the highway. Meanwhile, Roscoe and a unit of Illinois State Police wait for the Gumball racers. Roscoe tries to pursue Smitty and Franco in a helicopter, but it is no match for their Ferrari. Sometime later, the gasoline van catches fire when a leak in the fuel tank is ignited by a discarded cigarette; the crew barely escapes as the van crashes into a fireworks factory. Kandinsky and Avila gain on the Camaro with the help of their flashing lights and siren, while Jose tries unsuccessfully to convince Angie, an aspiring actress, that the trip to Los Angeles is for her benefit. Her violent response causes a chain reaction of destruction and the Rolls Royce narrowly escapes. In Nebraska, Roscoe creates a roadblock to catch Smitty and Franco, but they continue uninterrupted, hidden in the back of a tractor-trailer. In Oklahoma, a sheriff’s engine explodes while he tries to catch Gibson and Preston, and he unwittingly sends Kandinsky and Avila in pursuit. Smitty is abandoned by Franco, who prefers to spend the night with a pretty female motorist, but the two men are later reunited. Meanwhile, Jose and Angie triumph over a biker gang. Elsewhere, Kandinsky and Avila arouse the suspicion of a highway patrolman, but convince him that he stepped into a movie shoot and offer him a part. As the Gumball Rally approaches California, Bannon and Smitty vie for the lead. At a gas station in the California desert, a man offers to spy on Roscoe’s operation for $500. When the drivers suspect that the man is working for Roscoe, they slow their cars to fifty-five miles per hour as they approach the speed trap. Sometime later, Bannon and Smitty get their revenge on the spy. As the rally approaches the finish line, a Los Angeles traffic jam slows the drivers’ progress. Kandinsky and Avila withdraw from the race when they stop to help a woman deliver a baby, but Bannon and Graves take a shortcut through the Los Angeles River bed, followed by Smitty and Franco. Gibson maneuvers the Camaro onto its side, but it rolls over, taking him and Preston out of the race. Arriving in Los Angeles, Jose delivers the damaged Rolls Royce to its owner, who is much more interested in Angie and offers to put her in the movies. With the finish line in sight, Bannon employs “Emergency Plan Alpha,” a large-breasted female hitchhiker, to distract Franco. The plan almost works, but a line of pedestrians stops traffic just short of the finish line. Although Smitty and Franco catch up, Bannon and Graves win the race, as Roscoe looks on in defeat. Throughout the evening, other drivers cross the finish line, including Kandinsky and Avila, with Gibson and Preston in the back seat, and Jose, who arrives on a skateboard and is greeted by Angie. Roscoe and Bannon celebrate with champagne, until a fleet of police cars and tow trucks remove their vehicles. When Smitty asks Bannon how he plans to get back to New York, the word “gumball” passes through the crowd. +

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

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