Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

  • Title: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  • Director: Ken Hughes
  • Date: 1968
  • Studio: United Artists / MGM
  • Genre: Musical, Children, Romance
  • Cast: Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Lionel Jeffries, Benny Hill
  • Format: Technicolor, Widescreen
  • DVD Format: R1, NTSC

Do you think they’re going to get married?” — Jeremy
“Has he kissed her yet?” — Jemina
“Not yet.” — Jeremy
“Just as soon as he kisses her – then they’ll have to get married.” –Jemina

In Edwardian England, Mr. Potts (Dick Van Dyke), a poor inventor, is raising his two young children on his own. Simultaneously two things happen – his children want him to buy a wrecked race car for 30 shillings because it’s been their plaything and the local junk man wants to melt it for scrap; and, Potts runs into Truly Scrumptious, daughter of the local candy maker.

Potts brings one of his few working inventions, a candy that whistles, to the Scrumptious Candy Factory hoping to raise some money – he fails, he thinks, when the factory is invaded by dogs. But later, he ends up at a fun fair, where he performs with a singing/dancing group (“Me Ol’ Bamboo”) – to his surprise, coins flood the stage and he ends up with more than enough to buy the wrecked car. He tows it, behind a horse, back to his workshop, and spends days putting the car back together. But when it’s done it’s a truly wonderful car.

To celebrate the completion of the car, Potts takes his children to the beach for a picnic. He runs into Truly, and she comes along. A fine day is had by all, and as they are winding up the picnic, the children ask their father for a story – about pirates. Potts begins to tell the story, and suddenly they are in the story – pirates come to take Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the car turns into a boat and they escape. The story is not over, though, because when they return home … Baron Bomburst has taken Grandpa Potts away in his dirigible – believing him to be Professor Potts, the man who invented the floating car.

Potts, Truly, and the children follow, in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which has now grown wings and flies. They arrive in Vulgaria, where the local toymaker (Benny Hill) tells them children have been outlawed because the local Baroness (Bomburst) hates children. The toymaker hides the four, but while Potts goes to find his father, the children are captured by the local “child catcher”. However, Potts, the toymaker, Truly, and eventually, the captured children revolt at the castle and Potts family is freed and they escape.

Dissolve to Potts concluding that they “all lived happily ever after”, as the four sit in the car at the beach. Potts drops off Truly, declaring it would be ridiculous for them to get married. But when he gets home, he discovers his father and her father playing toy soldiers in his living room. It seems his father was Mr. Scrumptious’s batman and Scrumptious was his “brigadier”. Also, further testing has shown Potts whistle treats are awful for people but terribly popular with dogs – he wants to offer Potts a contract that will make him rich. Before he can even accept Potts rushes off to find Truly – who is rushing off to find him. Potts kisses her – and she replies, “Now you have to marry me!”.  And everyone is happy.

The Technicolor filming really adds to this movie – the colors pop right off the screen. But for a children’s movie it is quite long (it even has the dreaded intermission). Also, other than the title song, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, and “Doll on a Music Box” the music is only so-so, and there really isn’t much dancing (and what there is manages to be rather static). Overall, I much prefer Van Dyke’s “Mary Poppins”. But, the movie must be given credit as a fun fantasy for children.

Trivia: The film is based on a book by Ian Fleming, produced by Albert R Broccoli, and filmed on location in England, Germany, and France, and at Pinewood Studios in England. If you’re wondering – yes, it is the same Ian Fleming who wrote James Bond. And Albert Broccoli produced many of the Bond films, which were often filmed at Pinewood.

Musical Numbers

  • You Two
  • Toot Sweets
  • Hushabye Mountain
  • Me Ol’ Bamboo
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
  • Truly Scrumptious
  • This Lovely Lonely Man
  • POSH (Port Out, Starboard Home)
  • Roses of Success
  • Hushabye Mountain (reprise)
  • Chu-Chi Face
  • Doll on a Music Box
  • Truly Scrumptious (reprise)
  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (reprise)

Recommendation: Show it to your kids.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Next Film: A Chorus Line