Written by / 9/09/2015 / No comments / , , , , ,

DEAN JONES IN DISNEY'S THE LOVE BUG

year: 1968
Always a surprise when realizing the first HERBIE isn't named after the speedster Volkswagen with a mind of its own, but instead describes the make and personality being THE LOVE BUG. And while we recently lost Martin Milner... just last week, Dean Jones, the staple of so many live-action Disney films, passed on...

A sort of James Stewart with less drawwwl and looking somewhat like Sean Connery only much smaller and not so aggressive, Jones had a way of being likable and interesting, usually playing the underdog like our hero, Jim, a low-rent race car driver who goes up against rich jerk David Tomlinson, a villain so classy and vile he does everything except tying ingenue Michele Lee to railroad tracks. And far exceeding the otherwise brilliant Don Knotts in the somewhat lackluster sequel taking place in MONTE CARLO, Buddy Hackett makes for a funny yet subtle sidekick, adding a sort of hippie cadence along with various "flower people" providing a sign of the times during the crest of the psychedelic era.

This first and best Herbie venture relies mostly on tearing around the San Fran streets and race tracks, and while the big cross half-country journey gets a tad overlong towards the end, and we can only see the poor car getting tampered with so many times (why would a human-like vehicle allow being screwed with in the first place?), LOVE BUG is the perfect combination of road romping and human interaction i.e. a sublime romance between man and car.

Rating: ***1/2
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