Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968): Ken Hughes Musical, Starring Dick Van Dyke

Dick Van Dyke and the “Mary Poppins” composer and lyricist, Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, have made this fantasy musical, based on the children’s book by Ian Fleming, better known for the James Bond creation.

Van Dyke plays Caractacus Potts, a failed inventor who lives in a big house with his two children, Jemima Heather Ripley and Jeremy Adrian Hall, and eccentric father Lionel Jeffries.

Potts needs to raise 30 shillings so his children can buy a broken-down racing car from the junkyard. After a disastrous attempt to sell his invention of whistling sweets to Lord Scrumptious (James Robertson-Justice), the local candy maker, he gets enough money for the car by doing a dance routine at the county fair.

Potts transforms it into a shiny new car named Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. While on a picnic with the children and Truly Scrumptious (Sally Ann Howes), Lord Scrumptious’ daughter, Potts concocts a fantasy tale about the magical powers of the car, which can now float on water and fly.

Greedy Baron Bomburst (Gert Frobe) wants the car for himself and kidnaps it and the inventor. But Bomburst captures Grandpa by mistake along with the wrong car, so Potts, Truly, and the children decide to use Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to rescue Grandpa.

The original choice for the female part was Julie Andrews, star of “Mary Poppins,” but the producers settled on Sally Ann Howes, who, as it turns out, succeeded Andrews in the Broadway production of “My Fair Lady.”

Overlong, the movie overstays its welcome by at least 20 minutes.

Oscar Nominations: 1

Song: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, by Richard M.Sherman and Robert B. Sherman,

 

Oscar Context:

The Best Song Oscar winner was The Windmills of Your Mind, from The Thomas Crown Affair.

MPAA: G.

Running time: 142 minutes.

Directed by Ken Hughes.

Written By Roald Dahl, Ken Hughes, Richard Maibaum.

DVD: November 10, 1998

United Artists