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How well do you really remember Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? If you saw it as a child – and you’d be hard pressed to find somebody who didn’t – chances are that your abiding memories are reflected either in a mysterious ability to sing the infuriatingly catchy theme tune word for word at the drop of a hat, or in an abiding terror of Robert Helpmann’s horrifying Child Catcher.
Both of these elements are certainly memorable, but you might be surprised how much else Chitty Chitty Bang Bang packs into its unwieldy 145 minute runtime – not to mention how flat out insane most of it is. Did you, for example, recall that the film opens with a man apparently being burned to death? Or that Baron and Baroness Bomburst of Vulgaria are clearly engaged in some kind of kinky S&M-tinged sexual role play?
These elements appear less incongruous when you learn that the author Roald Dahl, had a hand in writing the screenplay. The combination of Dahl’s wickedly dark world view and the light fantasy elements from the original novel never quite hang together enough to form a coherent whole, but there’s enough charm, invention and subversion on display to elevate it above much of the forgettable sugar that emerged in the aftermath of Mary Poppins.
Like the plot, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’s soundtrack is also a hit and miss affair. The title track is an era-defining earworm, and high energy performance pieces like Toot Sweets and Me Ol’ Bam-Boo also stand the test of time, but they’re noticeably padded out by utterly forgettable fare like the insufferably twee Truly Scrumptious and the dreary stalker anthem Lovely Lonely Man.
It may have been almost fifty years since Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was released, but given that a sequel to Mary Poppins is currently in production, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the movie could be revived. At time of writing, both principal stars Dick Van Dyke and Sally Ann Howes are still alive, so there’s even potential for some torch-passing cameos. On this week’s podcast, we hashed out a few ideas for where a franchise reboot might go if we had our way…
John’s Pitch | Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 2: Return to Vulgaria
Harry’s Pitch | A Shitty Shitty Romance
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Reviews, interactions and subscribes don’t just feed our collective ego, they also do wonders in terms of helping our twisted little podcast to find new listeners, so please do reach out to us in any way that you can if you enjoy what we do. We end all of our episodes with a listener submission section, so send us your ideas for a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang sequel, prequel or reboot if you’d like us to give you a shout out. FYI, the all-too-plausible idea of Johnny Depp as the Child Catcher in a Tim Burton-helmed remake has already been taken…