Fast Film Friday: THX-1138

~ by Chris #16 Demaras ~

I like to think of myself as a movie aficionado. I’ve seen Citizen Kane, The Godfather Part 2 and all eight Fast & Furious movies…at the theatre! But until this year, I’d never heard of George Lucas’ movie, THX-1138.

Anyone who’s been to a movie theatre in the past 30 years knows the “THX” company and its iconic sound check. But in 1971, recent USC film school graduate George Lucas (Star Wars…same guy) released a dystopian science fiction film called THX-1138.

The alpha numeric title is also name of the protagonist. A bald-headed Robert Duval, dressed in a clinical white uniform, lives in the 25th century where individual choice, freedom, and love have been outlawed. THX-1138 works in a dangerous factory assembling police robots which in turn herd the citizens into compliance.

With the help of a good woman and some strong drugs, THX-1138 rebels against society, gets thrown in jail, then escapes. To reach the city limits, THX-1138 steals a police car and races through nearly deserted tunnels beneath the futuristic city. That final part of the movie is when things really pick up. Old THX doesn’t just steal any car; he hotwires a 1967 Lola T70 Mark III racecar!

For the futuristic movie, the Le Mans prototype was tarted up with police lights on the roof and rocker panels, plus the obligatory jet engines behind the driver. THX-1138’s fellow escapee steals a black Lola, and promptly crashes into a concrete pillar in the parking garage. But not Bobby D! He takes off with robot cops in hot pursuit on Triumph motorcycles with futuristic looking Avon fairings.

A fantastic chase scene filmed in the Broadway tunnel in San Francisco and the Alameda tunnel in Oakland.

Interestingly, the T70 used in the movie was quite a significant race car. The coupe was built in July 1967 (serial number SL73/117) and was sold brand new to James Garner (the American actor from the 1966 movie Grand Prix). The car was entered in the 1968 Twelve Hours of Sebring, several Can Am races, the 1969 24 Hours of Daytona, where it placed second. Garner then sold the car after the movie studios forbid him from racing activities in 1969. Old, uncompetitive race cars were not valued in the 60’s the way modern collectors value them. With Lucas was filming “THX-1138” in 1971, it was the perfect time to buy up a couple Lola T70s for cheap to turn into movie props.


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