How can ‘Driving Miss Daisy‘ be filed under Fast Film Fridays? The 1989 drama explores racism against blacks and Jews in the Southern US, and examines American society undergoing major social changes from the 1940s to late 1960s (focusing on civil rights movement). Not exactly ‘The Fast & The Furious but make no mistake; ‘Driving Miss Daisy‘ is absolutely a gearhead movie. Society is reflected in the cars that Hoke Colburn drives Miss Daisy around in.

In the opening scene, Miss Daisy is already a little old lady, and kind of frail. The messes up while reversing her car out of the garage, launches it over a and berm, and into her neighbour’s yard. The 1947 Chrysler Royal she drives symbolizes the past, of WWII-era America; big and bloated and chrome plated. Despite its’s size and strength, one stupid mistake, and it’s like a turtle on it’s back, while everyone watches and laughs.

The little old lady’s family decides she shouldn’t drive any more, so they hire a chuffer. The relationship between the rich old white lady and the poor black driver is explored, but the 1949 Hudson Commodore which the insurance company replaced the wrecked Chrysler with represents vigor and ingenuity of America. Hudson’s of this era were revolutionary, with their ‘step down’ floor positioned below the frame rails, the car had incredible handling, and were commonly used as race cars.

The film spans several decades, and years into the film the burgundy Hudson is traded in for a black 1955 Cadillac Fleetwood 60 Special. This car symbolizes wealth and stability. Its long and black like a stretch limo, with chrome bumpers and pointed ‘Dagmars’ worn like jewelry. Some of the most emotional scenes between the two protagonists happen while driving in this car.

The third act of the film takes place in the mid-60’s and centres around the civil rights movement. The old land-yacht is long gone, replaced by a sleek new 1965 Cadillac Calais. This car represents modernism and the break from traditional beliefs and forms. While the black man is still driving, and the rich white lady is still being chauffeured, their beliefs have begun to change and converge.

This 30+ year old movie, set 50 to 70 years ago, is a little dated. It’s a bit of a road movie, when the couple drive to Alabama and plenty of time is spent in cars, so that’s a positive. This isn’t a car movie be any measure, but any film with “Driving” in the title can’t be all bad.

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