Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977)


USA. 1977.


Director – Vincent McEveety, Screenplay – Arthur Alsberg & Don Nelson, Producer – Ron Miller, Photography – Leonard J. South, Additional Photography – Charles F. Wheeler, Music – Frank De Vol, Matte Artist – P.S. Ellenshaw, Special Effects – Art Cruickshank, Danny Lee & Eustace Lycett, Makeup – Robert J. Schiffer, Art Direction – Perry Ferguson & John B. Mansbridge. Production Company – Disney


Dean Jones (Jim Douglas), Don Knotts (Wheely Applegate), Julie Sommars (Diane Darcy), Jacques Marin (Inspector Bouchet), Roy Kinnear (Quincey), Bernard Fox (Max), Xavier Saint Macary (Detective Fontenay), Eric Braeden (Bruno Von Stickle)


After a twelve-year absence, Jim Douglas makes a return to the racetrack. He enters Herbie in the Trans France race from Paris to Monte Carlo. There, Herbie falls in love with the Lancier driven by fellow racer Diane Darcy. Meanwhile, two thieves fleeing from the police place a valuable stolen diamond inside Herbie’s gas tank and are determined to get it back at all costs.

Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo was the third of Disney’s Herbie films, following The Love Bug (1969) and Herbie Rides Again (1974). It was the last worthwhile entry before the series went downhill with the insipid Herbie Goes Bananas (1980), the mercifully short-lived tv series Herbie the Love Bug (1981), the quirky tv movie remake The Love Bug (1997) and the belated Lindsay Lohan-starring revival Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005).

Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo brings back Dean Jones from the first film, who was absent in the second. This entry takes its cue from the inspired slapstick that made the previous entry Herbie Rides Again into the highlight of the series. The international jewel thief capers and French setting was possibly Disney attempting to mimic the success of the Peter Sellers Pink Panther films, which were at their height around this time. The main gimmick with this film is having Herbie fall in love with another car. Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo is a much slighter and quieter effort than Herbie Rides Again. Nevertheless, there are some charmingly dippy sight gags with the two cars flirting on the racetrack, romancing together through the streets of Paris, throwing one another flowers, dancing around gardens, driving along the river bank and sailing down The Seine on a barge.

Dean Jones gives another plodding and dull performance. Both Don Knotts and Roy Kinnear appear to have been cast for their ability to resemble live-action cartoon characters. Julie Sommars’ Darcy – the woman racing driver who is constantly fighting off patronising comments from men – represents a cautious feminine liberation entering into the usually conservative Disney universe.

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