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Wednesday, 2 May, 2001, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
The cult of the flying car
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has become a musical classic
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is considered by many as one of the great musical films of all time.

Its regular showing on terrestrial television, usually around holiday time, is a testament to its longevity.

The 1968 film has just seen a re-release on video, bringing it whole new generation to the flying car.

The film was directed by Ken Hughes, who has died from Alzheimer's at the age of 79.

He also devised the screenplay alongside children's author Roald Dahl.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was brought together by James Bond producer Albert R Broccoli and based on a series of stories by Bond author Ian Fleming.

The tale is of an eccentric professor, played by Dick Van Dyke, who invents weird and wacky machinery.

When he creates a revolutionary flying car, hi-jinx ensue when the baddies try and get their hands on it to use it for their own gain.

Frightening

When the evil baron kidnaps all the children it is up to Van Dyke's Caractacus Potts to rescue them.

The scenes where the Childcatcher captures the children was voted one of the 100 most frightening in an Empire magazine poll.

Broccoli had a vision for the film and, sparing no expense, assembled an international team to collaborate on it.

Songwriters Richard and Robert Sherman were drafted in fresh from their Academy Award success for Mary Poppins.

The pair wrote 12 musical numbers which added to the film's wide appeal.

Arranger and conductor Irwin Kostal was recruited in the wake of his critically acclaimed works West Side Story and The Sound of Music.

The cast list included Lionel Jeffries, Benny Hill, Sally Ann Howes, Desmond Llewllyn and Barbara Windsor.

Following the films release, the flying car itself gained a celebrity status with its own registration GEN 11.

It is still hired out for weddings and personal appearances.

See also:

17 Aug 99 | Scotland
Chitty star in eviction wrangle
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