Mustang in Movies: The 10 Best Silver-Screen Smokeouts in a 'Stang

April 21, 2009

The anniversary bash is over--45 years old, can you believe it?--but the Mustang birthday party is still going on over at our High Gear Media outpost for all things ponycar,

To celebrate the very big moment in Mustang history, our ponycar expert Matt Rigney put together a great compendium of the best of the more than 500 movie appearances made by the Ford Mustang in its nearly half-century of existence. Add in TV programs, and it's easily over 1000 spots for the 'Stang.

Everyone knows Steve McQueen's star turns, squeals and leaps in a Mustang in Bullitt--shame on you if you don't, but the video clip's at the end of this post. But that nine-minute mini-epic is just the most famous in a long string of chases involving the Ford icon--from Gone in Sixty Seconds, both times (1974 and, well, the Nick Cage fiasco); the War of the Worlds remake sporting the 'Stang and a tolerable Tom Cruise; and I Am Legend, with Hollywood's other gossip headliner, Will Smith.

Rigney's highlights for the Mustang films include these gems:

Goldfinger (1964) – The first movie to show off Ford’s new sporty car, a white 1964½ convertible driven by a beautiful woman assassin. After a brief chase in the Swiss Alps, Sean Connery in his Aston Martin DB5 borrows a trick from a chariot racer in Ben-Hur to shred the Mustang’s tires and its rocker panel.

Bullitt (1968) – Steve McQueen is the hardened police detective who drives a 1968 Mustang GT390 in a nine-minute, 42-second car chase against killers in a black Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco, long before Michael Douglas and, well, club kids.

Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) – For slam-shifting action, it’s hard to beat this B-movie about an insurance-man-turned-car-thief forced to steal 48 cars which have been given female names to foil eavesdroppers. The second half of the movie is a 40-minute car chase that destroys 93 cars, leaving the getaway vehicle, an orange 1973 Mustang Mach I, much worse for wear.

Bull Durham (1988) – Kevin Costner plays a fading minor leager in this comedy, with the able Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. Costner’s character drives a 1968 Shelby Mustang GT350 convertible through the streets of Durham, N.C., cleverly avoiding an education at nearby Duke University.

True Crime (1999) – Clint Eastwood plays a reporter with a messy personal life who gets one more chanc e to get it right after something doesn’t add up in the case of a Death Row inmate facing imminent execution. His car matches the man – a 1983 Mustang convertible with more than a few miles on it.

Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000) – In this remake of the earlier film, retired car thief Nicolas Cage has to boost 50 cars in 24 hours to save his kid brother from killers. The ultimate prize is Eleanor, a silver and black 1967 Shelby GT500 styled by car builder Chip Foose. This version grossed $101 million at the box office and spawned a quick-to-DVD sequel.

The Princess Diaries (2001) – Nouveau-Audrey figurine Anne Hathaway stars as Mia, an awkward 15-year-old who learns that she’s actually a princess by her royal grandmother, played by Julie Andrews. Initially, all Mia wants to do is stay unnoticed at school and get her 1966 Mustang fixed up in time for her 16th birthday.

Hollywood Homicide (2002) – Josh Hartnett and Harrison Ford star as detectives in this action “dramedy.” Their car of choice? A 2003 silver Saleen S281 supercharged Mustang. The most memorable thing in the movie has wheels.

Cinderella Story (2004) – Tween angst: an unpopular girl, played by Hillary Duff, is exploited by her wicked stepmother. She loses her cell phone instead of a glass slipper at the ball, but she gains a prince. Her car of choice: a sky blue 1965 Mustang convertible. Get it? It's like Cinderella!

I Am Legend (2007) – Years after a plague kills most of humanity and transforms the rest into monsters, the sole survivor in New York City, played by Will Smith, struggles valiantly to find a cure. Smith’s co-star in the movie? A red and white 2007 Shelby Mustang. This one grossed over $256 million at the box office, but still no Academy gold for the Fresh Prince.

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