Cars appear in most movies, but movies about cars often don't do well. Tucker: The Man and His Dream, for instance, Francis Ford Coppola's well-reviewed 1988 biography of Preston Tucker and his effort to start a car company, flopped at the box office.
Nonetheless, Time Inc Studios is pressing on with its plans for a movie on the "later life" of former General Motors executive and car company founder John DeLorean, father of the 1964 Pontiac GTO as well as the brushed stainless-steel sports car with gull-wing doors that bears his name.
DeLorean's life certainly has movie qualities to it. The executive, who posed shirtless and lifting weights for Fortune magazine in his 40s, got the UK government to subsidize his factory in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to the tune of tens of millions of pounds.
When the DeLorean Motor Company ran into financial troubles, he was arrested for drug trafficking by the FBI. Though he was ultimately acquitted on the grounds of entrapment, his reputation was ruined and the company collapsed into bankruptcy.
The producers of the film have secured rights from DeLorean's son Zachary, who is also the executor of his estate, as well as DeLorean's unpublished memoirs, various magazine articles about him, and the book Grand Delusions by author Hillel Levin.
The younger DeLorean has put his seal of approval on this effort, saying, "There are other producers out there trying to make a movie about my father but this is the only one I’m standing behind, and the only one the DeLorean estate is allowing.”
Perhaps the movie will tweak the car's image a bit, focusing on its safety features. Today, of course, the DeLorean DMC-12 is irretrievably linked in the public eye to Christopher Lloyd's
John Lithgow's mad scientist in the Back to the Future film series.
DeLorean's dream of founding the first successful US car company in half a century, says the film's director Alex Holmes with a fair degree of hyperbole, "brought him head-to-head with both the British and American establishment and they destroyed him."
Holmes calls the story "a crime thriller with such a great tragic hero at its heart.” Hmmmmm. Yes, well, perhaps. Or perhaps not.
DeLorean - rear