The Love Bug (1968)
A race car driver (Dean Jones) is followed home by Herbie, a white VW bug with a mind of its own. It communicates by beeping the horn, headlights, windshield wipers, etc. Eventually, Dean Jones and Herbie become friends and the little car tries its best to win the big race against real racecars.
Michele Lee, Hope Lang (Ghost & Mrs. Muir), Robert Reed (The Brady Bunch), Bert Convy, Joe Flynn, Benson Fong, and of course David Tomlinson (Bedknobs & Broomsticks) as the villain. 110 minutes, color. TV-movie remake in 1997 starred Bruce Campbell, Dean Jones, Harold Gould, Clarence Williams III, and Mickey Dolenz (who starred in the Monkees movie "Head" the same year the original Love Bug came out). John Walsh's favorite baseball player was Don Drysdale #53, so that became Herbie's racecar number.
Herbie Rides Again (1974)
Ruthless tycoon Alonzo Hawk (Keenan Wynn) has his sights set on a widow (Helen Hayes) whose old fire station is in the way of his new real estate development. Herbie wants to help, and enlists all the VW Bugs in San Francisco to block Hawk's bulldozers in the big finale.
Ken Berry, Stefanie Powers, John McIntire, Huntz Hall.
88 minutes rated G
Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo (1977)
Dean Jones doesn't know it, but bad guys have hidden diamonds in Herbie's gas tank for race across Europe from Paris. And Herbie falls in love with a Lancia--would that be another species?
Julie Sommers, Don Knotts
104 minutes rated G
Herbie Goes Bananas (1980)
The 1957 VW bug is now driven by two new guys (Charlie Martin and Steven W. Burns) for a race in Rio, Brazil. The Plot includes the Syndicate, a pick-pocket and other "hilarious" obstacles, but the highlight is when Herbie turns matador in a bull-fighting ring.
Cloris Leachman, John Vernon, Harvey Korman, Richard Jaeckel, and mouth-popping Fritz Feld
100 minutes rated G, videotape is 7 minutes shorter at 93 mins
Followed by a TV-series "Herbie The Love Bug" starring Dean Jones that ran five episodes on CBS in 1982. But the hour-long sitcom couldn't compete against "That's Incredible" and "Little House On The Prairie." At the time, the long-established Disney hour was running un-hosted on CBS (1981-83), so CBS was willing to give the VW bug a try. Michael Eisner later took the Disney hour to ABC & NBC (1986-1990), where it was replaced by a Disney-produced pirate TV-series called "The 100 Lives of Black Jack Savage."
Funny family fare from Disney's live-action golden age. A new ensign (Robert Morse) is assigned to a Coast Guard cutter at one of the busiest water vacation areas in America, Newport Harbor. On his first day, he looks out at the hundreds of boats heading in all directions at once and can't believe it. His new boss (Don Ameche) just shakes his head and says, "Boatniks." While saving sinking boats and trying to prevent collisions, three jewel thieves toss a picnic basket into the water with jewels hidden in the food. So they aquire a small submarine and try to find it on the ocean floor. When they realize the Coast Guard has noticed what they're doing, they fire the only things at hand--leaving Ameche to look down at what just came through the water like a torpedo, hit his cutter with a thud, and says, "It's a salami!"
Stefanie Powers, Phil Silvers, Norman Fell, Wally Cox, Mickey Shaughnessy
104 minutes rated G
Don Ameche later co-starred in Harry & the Hendersons, about a family that accidentally runs over Bigfoot with their station wagon and takes it home. He was also in Monstervision feature Trading Places with Eddie Murphy. Robert Morse had previously starred in the big-business satire "How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying" (1967) about a window-washer who rises to CEO of a corporation so big that no one knows exactly what it does.
© Bill Laidlaw. All Rights Reserved. That's my 2½¢ worth