Monday, March 09, 2009

Those (im)Pervious Cars

You know how things always come in threes... Well, I've had a run on old-time car chases lately, and what I've noticed is that 30's and 40's cars seemed to provide little protection against someone shooting at you. (Warning... minor spoilers follow...)

In Invisible Stripes, Bogart gets his leg wounded by police bullets fired from behind that go right through the trunk and backseat. In Whistle Stop, George Raft gets nailed the same way -- and he's all the way up in the front seat. And in Scarface, as he moves up the gangland chain of command, one of the first things Tony Camonte does is get himself a car with bulletproof glass and a steel body which, sure enough, comes in handy during an assassination attempt on his life later. Clearly, cars provided little protection from all those flying bullets and he knew darn well to take some precautions up front.

Naturally, I dig this threat immensely. It increases the tension to know characters are hardly safe just because they made it to their car and are speeding away. In fact, Invisible Stripes and Whistle Stop caught me a bit off-guard, particularly the latter. I was not expecting anybody to get shot like that because I've been conditioned by current films to think that can't happen that way. And in both films, other characters actually have to ask the suddenly grimacing, wounded men, "you hit?" because it's not obvious what's happened; there's been no sound of shattering glass, no holes appearing in their rear view mirror panorama. And there's something a bit scary and cool about that.

So, what is up with modern cars? Are their chassis materials that much stronger? I swear the only time people get wounded in modern car chases is when they get shot through the windows. People are always ducking low beneath the windshield in movies, yelling, "Get down!" Like that's the only danger: bullets through the glass. There's probably some exceptions, but right now, I can't think of any. It seems like if you get in your modern vehicle and stay low, you're safe! (unless the shooters hit your gas tank and your car goes boom.) But those lovely old cars...? You'd better drive like a bat outta hell because you're still a hittable target.


  1. Anonymous12:44 AM

    Something to do with the old movies being more accurate, I'd guess. I've always loved the way that, in modern movies, you see people hiding behind their car's doors during shoot-outs: try that in real life and you'd quickly (and painfully) realise it doesn't work so well... :-P

  2. That is interesting...I've noticed it, but never really thought about it. :)

  3. Deb -- I just finished watching PICNIC...your man Holden was about the sexiest thing I've ever seen! :)

    What a great movie...I had seen the first fifteen minutes of it before, but finally had a chance to watch all of it.


    I hope you're well. :)

  4. Mmmmmmmm, Picnic. Grin and swoon! I like that one a lot. Glad you enjoyed it! He really is incredibly sexy in that. (How come no handsome guy ever comes to my house to do chores for me?) Only minor flaw is that they got rid of WH's chest hair instead of leaving him natural. Wish they'd left it alone! Hee.

  5. Hiya Tillane! I forgot about people hiding behind car doors. You're right that does happen a LOT, and no one ever gets hit through a door. LOL! Makes me want to write a scene where somebody gets hit like that into a novel -- only our modern audiences might cry foul! If it doesn't happen in movies, it can't happen! Sigh. :-D

  6. Anonymous5:12 PM

    Which makes me all the more determined to write that scene - even if it takes place in the Wire! :-D

  7. Which makes me all the more determined to write that scene - even if it takes place in the Wire!

    Do you know when I was watching the second of the wounded-through-vehicle movies, my first thought was you gotta use this in a novel; my second thought was you don't got a novel to put this in right now, but man, this sure fits in the Wirewalker world. Like when a certain character's getting back in his SUV after dropping my fave man off... LOL! Except we don't actually SEE what happens...

    And dude -- I love this book. When's it coming out? :-D

  8. Anonymous5:56 AM

    Uh...I think the only response I can give is "at some point. I hope." :-P

    And I have just thunk of a way to tie that scene into FPS. And I even know who's going to get hit - and how badly. *grins evilly*

  9. And I have just thunk of a way to tie that scene into FPS. And I even know who's going to get hit - and how badly. *grins evilly*

    WOO! I think. You know who it'd better not be... LOL! Anyone else... fair game! :-D

  10. Anonymous12:30 PM

    As if I would. Oh, hang on a minute... :-P