The Gumball Rally – 1976
Leon Capetanos – screenplay
Charles Bail – story
Review by John Rouse Merriott Chard
The cars are the stars, and it’s all just for glory……and a gumball machine
The Gumball Rally is directed and written by Charles Bail. It stars Michael Sarrazin, Norman Burton, Raúl Juliá, Tim McIntire and Gary Busey. Music is by Dominic Frontiere and cinematography by Richard C. Glouner. Plot sees an assortment of car enthusiasts embark on a no holds barred coast-to-coast race from New York to California……with irate LAPD Lieutenant Roscoe and the force out to apprehend them.
Upon its release The Gumball Rally would have seemed fresh and exciting, leading off a sub-genre of car race films based on the exploits of auto eccentrics racing coast-to-coast, its impact has been diluted by those that followed it. However, as sure as it isn’t as much fun as the most popular of them all, The Cannonball Run, it certainly has the better stunts, better location work and a plethora of better cars. Clearly helmed with love and affection by Charles Bail, film isn’t about story (vis-à-vis Cannonball Run), it’s an ode to speedsters and excitement, to freedom and camaraderie, all splendidly package by Bail and his team. A ream of good character actors file in for the roles, with Julia and McIntire particularly standing out, while Bail uses his camera with skill for aerials, close ups and tracking shots to put the viewer right into the heart of the action. The comedy is well placed within the heart of the drama, and crucially those sequences are funny.
An enjoyable speedy romp that never lets its foot off the pedal, The Gumball Rally is essential viewing for car fans and fans of 70s care free abandon. 7.5/10