Film & TV

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As I mentioned in my original post about the movie ‘5000km to Glory’ there is a little bit of movie merchandising related to the film, even though it was largely forgotten until it’s recent release on DVD and Bluray.  I have seen the movie soundtrack album (on vinyl naturally!) for sale on Yahoo! Japan Auction in the past and other items such as sets of postcards but the best thing I have ever come across related to it is this lovely 1/24 scale model kit made by Eidai. To be honest, when I first found this kit, I didn’t initially realise it was related to the film. Only a little later when I noticed the style of the ‘5000’ logo on the box did it dawn on me what it was! The 510 modeled in the kit is actually that of a 1968 model which makes it a little unusual as most 510 model kits are 1969 onward versions with the larger tail light and restyled grille.

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Finally, I get to watch 5000km to Glory! I only ordered this from Japan four days ago and it’s here in the UK already… amazing! Hopefully my complete lack of Japanese language skills won’t be a problem watching this…

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UPDATE! I’ve just finished watching it and I can honestly say it’s as good as any motor racing film I have seen. No really… it’s genuinely a really great filmI The cinematography is fantastic, the racing scenes are superbly shot and seamlessly blended with footage from the real events. The cast are good and best of all, language isn’t as big an issue as I expected as there’s actually more French and English spoken in the film than Japanese! I’ll do a full write up on the film with an outline of the plot etc soon but for now, I say go get yourself a copy!

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safari5000tnA relatively unheard of title, ‘5000km to Glory‘ or ‘Safari 5000’ as it was alternatively titled, was a movie depicting the fictional events surrounding a Japanese team entered into the East African Safari rally with the legendary Datsun 1600-SSS, a car that would go on to win the event for real in 1970. The film was directed by Koreyoshi Kurahara and starred Yûjirô Ishihara, Tatsuya Nakadai and Toshirô Mifune in the tile roles.
Despite ‘5000km to Glory’ being Japan’s highest grossing film of 1969, it remained almost impossible to see for decades after it’s release as it was apparently never released onto VHS (although I have seen a Betamax copy for sale once… for 250 euros!). But finally, after it being screened for the first time in years on Japan’s NHK BS-hi TV channel in 2012, it would seem that it was made available on DVD and Blu-ray in Japan last year. Sure, this means it’s Japanese market and therefor still hard to get hold of and lacking subtitles but it’s a start!
I first learned of this film whilst in Norway about 14 years ago, where the film was screened at it’s release back in 1969. Apparently, the National Film Archive in Oslo still has a rare copy of it. Internet research at that time revealed little and even in the years since, whilst I have found plenty of movie posters and stills from the film, any actual footage has eluded always me. Until now…

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Shaker Run is, in my opinion, a classic of 1980’s Kiwi cinema. The movies stars Cliff Robertson as Judd Pierson, an ex race driver turned stuntman who runs a travelling one-man stunt show. Broke and down on their luck, Judd along with sidekick Casey Lee (Leif Garrett) get the chance to make a fast buck by driving Dr Christine Rubin (Lisa Harrow) to a secret rendezvous in Judd’s Trans Am stunt car called Shaker. Unknown to Judd and Casey, Dr Rubin is secretly attempting to smuggle a deadly virus out of the country and into the hands of the CIA and her superiors will go to any lengths to stop her and recover the virus.

No only does Shaker Run provide plenty of crash and stunt mayhem, it also gives a great snapshot of mid 80’s New Zealand scenery and traffic. The film isn’t really to be taken seriously but for any car movie fan it great fun, it is well worth a look. Luckily for us, it’s available in it’s entirety on YouTube! There’s a short add at the start but after that it’s and hour and a half of classic, car chase movie heaven. Check it out HERE!

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Technically minded British TV viewers were provided a rare treat back in 1988 in the form of the wonderful series created by Tim Hunkin, “The Secret Life of Machines”. The first series delved into the theory and working of a variety of everyday household appliances but car nuts had to wait until series two, shown in 1991, when they were treated to not only a program on the car itself but another on the internal combustion engine. Tim Hunkin, aided by Rex Garrod explain through a series of brilliant home made experiments and hand drawn cartoons the inner workings of the motor car, in a manner which is not only understandable by the novice but is equally entertaining for the hands on enthusiast.

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Strangely the 710 Violet is not a popular car, nor it seems, has it ever been. Introduced in 1973, it was intended to replace the outgoing 510 in the line-up. The 610 introduced in 1970, which is technically the next model on from the 510 as part of the Bluebird series, was considerably larger and the 510 remained on sale beside it until 1973. The 710 was similar in size to the 510 and the SSS variants carried the same independent rear suspension. Alas, the two biggest markets for the 510, Australia and the USA, never got the 710 in SSS form which no doubt is one of the factors in the cars negligible popularity today. In fact Australia they never got any 710’s at all so it’s all the more strange then that one of it’s greatest rally victories should come in the Australian Southern Cross rally in 1977. Nissan certainly made good use of this success in their advertising campaign from 1977 with this advert for the Violet SSS hardtop…

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I’ve been trying to find this film for some time but finally I have managed to lay my hands on a copy thanks (yet again) to eBay. This Japanese film was originally titled “Mach 78” and was filmed on the US west coast (around Long Beach) in 1978. The utterly feeble plot tells the tale of a group of Japanese stuntmen challenging a bunch of American stuntmen to increasingly crazy car stunts. Forget the plot though. Forget the acting too (which is really quite awful!) because this film has something special to offer for the Datsun nut. Oh yes, while there’s lots of 60’s and 70’s American machinery to be seen, there’s plenty of hair raising stunts featuring Datsuns! As an added bonus for fans of hammy acting and pointless plots… it’s dubbed into English! If you like your stunts 1970’s style then you’re in for a treat as this film is pretty much packed with them from end to end, culminating in a pretty spectacular use for a Porsche 911. Here’s a clip to give you a brief taster of what’s in store…

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