With some of the catchiest tunes, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was a classic movie of our childhood. From “Doll On a Music Box”, to “Toot Sweets” this movie deserved more recognition than it got.
Dick Van Dyke was in his prime, riding on the high from Mary Poppins a few years previous, but Chitty Chitty Bang Bang didn’t get the attention the Disney hit got.
Released in 1968, we still continued to watch this movie into the 90s, because of its hilarity and light-hearted nature.
Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about this movie:
1. The book was written by the James Bond author
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the only children’s book written by James Bond author Ian Fleming.
2. It was a health scare that caused him to write the book
Fleming used to tell his son, Casper, a bedtime story every night about a wondrous car. While he was recovering from his second heart attack, Fleming was encouraged by a friend to write this bedtime story into a book.
3. Fleming died before the book was published
After his third and final heart attack two months before the book’s publication, Fleming passed away.
4. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was based on real cars
Fleming had driven a Standard Tourer when he lived in Switzerland in the late 1920s, as well as a chain-driven customized Mercedes with a 23-liter 6-cyclinder Mayback aero-engine. These two cars were the inspiration behind Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
5. The car earned its name
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was named after the noise it made.
6. Six cars were made
There were six cars that were made for the film, including a fully functioning road-worthy car with UK registration of GEN 11. It is now owned by the film director Peter Jackson, who was responsible for The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
7. The musical number “Toot Sweets” was a big deal
It took three weeks to film and involved 38 dancers, 40 singers, 85 musicians and 100 dogs.
8. It’s the longest-running children’s movie
With an approximate run time of two hours and 20 minutes, it was one of the longest running children’s movies in history. It wasn’t until the Harry Potter films were released that the record was beat.
9. The child-catcher made his character creepier
Robert Helpmann, who played the child-catcher, took out his top set of false teeth to help with his gaunt pinched face. It also helped him to produce his creepy voice, that hisses when he speaks.
The character would later inspire Marilyn Manson’s “Smells Like Children” EP.
10. Dick Van Dyke revealed he didn’t like the movie
Playing the male lead doesn’t mean that you’re on board with the final product.
He said, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was a movie that I repeatedly turned down.”
After the success of Mary Poppins, producers wanted to reunite Julie Andrews and Van Dyke for another show.
“I can’t speak for Julie’s reasons, but both of us turned him down. I thought the script had too many holes and unanswered questions. However, each time I said no, Cubby came back with more money. I’m talking serious money – more than seven figures, which in those days was mind-boggling, plus a percentage of the back end, which I never counted on. So I finally agreed,” he admitted.
He had one stipulation though, he wanted to ditch the English accent, which he struggled with in Mary Poppins. They agreed, and the character was transformed into an American inventor.
At the end of the day, he still wasn’t happy with the movie, “I know the film is beloved by many but for me it lacked the magic of Mary Poppins, which its producer had hoped to emulate.”
What did you think of the movie? Did you watch it a lot as a kid too?