Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo is a 1977 American comedy adventure film and the third in a series of films made by Walt Disney Productions starring Herbie – the white 1963 Volkswagen racing Beetle with a mind of its own.
Template:Plot The film stars Dean Jones as returning champion race car driver Jim Douglas, joined by his somewhat cynical and eccentric riding mechanic Wheely Applegate (Don Knotts). Together with Herbie, the "Love Bug", a 1963 Volkswagen Beetle, they are participating in the fictional Trans-France Race, from Paris, France, to Monte Carlo, Monaco. According to dialogue, they hope to stage a racing comeback in the event.
For the Trans-France Race, Douglas and Herbie have three major opponents:
- Bruno von Stickle (Eric Braeden): He is a dark-haired, moustached German driver with experience in the "European Racing Circuit". His car was a powerful Porsche 917 clone painted in the colors of the German national flag, and bearing the number 17. In fact, as referred in the movie, the kit car he drives is a Laser 917 with numerous components including the engine and chassis from the Beetle. Von Stickle is deemed to be a formidable contender prior to and during the race.
- Claude Gilbert (Mike Kulcsar): Claude is a blond-haired—and, like von Stickle, moustached—French driver of unknown discipline, although it would seem likely that he was also a regular on the European Racing circuit. Gilbert, known for wearing a full-faced crash helmet, was the driver of an equally power-hungry De Tomaso Pantera. Gilbert's car is black with white stripes and a number 66 on the hood and the sides. His dominance in the race seemed similar to that of von Stickle, until he crashed in the later stages.
- Diane Darcy (Julie Sommars): Diane Darcy is a very beautiful, if somewhat icy and feminist-minded, young American woman with strawberry blonde hair, and is the only female driver in the Trans-France Race. She initially hates Jim for apparently his, but what was actually Herbie's, knee-jerk behavior that ruined her chances of succeeding during the first qualifying rounds. This was because of Herbie sighting and falling in love at first sight with her race car. Diane's car is a powder-blue 1976 Lancia Scorpion with yellow and white stripes, as well as a fancy dark blue or black numeral 7. As being a car with whom Herbie falls in love during the film (much as Jim seems to be attracted to Diane herself), Herbie's infatuation with Diane's Lancia results in his compromising his full original plan of winning the Trans-France Race, and turning against that same will of his partners, Jim and Wheely. However, the strong-willed Diane does not appear to believe in any cars that can be alive and have a mind of their own; thinking this was merely an excuse for what she believed as an act of possible misogyny or sexism from Jim. To this extent, she bluntly but sarcastically tells Jim that she would like nothing more than to see him and his car completely vanish. Along with being the lone female driver in the race, she is ostensibly a rookie, although her level of racing experience is never discussed in the movie. Relatively little was seen of Diane's performance in the Trans-France Race itself, although she was never passed over by the Herbie team and was in the lead when she had to leave the race (she was not even seen in the film for 18 minutes beforehand).
Diane and her Lancia unfortunately crash into a lake towards the end of the race, and with victory in sight. But Herbie and Jim manage to save both car and woman from drowning. Because of this, she soon changes her attitude toward Jim after he saves her life and she witnesses Herbie towing her Lancia out of the lake. All three watch as Herbie crawls next to the Lancia and the two cars hold doors like holding hands. When Herbie seems to have trouble restarting because of being determined to stay with the Lancia, Diane is now fully convinced that cars can have minds of their own because she now knows her own car is alive as well. She encourages the little car not to relent in the quest for victory in the Trans-France Race (with the added agreement of the Lancia's horn), and bids Jim good luck with a light kiss on one cheek.
With Diane now out of the race (followed shortly thereafter by Claude Gilbert in the aforementioned crash), Jim pursues Von Stickle through the streets of Monte Carlo, combatants in a thrilling duel for the win. In the end, though, Bruno von Stickle is overtaken by the little car in the famous tunnel of the Formula One race track, Herbie outracing him by outsmarting him through driving upside down on the tunnel roof. Jim drives Herbie to victory for (also according to dialogue) the 20th time in their careers.
As the film progresses, two thieves, Max (Bernard Fox) and Quincey (Roy Kinnear), steal the famous Étoile de Joie (French for "Star of Joy") diamond and cleverly hide it in Herbie's fuel tank (Herbie was fitted with an external fuel filler cap for this film - a 1963 Beetle's cap actually being inside the front luggage compartment) in order to avoid being captured by a swarm of searching policemen. But little did they know that they picked the wrong car to hide it in, because of one car that was alive and had a mind of its own. That causes them to blow every chance they get in getting back the diamond they hid in him. Because of this, and on a count of an attempt where they at one point tried to threaten Jim and Wheely at gunpoint to relinquish the car to them, an encounter from which Herbie managed to escape, and thanks to a misunderstood conclusion thereafter that Diane would have tried to mastermind the whole event. Subsequently, Herbie is placed under the protection of the French police. It is also revealed not too far in that Inspector Bouchet (Jacques Marin), also known as "Double X" especially as a code name to the thieves, is the mastermind behind the museum robbery, though the fact of his scheme is revealed near the end of the movie. It is the eager, and somewhat knee-jerk and unpunctual young detective Fontenoy (Xavier Saint-Macary), of whom the Inspector is the superior officer, who unravels the mystery of L'Étoile de Joie, and has Bouchet clapped in handcuffs. All the way through the plot, Inspector Bouchet appears to have an annoyance and sour attitude towards Detective Fontenoy. The reasons are never plain, but some of them could be due to things that the Inspector tells the Head Official of Monaco about the detective when he tries to persuade him to cancel out a diamond search that the detective ordered for.
In the end, Jim and Diane begin to fall in love, as do Wheely and the Monte Carlo trophy girl (Katia Tchenko); even breaking a pact they made in the beginning. Most of all, Herbie and Giselle (Diane's Lancia) fall in love again as well.
* Not credited on-screen.
Mann's Chinese Theatre
On July 11, 1977, Herbie joined other immortals of the silver screen when he placed his wheel-prints in cement in the forecourt of Mann's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, California; the ceremony was also attended by the film's stars Dean Jones, Don Knotts and Julie Sommars, as well as several hundred guests and tourists. Mayor of Los Angeles Tom Bradley sent a proclamation officially declaring the day, July 11, as "Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo Day" and a floral wreath was presented to Herbie by Miss Monte Carlo. The ceremony was preceded by a parade on Hollywood Boulevard featuring a traditional Chinese band, firecrackers, 25 Lancia sports cars, clowns, cheerleaders and the Goodyear Blimp. Afterwards, a special invitational screening of Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo was held inside the Chinese Theatre, which was celebrating its 50th anniversary that year.
Two different paperback novelizations of the screenplay were published in June 1977 as a promotional tie-in: the US version was written by Vic Crume and published by Scholastic Paperbacks and the UK version was written by John Harvey and published by New English Library.
Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo was released on VHS in November 1982 and re-released on December 3, 1985; on January 5, 1992; on October 28, 1994, and on September 16, 1997. It was first released on DVD in Region 1 on May 4, 2004 and was re-released as a 2-DVD double feature set along with Herbie Rides Again on April 26, 2009.
On June 30, 2015, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo was released on Blu-ray as a Disney Movie Club exclusive title.
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- "Herbie at Mann's Chinese Theatre" - The Desert News, retrieved June 23, 2015.
- "Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo" by Vic Crume (Scholastic Paperbacks, 1977), retrieved June 24, 2015.
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