Alas, Beaker, we hardly knew ye.
[17:13] Hring Swansong: "Little Suzy from Boston Mass
[17:13] Hring Swansong: "Stood in the ocean up to her knees."
[17:13] Hring Swansong: It don't rhyme, now, but it will when the tide rises.
There are times I positively adore the Poetry Slams in Winterfell at der Hut.
How to float awkward questions at that job interview.
In the list of steampunk films, and steampunk-influenced movies--why does no one bring up Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?
(The first sight of the restored car.)
Filmed in 1968, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was based on a children's book written in 1964 by none other than Ian Fleming, the writer behind nearly every Bond film ever made. It was actually based on two high-performance (for the time) racing cars nicknamed "Chitty Chitty Bang" by their designer, Count Louis Zborowski.
(Chitty Chitty Bang Bang takes flight.)
Roald Dahl, of all people, was half of the screenwriting team for the screenplay as it transited from high-spirited children's book into the musical extravaganza it became. It starred Dick Van Dyke as Caractacus Potts, mad inventor, and Sally Ann Howes as Truly Scrumptious, the daughter of the candymaker who falls for Van Dyke's eccentric ways. (The daughter, not the candymaker. That would have made an entirely different film.)
(Potts testing rocket propulsion.)
The film wasn't so greatly enjoyed by adults, but children ate it up like cream, worldwide. To the point that, for one of the first times in existing movie history (remember, this was 1968), movie tie-ins were generated--lunchboxes, Truly Scrumptious dolls, car models, dress patterns for Jemima's dress (all of which are still highly-sought-after collectibles to this day, as the film remains popular) and many other possible "Chitty Chitty" based things.
(Truly confronting Potts in his laboratory garage.)
In fact, for a while this film--though again, not being as popular with adult audiences--spawned a brief Renaissance, so to speak, for Edwardian-era fashions remade for the time, simply because Truly Scrumptious was so breathtaking in her pastel parade of costumes.
(Potts and Truly face down the owner of Scrumptious Sweets with a confectionary invention.)
The film was simple enough, if slightly bizarre--the eccentric creator (who has lost his wife through tragedy, one assumes) is raising two children (played in the movie by Heather Ripley and Adrian Hall) in a highly unconventional manner. They fall in love--as children are wont to do--with an old car, noted for winning the Gran Prix one year, but having now fallen into disrepair after an engine fire. Their father finds the funds to buy the car, and they take off to the seaside for an adventure.
(Flying to Vulgaria to rescue Grandpa, kidnapped by Baron Bomburst.)
While there are many side plots and diversions--the invasion by dogs of the Scrumptious Sweets factory being one, the introductory back-story on where Chitty Chitty comes from, and Truly Scrumptious' slightly stalker-worthy song on how to get Potts as a husband (matched only by the childrens' song to Truly exclaiming ultimate frenzied devotion after knowing her for two days), the real 'meat' of the story unfolds in the form of a tale told to the children before their nap.
(Marital bliss in Vulgaria--the Baron won't be happy until the Baroness dies.)
As the story goes--and everyone seems quite swept up in it, adults and sleepy children alike--a ship was sighted, coming for Caractacus Potts, the inventor that Vulgarian despot, Baron Bomburst, desired above all things, for he, too, wished for a flying car.
(Grandpa Potts in the Vulgarian labs with the very very old scientific team.)
How'ver, they slightly got their wires crossed, and ended up kidnapping Grandpa (played by Lionel Jeffries, which was made even more amusing by the fact that he was six months younger than Dick Van Dyke at the time) and carting him in his 'laboratory' off via zeppelin to Vulgaria--leaving the hapless family, and Truly, to chase after them using Chitty Chitty's wing propulsion system.
(Potts and Truly playing birthday party toys.)
As it turns out, the Baroness of Vulgaria is deathly afraid of children. She has ordered that all of them be declared illegal, and has even set aside funds for a Childcatcher permanently on staff, a beak-nosed, thinly vile man who is very, very good at his job (portrayed in the film by Robert Helpmann, whose carriage went out of control during filming, and nearly saw him slain before his time--thankfully, his long career of dance and acrobatics came to his aid, and he was able to leap free and land on his feet). He steals Jemima and Jeremy, and nothing for it but that Truly and Caractacus must get involved to save them, save Grandpa, and liberate all the children of Vulgaria!
(The Childcatcher caught.)
And therein follows several fun songs, the Baroness in a corset dancing through several attempts at murder by her husband, a revelation on where the children of Vulgaria live, and a surprise appearance by Benny Hill (yes, that Benny Hill) as the Toymaker to the royal house. In the end the day is saved, the Vulgarians have normal families again (one assumes), and Chitty Chitty flies off home to England. Yay?
(Chitty Chitty Bang Bang saves the day!)
So why is this relevant, you might be asking. Which is where my confusion comes in in the first place--why aren't you already convinced? The mad inventor, the trappings of Victorian times, the pulling-up-from-your-bootstraps mentality, the Rube Goldberg Breakfast device in the kitchen, the Vulgarian zeppelin--I mean, it's all there! Follow the Steampunk 101 list and really, it's almost textbook. All it lacks is something powered by steam alone, and something made from cavorite floating to the sky!
It's perfect. Hells, it even lines up to Edward Pearse's claim that there's a brighter steampunk world, to balance all the rust and shadow! Edward, this is your film! A brighter, happier steampunk vision was never recorded. Hells, even the hints of danger and child endangerment sound fun.
So why isn't this listed with so-called "traditional" steampunk fare? Go 'head, hit me with your answers, I'm curious.
(All pictures are screen captures from Netflix; all rights reserved to Netflix and to the production's copyright holders. For anyone who has a Netflix account, btw, "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" can now be seen at any time, or sent to your home on disc. How cool is that?)