Regan and Carter, Hunt vs Lauda. It looks like the big screen will be stepping back to the 1970s in 2012.
Both these duos played a significant part in my life. It was Niki Lauda’s crash at the Nurburgring in 1976 that introduced me to motor racing. That a blond Brit went on to nick his world title cemented my love affair with the sport that continues to this day. The Sweeney was the first TV programme that I was allowed to stay up past the 9pm watershed to watch; my dad was a fan, fascinated by cop drama until he went to his grave. I’m always thankful he shared that with me.
Action in The Sweeney is gritty and plausible. Thaw and Waterman as Jack Regan and George Carter had a rapport that lent their off the cuff remarks credence and gave the action an authenticity that it might not have had. Even today it holds its head high as great drama. And it’s awesome watching Renault 16s being driven on their door handles.
Don’t think I have a problem with remakes. But when I saw the new Regan and Carter in a Ford Focus my heart sank. How’s George going to get out of the back of a small car? Don’t the producers realise having a driver in a Consul GT allowed Jack and George to light each others’ fags during a car chase; allowed George to sit rock solid in the back seat, even though the car was being driven like it was stolen.
Then we have Hunt vs Lauda. Someone very close to the project told me the script had been hammed up shockingly. Producers appear not to understand that the brilliant thing about the whole saga was its genuineness. Lauda really did come to with a priest giving him the last rites. Hunt really did get air hostesses into bed by saying: “Hello, I’m James Hunt. Do you?” The story doesn’t need beefing up. And Regan and Carter don’t need a flash Focus hot hatch. A Mondeo would do.
I fell into watching the original Italian Job not so long ago. Unlike many films, time has been kind to it. Remember the 2003 Mark Wahlberg Italian Job? No me neither. It’ll be the same with Hunt vs Lauda and The Sweeney if they’re not careful.