The 1970’s was definitely the era of the car chase movie. Think about it for a moment; we had Smokey and the Bandit, The French Connection, the original Gone in 60 Seconds, and countless others. Back in those days, Hollywood was determined to give its action film fans what they wanted, and they didn’t disappoint!
But the movie that many fans of the classic car chase films often overlook is a film called The Seven Ups, which was a cop movie emulated after 1968’s Bullitt. Although it was set in 1973 New York City, it’s quite apparent that some of the action sequences were inspired by the now classic flick that was set in San Francisco just five years earlier.
For example, the main character played by Roy Scheider was a cop chasing two bad guys in a ’73 Pontiac Grand Ville while piloting his ’73 Pontiac Ventura Sprint throughout the NYC landscape.
The main reason for the similarities is primarily due to the fact that the producer and director for the film, The Seven Ups, was none other than Phillip D’Antoni, the same man who helped bring you Bullitt and The French Connection in the first place.
The term “The Seven Ups” comes not from the tasty beverage, but is in fact a reference to the story of the film itself. It’s a team of specialized NYC police officers that have been known to apprehend members of the criminal class for crimes that would entail a conviction of seven or more years in prison, hence the term, The Seven Ups. Pretty clever, eh?
During filming, it is said that Scheider did some of his own driving, but left the more talented stuff to the pros, namely Hollywood stuntman, Jerry Summers.
Wheeling the boat-like Grand Ville through the Big Apple was Bill Hickman (who also had a small role in the film) and he was able to keep what sounded like a somewhat modified Ventura in his rear view throughout the entire chase. Whether either of these cars was actually modified for the film is somewhat of a mystery, and we’re not certain ourselves that particularly the Ventura’s engine sounds were dubbed in or were the real thing.
Now on paper, the combination of two of the most boring cars Pontiac had ever produced chasing each other around NYC doesn’t sound like much entertainment to those that haven’t seen the film, but trust us, these guys pulled it off in spades! Check out the attached video to view the chase in its entirety, and keep an eye out for some of the interesting cars in the background, like the ’64 and ’69 Chevelles, a ’72 Torino, a ’63 Impala and a few others. Enjoy!