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The musical number 'Toy dance' involved having Dick van Dyke on a two metre long piece of string and having puppet artists pull him around.
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Lionel Jeffries played Dick Van Dyke's father, despite the fact that Dick Van Dyke is actually six months older than Jeffries.
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Dick Van Dyke, who was smoking up to 40 cigarettes a day, found the dance numbers very demanding.
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The current owner of the Chitty car is director Peter Jackson. He could be seen near the WETA Workshop in New Zealand driving cast members of The Hobbit films around in the car while playing the main theme song through a sound system.
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With a running time of about two hours and 20 minutes, it's one of the longest children's films in history, certainly for its time. It wouldn't be until the next millennium, with the Harry Potter films, that films for children of such length would be made again.
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Baron Bomburst's castle is Neuschwanstein, built between 1869 and 1886 for the Bavarian King Ludwig II, "The Mad King of Bavaria". This castle is also famously known as the model for both the Sleeping Beauty (1959) Castle at Disneyland, which was the symbol of the Disney television program The Magical World of Disney (1954), and the Walt Disney Pictures studio logo.
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The role of Truly Scrumptious was originally offered to Julie Andrews, but she declined. Sally Ann Howes had replaced Julie Andrews in the Broadway company of "My Fair Lady" when Andrews went to London in the musical, so Howes was offered the role.
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In an interview with Rosie O'Donnell, Sally Ann Howes reported that despite the difficulty of the choreography of the song "Doll on a Music Box", she was able to film it in one take.
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According to Dick Van Dyke, director Ken Hughes hated children and Van Dyke would often have to tell him to stop cursing in front of the child actors.
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Phil Collins claims he was one of the children storming the castle at the end of the film but was edited out because of a rather large and unsightly bandage on his head that was covering a cyst.
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Benny Hill was first brought onto the project to rewrite some scenes at the request of Dick Van Dyke.
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The film has a different story than the original book, by James Bond creator Ian Fleming. The screenplay was a creation of Roald Dahl, who had recently written the screenplay for You Only Live Twice (1967), the first Bond film to deviate severely from the original Fleming book. Fleming's "Chitty" story was about the Potts family and their flying motorcar rescuing a French candy maker and his family from ordinary gangsters led by Joe the Monster. The story of "Vulgaria" is entirely a Dahl creation, full of his distinctive stock characters and situations. Dahl also came up with the character name Truly Scrumptious, which is possibly a tribute to Fleming's female characters with names like Honey Ryder, Pussy Galore, and Kissy Suzuki.
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Dick Van Dyke originally turned the part down but was repeatedly offered the part with more money added in each offer. When the offer reached seven figures plus a percentage of the profits, he accepted the role.
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Seven different Chitties were built: a worn-out one, a restored one, one for the flying scenes, one for the water scenes, and three partial models for various other scenes.
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Dick Van Dyke had appeared in two Walt Disney movies prior to this. In a press release he quipped, "This will out-Disney Disney."
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Whilst filming one of the scenes where the Child Catcher rides his horse and carriage out of the village, the Cage/Carriage uptilted with Robert Helpmann on board. Dick Van Dyke recalls Helpmann being able to swing out of the carriage and literally skip across the crashing vehicle. Van Dyke claims Helpmann did this with incredible grace and much like a dancer - which was Helpmann's original claim to fame.
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In his 2011 autobiography "Dick Van Dyke: My Lucky Life In and Out Of Show Business", Dick Van Dyke revealed that he did not get along with producer Albert R. Broccoli or director Ken Hughes during filming.
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In his book, "Keep Moving", Dick Van Dyke confessed that after filming completed, he consulted a plastic surgeon in response to the director and makeup artist's jokes about the size of his nose. The doctor reportedly told Van Dyke that he was too established to change the way he looked and sent him home.
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According to several people, including Dick Van Dyke, Ken Hughes was a talented 'action' director, but he wasn't as good at directing people, especially children. Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, and members of the crew had to entertain the children and guide them through their performances. Ken Hughes later admitted he didn't enjoy making this film.
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This is the only non-James Bond film produced by Albert R. Broccoli after the Bond series began. The movie is based on a novel written by Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond.
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Robert Helpmann (the Child Catcher) took his top set of false teeth out to aid his gaunt pinched face. It also helped produce his creepy voice, as he 'hisses' whenever he speaks.
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Heather Ripley recalled that she did not realize until much later that Dick Van Dyke was an alcoholic when the film was made.
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During down times on the set, Benny Hill and Dick Van Dyke would have lengthy conversations about their favorite actors, Charles Chaplin, Stan Laurel, and Buster Keaton. Van Dyke would later recall in an interview, "We both thought that we were born in the wrong era."
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James Robertson Justice had a stroke shortly after filming ended and had to give up acting.
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The Child Catcher has often been named as one of the scariest characters ever to be brought on screen. Not only did it make it into Empire magazine, but also onto Channel 4's 100 Scariest Movie Moments. The Child Catcher was the inspiration for Marilyn Manson's "Smells Like Children" EP. The title and cover art, as well as Manson's outfit and appearance during the album, reference the Robert Helpmann character.
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As the car is being driven around the English countryside, it passes vineyards. Those scenes were filmed in France for the sunshine.
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While not the huge financial failure it is often called, the film received generally negative reviews, and lost money at the box office.
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The name "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" was inspired by a series of actual race cars named "Chitty Bang Bang" - I, II, etc - in the early 1920s, notable for their use of enormous aircraft engines.
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Dick Van Dyke's character was named for Caractacus, the last independent ruler of England before the Roman conquest of southern England.
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Many parallels cam be drawn between Vulgaria's situation and WWII resistance against the Nazis. The Childcatcher's tactics resemble those used by Nazi scientist Josef Mengele. Mengle is noted for torture and human experimentation, notably with children, offering them candy to gain their trust.
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In his book "Keep Moving", Dick Van Dyke mentioned during the "Toot Sweets" segment, at 40 years old, he never bothered to warm up before a dance number. During filming, he felt something pop in his leg. He thought he'd merely pulled a muscle, but soon after he couldn't walk without limping. He went to a doctor, who told him his whole body was full of arthritis, and within 5 years he wouldn't be able to get around at all without a cane or a wheelchair. Van Dyke responded to this prognosis by jumping up and dancing, which astounded the doctor. Almost 50 years later, in his brief role as Mr. Dawes, Jr. in Mary Poppins Returns (2018), 92-year-Van Dyke danced without any assistance.
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The original book was written by Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond. Three actors from James Bond films appear in this movie: Gert Fröbe, Desmond Llewelyn, and Anna Quayle. Albert R. Broccoli produced the franchise from 1962-1989.
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The film's main song was used as a wake up call for Commander Pamela Ann Melroy and the Space Shuttle Discovery crew on November 7, 2007.
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The production used six cars, one of which was fully functional and roadworthy. In 1975, it sold at auction for $37,000, about $181,869.56 in 2019 dollars. In a 2011 episode of Hollywood Treasure (2010), Dick Van Dyke got to sit in the "hero" car for the first time in over 40 years, and noted that he could have purchased it for $30,000 after the movie wrapped. The car was later offered on eBay for $1,000,000. Later in the episode, the car auction was expanded to bidders at the auction house, but failed to receive any bids. Sfter auction negotiations, the car was sold to Peter Jackson for a reported $805,000.
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The colors of the floating Chitty - purple, green, and white - were the colors of the women's suffrage movement of that time.
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The license number for Truly's car, CUB 1, was the car number for producer Albert R. Broccoli, who was known as Cubby.
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The name Toot Sweet is a play on "tout de suite", a French expression meaning "right away" or "quickly".
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On Kevin Pollak's Chat Show (2009), Dick Van Dyke said he was called into Albert R. Broccoli's office one day and offered the role of James Bond. He declined, jokingly asking Broccoli if he'd heard Van Dyke's british accent. Broccoli replied "Oh yeah, that's right" and quickly rescinded the offer.
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Chitty's license plate is "GENII" which can be read as "Genie", hinting that the car is magic.
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The original Broadway production of the stage musical "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" opened at the Hilton Theater in New York on April 28, 2005 and ran for 285 performances.
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When the production filmed in the German town of Rothenburg on the Tauber, some locals were used. Senior citizens were cast as the townspeople of Vulgaria, while the local university's riding teams played the Vulgarian soldiers.
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The sound of the name Caractacus Potts is meant to resemble "crackpot," a common expression for a fool, reflecting how most of Mr. Potts' neighbours view him.
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The scenes in and around Baron Bomburst's castle in Vulgaria were shot on location at King Ludwig II's Castle Neuschwanstein, located at the foot of the Alps on the German-Austrian border.
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British censor John Trevelyan in an interview with Box-office magazine about censorship in 1969 mentioned that he was forced to make 2 small cuts when this was submitted for classification.
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Heather Ripley refused to talk about the film for many years because her parents divorced during filming
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When the balloon arrives in Vulgaria, Grandpa Pott's shack is on the ground. A set of steps is wheeled up to the gondola so the Admiral and crew can disembark. On the side of the steps is printed "VULG-AIR."
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Film producer Albert R. Broccoli, best known for producing the James Bond film franchise from 1962 to 1989, wanted to replicate similar success that Mary Poppins (1964) had enjoyed in its initial theatrical release and sought out to bring Ian Fleming's novel "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" to the screen. Desperately wanting to emulate Mary Poppins in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) in both tone and style, Broccoli hired the same musical talents of Mary Poppins to work on the film: songwriters Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, musical adapter/arranger/conductor Irwin Kostal, and choreographers Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood. He even went far to try to re-team Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews for the film, but for reasons unknown, Andrews turned down the offer. The casting decision of Sally Ann Howes may be viewed by some as a pale imitation of Julie Andrews, as the producer wanted the role and characterization of Truly Scrumptious to be tailor-made for Andrews.
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Bomburst's medals and ribbons are also the colors of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang floating device.
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When the soldiers and child catcher first enter the toy maker's home searching for the children, the dress that Truly wears while doing the toy box scene is visible in the corner of the room. The 'rag doll' outfit that Caractacus wears during the same scene is also shown on the right-hand side.
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In an interview in October 1967 Dick Van Dyke revealed he only accepted the lead role on the condition that he would not have to attempt a British accent.
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The road that leads right by the windmill of Caractacus Potts, is named Oxford Road. The windmill sits in the hills a few miles south of the University town of Oxford, England, UK.
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Director Ken Hughes reportedly hated the finished film.
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Peter Picton aka Pierre the Clown was one of the drivers during the filming. He bought the car when that ended and owned it for 40 years. He used it as a prop in his act. He died in November 2016 in England .
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One of the cars is on display at The National Motor Museum, Beaulieu near Southampton, UK.
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Voted number 14 in Channel 4's (UK) "Greatest Family Films".
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Bob Monkhouse had a part in the film but it was cut out.
This was Roald Dahl's second adaptation of an Ian Fleming work - he had previously adapted You Only Live Twice (1967).
The eponymous car was 17 feet long and weighed over 2 tons.
Dick Van Dyke became available for the lead when he turned down the role of Fagin in Oliver! (1968).
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Filming was delayed for seven days when Dick Van Dyke injured his leg.
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The 10th most popular film at the US box office in 1969. Nevertheless it did not recoup its initial cost.
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The original Ian Fleming novel is set in present times, not 1910 as depicted in the film.
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Even though it is never specified where Baron Bomburst's castle is, it is clearly inside Germanic Europe, because the locals wear Tracht, the official National Dress of Austria, and they are speaking German as their native language. The latter is very noticeable when the children are running through the streets and one of the men says "Kinder." Also, the real-life Bavaria-based Neuschwanstein Castle ("Mad Ludwig's castle") is the filming-location of Baron Bomburst's stronghold; the name "Vulgaria" is an obvious parody on the German province.
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The first spy, Mr. Rude & Bombastic, is nicknamed "X", and Baron Bomburst mistakenly addresses him as "Lex" over the staticky radio. The actor's real name is "Alex".
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The song "Me Ol' Bamboo" provides the tune for the parody musical number "A Bag of Weed" in Family Guy Family Guy: 420 (2009).
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The scrap metal dealer agrees to buy the car at the start of the movie for 'thirty bob'. A bob is slang for a shilling, part of the pre-decimal currency system used in the UK, (pounds, shillings and pence (pennies)). Thirty shillings would have been equal to 1.5 pounds sterling, which is equivalent to about £150 or $180 in 2018 (the 50th anniversary of the movie's release).
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Two of the most important events in the movie, the crash of Race-car #3 and Truly Scrumptious running off the road and meeting Jeremy and Jemima, involve a car swerving to avoid children in the road.
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There was some complaint over the anti-German stereotypes.
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Before the man at the carnival gets his disastrous haircut from Potts, he jokes to his wife when she says he needs a haircut "That's where my strength is." He could be referencing the biblical figure of Samson, whose incredible strength came from his long hair.
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Anne Rogers was originally earmarked for the role of Truly Scrumptious.
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An interesting coincidence exists with regards to Jemima's name and the overall story-theme of confections --- "Aunt Jemima" is the name of a popular line of food items, including sweet syrup.
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According to Dick Van Dyke, the Vulgarian adventure was written to be "real," with the "fantasy narrative" aspect being a last minute addition to the script.
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It could be said that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's magical powers come from love, because in the fairy tale Caractacus tells the children, Chitty gains his magical powers only when Jeremy and Jemima are with him in the car; thus why Baron Bomburst, Grandpa, and the Baroness couldn't get Chitty to fly for them. Also why, back in the real world, Chitty begins to fly (without his wings) when Caractacus and Truly have decided to stay together and get married. Between the love of each other, and the Children's and Caractacus' imaginations, that was where Chitty's true powers came from.
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