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John Chard
Fantasmagorical! Based on the novel written by James Bond creator Ian Flemming, this delightful fantasy charts the journey into the mysteriously childless world of Vulgaria by Caractacus Potts, his two children, Truly Scrumptious and super car Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I think the main thing that makes this film work so well is that it has a little of everything to make a successful family movie. Catchy tunes at every turn, a fairy tale kingdom awash with colour, bonkers technology, and a little slice of wickedness involving class distinction. Split very much into two halves, Chitty at its core is really about forming a complete family. We are introduced to Caracatus (Dick Van Dyke) who is a single father, who is doing his best to raise his two children with moral fortitude. It's through the children's love of an old rusty car that Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is born, and after pretty lady Truly Scrumptious (a gorgeous Sally Ann Howes) comes into their lives, all four of them enter the second half of the movie after having firmly capturing the audience's attention with a firming promise of a family in waiting. The second half of the picture then whisks us far away into fantasy territory. Vulagaria is ruled by crackers toy obsessive Baron Bomburst (Gert Fröbe in wonderful bacon sandwich mode), he has banned children, and naturally he has his sights set firmly on the magnificence that is Chitty Chitty. Bomburst sends out his child snatcher to nab Caracatus' kids in the hope of bargaining for the special car. The child snatcher played by Robert Helpman is as iconic as he is terrifying, wonky hat and pointy nose he lures children in with promises of sweets and treacle tarts, he thus became the invader of many a childs poor nightmares for sure. But this is a family film after all, and sure enough this splendid ride speeds to a joyous finale that is cloaked in colour and feel good eccentricity, yep, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang still works on repeat viewings. 8/10

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