VIDEO: Why Rendezvous is the best car movie you never heard of

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Even if you are a dedicated car nut that loves movies you may not have heard of the film Rendezvous. If not, you are in for a treat, because it is indeed the best movie ever made starring a car that you never see in the film.   The brilliance of Rendezvous is that it is shot entirely point of view (POV).  When watching it, one gets to experience some of the sense of speed, excitement, and danger the driver must have felt.

There is no shortage of great car movies. As Craig Fitzgerald suggested in the video “7 Things you Probably Didn’t Know About Bullitt Bullitt gets due credit as a great car movie.  Actually, it is a decent movie with one long awesome chase scene.  One thing I like about Bullitt is that it is filmed on streets many of us have walked in San Francisco.  Rendezvous is similar in that it is filmed in the heart of Paris on city streets even those who have never visited the city will recognize.


Other great car movies include Grand Prix, which is thought by some to also be the best-ever car movie. Watching it though, it’s hard not to see James Garner without thinking first of his brown Firebird from Rockford Files.  I recently watched Ron Howard’s Rush again and confirmed what I thought when I first saw it.  Yawn.  Smokey and the Bandit is a great movie, but the car scenes are a little funny and goofy, which was the point. Then there is Blues Brothers, which takes funny to a whole new level.


Rendezvous (actually titled C’était un Rendez-vous, which translates to “It was a date”) takes place in Paris, and it is a “serious” film. In the 1976 film, directed by Claude Lelouch, a man (presumably) is driving a Ferrari 275 GTB (presumably, again) in the early morning, at full speed, on public streets that are not closed to traffic.

It’s “presumably,” because you never see the man, and you never see the car. For all we know, he could be driving a rented Renault. It’s the soundtrack that tells us it’s a 275 GTB. Lelouch has long suggested that the camera car wasn’t a 275 GTB. He claimed it was a Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9, which offered Ferrari-like speeds, and handled Paris’s potholes with a lot more civility, but that’s up for debate, too.

Regardless, the movie is great because it was made not like most movies, but done underground, illegally if you will.  Throughout the roughly nine minute single take, the driver barely misses pedestrians, has to detour around obstacles, and runs redlights flat out.  We love the movie because nobody was killed as much as we love it for the fun.

*Note: the low quality video shown here is just not the same as the DVD – BUY IT!

The soundtrack could not be made with a contemporary Ferrari. The one in the movie has a stick shift and clutch.  The driver so skillfully rev-matches the downshifts that it sounds like a dual clutch automatic from one of our more modern supercars.  He also uses the full width of the street and accelerates beyond the car’s grip.  Good luck getting a safety-mobile of today burdened with stability and traction control to allow that.

Is the car in the movie really the one we hear in the soundtrack? Did the filmmaker use a spotter to tell the driver if the coast was clear?  Was the actual car used even a Ferrari?  To me it doesn’t matter.  Buy and watch the movie, and then tell me if you think any 90 minute Hollywood film with a 10 minute chase scene can match it.


John Goreham

John Goreham

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