Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Original cinema release poster
Directed by Ken Hughes
Produced by Albert R. Broccoli
Screenplay by
Based on Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang
by Ian Fleming
Music by
Cinematography Christopher Challis
Edited byJohn Shirley
  • Warfield Productions
  • Dramatic Features
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • 16 December 1968 (1968-12-16)(London, premiere)
  • 17 December 1968 (1968-12-17)(United Kingdom)
  • 18 December 1968 (1968-12-18)(United States)
Running time
145 minutes [1]
  • United Kingdom
  • United States [2]
Budget$10 million [3]
Box office$7.5 million (rentals) [4]

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a 1968 musical adventure fantasy film, directed by Ken Hughes with a screenplay co-written by Roald Dahl and Hughes, loosely based on Ian Fleming's novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car (1964). The film stars Dick Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes, Adrian Hall, Heather Ripley, Lionel Jeffries, James Robertson Justice, Robert Helpmann, and Gert Fröbe.


The film was produced by Albert R. Broccoli. John Stears supervised the special effects. Irwin Kostal supervised and conducted the music, while the musical numbers, written by Richard M. and Robert B. Sherman, were staged by Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood. The song "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" was nominated for an Academy Award. [5]


The story opens with a montage of European Grand Prix races in which one particular car appears to win every race it runs in from 1907 until its final race in 1909, when the car crashes and catches fire, ending its racing career. The car eventually ends up in an old garage in rural England, where two children, Jeremy and Jemima Potts, have grown fond of it. However, a man in the junkyard intends to buy the car from the garage owner, Mr. Coggins, for scrap. The children, who live with their widowed father Caractacus Potts, an eccentric inventor, and the family's equally peculiar grandfather, implore their father to buy the car, but Caractacus cannot afford it. While playing truant from school, they meet Truly Scrumptious, a beautiful wealthy woman with her own motor car, who brings them home to report their truancy to their father. After she leaves, Caractacus promises the children that he will save the car, but is taken aback at the cost he has committed himself to. He looks for ways to raise money to avoid letting them down.

Later that evening, Potts discovers that the sweets produced by a machine he has invented can be played like a flute. He tries to sell the "Toot Sweets" to Truly's father, Lord Scrumptious, a major confectionery manufacturer. He is almost successful until the whistle attracts a pack of dogs who overrun the factory, resulting in Caractacus's proposition being rejected.

Caractacus next takes his automatic hair-cutting machine to a carnival to raise money, but his invention accidentally ruins the hair of his customer Cyril. Potts eludes the vengeful Cyril by joining a song-and-dance act. He becomes the centre of the show and earns more than enough in tips to buy the car and rebuild it. They name the car "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" for the unusual noise of its engine. In the first trip in the car, Caractacus, the children, and Truly picnic on the beach. Caractacus tells them a tale about nasty Baron Bomburst, the tyrant of fictional Vulgaria, who wants to steal Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

As Potts tells his story, the quartet and the car are stranded by high tide. The story then continues, in which they are attacked by pirates working for the Baron. All of a sudden, Chitty deploys huge flotation devices and transforms into a power boat, they manage to escape Bomburst's yacht and return to shore. The Baron sends two spies to capture the car, but they capture Lord Scrumptious, then Grandpa Potts by accident, mistaking each for the car's creator. Caractacus, Truly, and the children see Grandpa being taken away by airship, and they give chase. They almost catch up with Grandpa, but they accidentally drive off a cliff.

As they approach the bottom, Chitty sprouts wings and propellers and begins to fly. The chase continues, and they follow the airship to Vulgaria and find a land without children; Baron and Baroness Bomburst fear and abhor them and imprison any they find. Grandpa is taken to the castle, and has been ordered by the Baron to make another floating car just for him. He bluffs his abilities to the Baron to avoid being executed. The Potts' party is helped and hidden by the local Toymaker, who now works only for the childish Baron. Chitty is discovered and then taken to the castle. While Caractacus and the toymaker search for Grandpa and Truly searches for food, the children are caught by the Baron and Baroness’ Child Catcher.

The Toymaker takes Truly and Caractacus to a grotto beneath the castle where the townspeople have been hiding their children. They concoct a scheme to free the children and the village from the Baron. The Toymaker sneaks them into the castle disguised as life-size dolls for the Baron's birthday. Caractacus snares the Baron, and the children swarm into the banquet hall, overcoming the Baron's palace guards and guests. In the ensuing chaos, the Baron, Baroness, and the evil Child Catcher are captured. Chitty comes to their rescue and, at the same time, they are reunited with Grandpa. The Potts family and Truly bid farewell to the Toymaker and the rest of the village, then fly back home to England.

When Caractacus finishes the story they set off for home, stopping to drop Truly off at Scrumptious Manor, where Caractacus dismisses any possibility of them having a future together, with what she regards as inverted snobbery. The Potts family arrive back at their cottage where Lord Scrumptious surprises Caractacus with an offer to buy the Toot Sweets as a canine confection, re-naming them Woof Sweets. Caractacus, realising that he will be rich, rushes to tell Truly the news. They kiss, and Truly agrees to marry him. As they drive home, he acknowledges the importance of pragmatism as the car takes off into the air again, this time without wings.

After the credits, a screen with the words "Exit Music" appears with a reprise version of the "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" theme playing.


The main cast after landing in Vulgaria. Chitty3.jpg
The main cast after landing in Vulgaria.

The cast includes: [6]

The part of Truly Scrumptious had originally been offered to Julie Andrews, to reunite her with Van Dyke after their success in Mary Poppins . Andrews rejected the role specifically because she considered that the part was too close to the Poppins mould. [7] Instead, Sally Ann Howes was given the role. Van Dyke was cast after he turned down the role of Fagin from another 1968 musical Oliver! (which ended up going to Ron Moody).


The Caractacus Potts inventions in the film were created by Rowland Emett; by 1976, Time magazine, describing Emett's work, said no term other than "Fantasticator...could remotely convey the diverse genius of the perky, pink-cheeked Englishman whose pixilations, in cartoon, watercolor and clanking 3-D reality, range from the celebrated Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway to the demented thingamabobs that made the 1968 movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang a minuscule classic." [8]

Ken Adam designed the hero car [9] , and six Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang cars were created for the film, only one of which was fully functional. At a 1973 auction in Florida, one of them sold for $37,000, equal to $213,097 today. [10] The original "hero" car, in a condition described as fully functional and road-going, was offered at auction on 15 May 2011 by a California-based auction house. [11] The car sold for $805,000, less than the $1–2 million it was expected to reach. [12] It was purchased by New Zealand film director Sir Peter Jackson. [13]


Cobstone Windmill in 2011 Cobstone Windmill.jpg
Cobstone Windmill in 2011
Feature in filmLocation of filming
Scrumptious Sweet Co. factory (exterior)Kempton Waterworks, Snakey Lane, Hanworth, Greater London, England. [14]
This location now includes a steam museum open to the public.
Scrumptious Mansion Heatherden Hall at Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England [14]
Windmill/Cottage Cobstone Windmill in Ibstone, near Turville, Buckinghamshire, England [14]
Duck Pond Russell's Water, Oxfordshire, England [14]
Train sceneThe Longmoor Military Railway, Hampshire, England
Beach Cap Taillat, St. Tropez, France
River bridge where spies attempt to blow up ChittyIver Bridge, Iver, Buckinghamshire, England
Railway bridge where spies kidnap Lord ScrumptiousIlmer Bridge, Ilmer, Buckinghamshire, England
White rock spires in the ocean and lighthouse The Needles stacks, Isle of Wight, England
White cliffs Beachy Head, East Sussex, England
Baron Bomburst's castle (exterior) Neuschwanstein Castle, Bavaria, Germany
Vulgarian village Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany


Box office

The film was the tenth most popular at the US box office in 1969. [15]


Time began its review by saying the film is a "picture for the ages—the ages between five and twelve" and ended noting that "At a time when violence and sex are the dual sellers at the box office, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang looks better than it is simply because it's not not all all bad bad"; the film's "eleven songs have all the rich melodic variety of an automobile horn. Persistent syncopation and some breathless choreography partly redeem it, but most of the film's sporadic success is due to director Ken Hughes's fantasy scenes, which make up in imagination what they lack in technical facility." [16]

The New York Times critic Renata Adler wrote, "in spite of the dreadful title, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ... is a fast, dense, friendly children's musical, with something of the joys of singing together on a team bus on the way to a game"; Adler called the screenplay "remarkably good" and the film's "preoccupation with sweets and machinery seems ideal for children"; she ends her review on the same note as Time: "There is nothing coy, or stodgy or too frightening about the film; and this year, when it has seemed highly doubtful that children ought to go to the movies at all, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang sees to it that none of the audience's terrific eagerness to have a good time is betrayed or lost." [17]

Film critic Roger Ebert reviewed the film, writing: "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang contains about the best two-hour children's movie you could hope for, with a marvelous magical auto and lots of adventure and a nutty old grandpa and a mean Baron and some funny dances and a couple of [scary] moments." [18]

As of 22 July 2019, the film has a 67% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 27 reviews with an average rating of 5.63/10. [19]


The original soundtrack album, as was typical of soundtrack albums, presented mostly songs with very few instrumental tracks.

The soundtrack has been released on CD four times, the first two releases using the original LP masters rather than going back to the original music masters to compile a more complete soundtrack album with underscoring and complete versions of songs. The 1997 Rykodisc release included several quick bits of dialogue from the film between some of the tracks and has gone out of circulation. On 24 February 2004, a few short months after MGM released the movie on a 2-Disc Special Edition DVD, Varèse Sarabande reissued a newly remastered soundtrack album without the dialogue tracks, restoring it to its original 1968 LP format.

In 2011, Kritzerland released the definitive soundtrack album, a 2-CD set featuring the Original Soundtrack Album plus bonus tracks, music from the Song and Picture Book Album on disc 1, and the Richard Sherman Demos, as well as six Playback Tracks (including a long version of international covers of the theme song). Inexplicably, this release was limited to only 1,000 units. [20]

In April 2013, Perseverance Records re-released the Kritzerland double CD set with expansive new liner notes by John Trujillo and a completely new designed booklet by Perseverance regular James Wingrove.

Home media

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was released numerous times in the VHS format as well as Betamax, CED, and LaserDisc. In 1998, the film saw its first DVD release. The year 2003 brought a two-disc "Special Edition" release. On 2 November 2010, MGM Home Entertainment through 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released a two-disc Blu-ray and DVD combination set featuring the extras from the 2003 release as well as new features. The 1993 LaserDisc release by MGM/UA Home Video was the first home video release with the proper 2.20:1 Super Panavision 70 aspect ratio.


Novelisation of film

Novelization of the film by John Burke, published by Pan Books Chitty bang.JPG
Novelization of the film by John Burke, published by Pan Books

The film did not follow Fleming's novel closely. A separate novelisation of the film was published at the time of the film's release. It basically followed the film's story but with some differences of tone and emphasis, e.g. it mentioned that Caractacus Potts had had difficulty coping after the death of his wife, and it made it clearer that the sequences including Baron Bomburst were extended fantasy sequences. It was written by John Burke. [21]

Scale models

Corgi Toys released a scale replica of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang with working features such as pop out wings. [22] Mattel Toys also produced a replica with different features, while Aurora produced a detailed hobby kit of the car. [23]

Comic book adaption

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang's Adventure in Tinkertown

An educational PC game was released in October 1996, featuring the titular car where players have to solve puzzles to complete the game. [25]

Related Research Articles

<i>Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang</i> Childrens novel written by Ian Fleming

Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car is a children's novel written by Ian Fleming for his son Caspar, with illustrations by John Burningham. It was initially published in three volumes, the first of which was released on 22 October 1964 by Jonathan Cape in London.

Caractacus Pott is one of the main characters in Ian Fleming's novel Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang and its film adaptation. The film version of the story makes several changes to Pott's character.

Truly Scrumptious is a fictional character in the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film and stage production based on the children's novel of the same name by author Ian Fleming.

Lionel Jeffries English actor, screenwriter and film director

Lionel Charles Jeffries was an English actor, director and screenwriter. He appeared primarily in films and received a Golden Globe Award nomination during his acting career.

"Me Ol' Bamboo" is a song written by the Sherman Brothers for the motion picture Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was originally written to be choreographed as a morris dance for the film by Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood and adapted for the stage by choreographer Gillian Lynne who also created the choreography for Cats and The Phantom of the Opera.

Child Catcher

The Child Catcher is a character in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) and in the later stage musical adaptation. The Child Catcher is employed by Baron Bomburst and Baroness Bomburst to snatch and imprison children on the streets of Vulgaria.

Truly Scrumptious is a song composed for the 1968 motion picture Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and later performed in its 2002/2005 stage adaptation. The song was written by Robert B. Sherman & Richard M. Sherman. It is about the lead female character, Truly.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is the vintage racing car which features in the book, musical film and stage production of the same name. Writer Ian Fleming took his inspiration for the car from a series of aero-engined racing cars built by Count Louis Zborowski in the early 1920s, christened Chitty Bang Bang. The original Chitty Bang Bang's engine was from a Zeppelin dirigible. The name reputedly derived either from the sound it made whilst idling, or from a bawdy song from World War I. Six versions of the car were built for the film and a number of replicas have subsequently been produced. The version built for the stage production holds the record for the most expensive stage prop ever used.

<i>Chitty Chitty Bang Bang</i> (musical) musical

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a stage musical based on the 1968 film produced by Albert R. Broccoli. The music and lyrics were written by Richard and Robert Sherman with book by Jeremy Sams.

"Hushabye Mountain" is a ballad by the songwriting team Robert and Richard Sherman. It appears twice in the 1968 Albert R. Broccoli motion picture Chitty Chitty Bang Bang: first as an idyllic lullaby by Caractacus Potts to his children; and later when the children of Vulgaria have lost all hope of salvation. The song is also featured prominently in the 2002 and 2005 stage musical versions.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (song) song

"Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" is an Academy Award-nominated song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the 1968 musical motion picture. In the film it is sung by Dick Van Dyke and Sally Ann Howes. "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" is also featured prominently in Chitty the Musical, which premiered in London at the Palladium in 2002 and on Broadway in 2005 at the newly refurbished Foxwoods Theatre.

"Chu-Chi Face" is a song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the 1968 musical motion picture. In the film it is sung by Gert Fröbe as Baron Bomburst and Anna Quayle as Baroness Bomburst. "Chu-Chi Face" is also featured prominently in the award-winning stage musical version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang which premiered in London at the Palladium in 2002 and on Broadway in 2005 at the newly refurbished Foxwoods Theatre. Brian Blessed and Nichola McAuliffe originated their respective stage roles at the London Palladium in 2002.

"Doll on a Music Box" is a song originally from the 1968 musical film, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was subsequently performed in the 2002/2005 stage musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang as well. It is both a musical and lyrical counterpoint to the more free flowing, legato song, "Truly Scrumptious". In the song, Truly is disguised as a wind up music box doll, metaphorically and actually on a pedestal. In the song, Truly sings about herself and her rigid nature, all behind the mask of the "doll" she is portraying. In the motion picture the part of Truly was played by actress Sally Ann Howes. In the stage musical version, the part was re-created by 19-year-old London actress, Emma Williams. In 2005, the Broadway "Truly" was portrayed by actress Erin Dilly, who was nominated for a Tony Award that year for the role.

"Toot Sweets" is a song from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the 1968 musical motion picture. In the film it is sung by Dick Van Dyke and Sally Ann Howes. "Toot Sweets" is also featured prominently in the multi-award-winning stage musical of the same name which premiered in London at the Palladium in 2002 and on Broadway in 2005 at the newly refurbished Foxwoods Theatre. The song was written by Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman.

"You Two" is a song from the 1968 film musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The song also appears in the 2002–2005 stage musical version. It was written by Robert and Richard Sherman. The song is sung by a single–widower father to his two twin children. An inventor by trade, Potts sings the song against the backdrop of his eccentric inventor's workshop. The melody from this song was also used in counterpoint several times with the melody of the title song, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (song).

"The Roses of Success" is a song and musical number from the popular 1968 motion picture Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. In the film, it is sung when Grandpa Potts is caught in the Vulgarian inventors' workshop and is forced to modify a car that floats or face the consequences. The other imprisoned inventors sing this song in the hopes that they might cheer up the despondent Grandpa. He is cheered up and sings along, but in the end the car collapses. The song is also featured prominently in the 2002 and 2005 stage musical versions of the film. In American TV broadcasts of the 1968 motion picture, this song is often cut to fit into a two-hour time slot. The other song that is sometimes alternatively cut is "Lovely Lonely Man". It was made by the Sherman Brothers

"Posh!" is an up tempo song and musical number from the popular 1968 Albert R. Broccoli motion picture, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It is written by the songwriting team of Sherman & Sherman. It makes reference to the myth that the word "posh" is an acronym for "Port Out, Starboard Home". In the film it is sung when "Grandpa Potts" is being carried away in his outhouse. He sees the situation as serendipitous until he finally meets his kidnapper, Baron Bombhurst in Vulgaria.

"Come to the Funfair" is a song first written for the 1968 musical film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang but was cut almost entirely from the final edit of the film. The musical theme is still heard in the soundtrack immediately after "Caractacus Potts" sings "Hushabye Mountain". Then Potts gets the idea to earn money by cutting hair at the funfair. The music is heard as carnies walk by in the distance. The song was written by Robert B. Sherman & Richard M. Sherman.

"Lovely Lonely Man" is a song from the 1968 musical film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was written by Richard & Robert Sherman and sung by Sally Ann Howes as Truly Scrumptious. In the song, she pines for eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts.

Chitty Bang Bang was an airship built for the 1968 film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It was intended to represent the airship of Baron Bomburst of Vulgaria. Although fictional in inspiration, it was a fully functional flying airship.


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