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George At 

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The Love Bug

One of the perks of being on a Disney cruise is the ability to watch some family favorites on the big screen in a full size movie theatre.

Seeing 1968's THE LOVE BUG on the big screen was an absolute blast, taking me way back to seeing it in its first run as a kid.

While that may have been decades ago, the humor and charm of one of Disney's most successful live action films is still in high gear.

Dean Jones stars as stock car racer Jim Douglas, barely keeping his driving career afloat. He lives in an old run down firehouse right in the middle of San Francisco, perfectly depicted in one of those grand old matte paintings by Peter Ellenshaw that have become a lost art. His roommate is his mechanic, Tennessee, hilariously mugged by Buddy Hackett. Between this movie and "The Music Man", Hackett was my go to comic film actor of the sixties.

When Douglas visits a car dealership, he's smitten with a strange little Volkswagen that seems to have a mind of its own. When Herbie follows him home, the family friendly comedy really kicks in and never lets up.

Disney regular David Tomlinson (Mary Poppins) is Thorndyke, the stuffy owner of the luxury car dealership and Joe Flynn (McHale's Navy) is his bumbling assistant, Havershaw.

Thorndyke's secretary Carole (a perfect Michelle Lee) has a soft spot for both Herbie the car and Douglas the driver.

Once Jim starts driving Herbie in his races, the wins pile up as fast as the laughs. Thorndyke faces off against Douglas in a slew of road races. The Disney special effects team does a great job mixing visual and practical effects to create one of the most famous cars in film history. Bob Mattey was instrumental in creating most of the live action car effects, just 7 years before he would go on to create the shark in "Jaws".

It gives "Austin Powers" a run for its money with endless references to 60's hippies and groovy happenings.

One of 500 films to be nominated by the American Film Institute as one of the 100 funniest films of all time, THE LOVE BUG holds up very well for families of every generation and gets an A.

Followed by 5 sequels between 1974 and 2005 and a short-lived and little seen five episode TV series starring Jones in 1982.

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