Movie Review The Love Bug

12) The Loveable Bug, 18:51-21:05.

Thorndyke wishes he did not give a figurative lift to a certain passengerahh! A bear! Meanwhile, Douglas, Tennessee, and Bennett receive a literal lift when Herbie runs out of gas at El Dorado.

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4) 11 LOVABLE FACTS; The Loveable Bug [DVD]. (2003). United States: Disney. 43-minute segment featured on Disk 2 of 2003 Special Edition DVD release ofThe Love Bug, After 39:49 (minutes and seconds into segment).

10) Ibid., The Loveable Bug, 4:57-5:47.

From 2005 to 2011, Herbie appeared in Disneys Hollywood Studios Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, which closed in 2016 to prepare for the parks Star Wars and Toy Story expansions. Herbie was replaced in Lights, Motors, Action! by Lightning McQueen fromCarsandCars 2. (19)

The Love Bugs world premiere occurred at Hollywoods Graumans Chinese Theatre. (20) A replica of this theater houses The Great Movie Ride at Disneys Hollywood Studios.

A section of Walt Disney Worlds All-Star Movies Resort is based onThe Love Bug. Other areas of this Value Resort are themed after101 Dalmatians(1961),Toy Story(1995),Fantasia(1940), andThe Mighty Duckstrilogy (1992, 1994, and 1996).

Herbie personifies a shy, insecure being with a good heart. He rewards those that befriend him with immense loyalty, but, because of his previous loneliness, he responds virulently to real or perceived rejection or betrayal. His dire reactions to negativity fuel, no pun intended, the films most emotional sequence, in nighttime San Francisco.

The Love Bugs swift, upbeat theme song is one of my favorite Disney tunes. I usually prefer lyrical numbers, but this effort by composer George Bruns is perfection. Bruns, who was also integral to the scores ofDavy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier(1955),Sleeping Beauty(1959),The Jungle Book(1967), andRobin Hood(1973), was posthumously named a Disney Legend in 2001. (15)

Concurrently cunning and ruthless, Thorndyke is a great villain. If his abuse of Herbie and his schemes to sabotage Douglas are not sufficient to intensify your anger, consider that Thorndyke was the first car dealer to utilize fine print in contracts.

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The script forThe Love Bugwas the work of the films eventual director, Bill Walsh, who was named a Disney Legend in 1991. (6) Assistant Director Christopher Hibler credited the films jokes to Walsh, calling him a creative genius. (7)

Fittingly, the one character who unceasingly believes in Herbie takes the checkered flag with the vehicle at El Dorado.

Based onCar, Boy, Girl, a 1961 book by Gordon Buford,The Love Bugwas theatrically released on December 24, 1968. The 108-minute flick, which was the final live action project approved by Walt Disney before his 1966 death (1), stars a whimsical Volkswagen Beetle named Herbie.

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With plenty of action, relatable characters, and a great soundtrack,The Love Bugis a winner of a movie.

18) The Many Lives of Herbie, [DVD]. (2003). United States: Disney. 14-minute segment featured on Disk 2 of the 2003 Special Edition DVD release ofThe Love Bug, 1:07-1:57.

Various titles were contemplated for the film before The Love Bug was settled upon, including The Magic Volksy, Beetlebomb, and Thunderbug. Dean Jones found the latter title ludicrous for the nice, little car. (9)

Herbies number, 53, was chosen because Walsh was a fan of Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Don Drysdale, who wore the number 53. (11)

The cars name, Herbie, originated from a story relayed by Buddy Hackett to a Las Vegas audience, which included Bill Walsh. (10)

Guests can experience the thrill of race car driving at Epcots Test Track and Disneys California Adventures Radiator Springs Racers.

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Douglas and Tennessee eat nutritious meals in their apartment. They maintain a surplus of parrot food even though they do not own a parrot.


The Love Buginspired numerous spinoffs, including three sequels,Herbie Rides Again(1974),Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo(1977), andHerbie Goes Bananas(1980); an unsuccessful television series, Herbie, the Love Bug, on CBS-TV in 1982; a made-for-television remake,The Love Bug(1997); and a theatrically-released remake starring Lindsay Lohan,Herbie: Fully Loaded(2005).

Many of the stunt scenes were realistic. Recalling the sequence in the El Dorado road race where Herbie glides along the side of a cliff, Christopher Hibler said, Our stunt people were actually riding on the edge of that cliff in a very unstable car, and theyre going quite fast. That was pretty dicey stuff we did up there. The stunt people really earned their pay. (14)

An underappreciated car was also the subject of Disneys 1952 animated short Susie the Little Blue Coupe. (17)

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Herbie frequently avenges Thorndykes insults by spraying the racer with oil and Irish coffee. The recipient deserves every spritz he receives.

3) Gelmis, J. (1969, March 14). Sex a Mechanical Act In Compact Love Story.Newsday, p. 46A. Retrieved July 3, 2016, from

20) The Loveable Bug, 38:43-39:49.

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6) Bill Walsh. (n.d.). Retrieved July 6, 2016, from

Tennessee is an eccentric figure who follows his conscience to extremes yet maintains happiness. He relays various stories relating to his travels in Tibet.

Herbie is a car, a material object, so why are Tennessee and Bennett angry at Douglas? Well, because Herbie is more than just a car; he is a friend, and he has human qualities. He demonstrates loyalty to allies and disdain for enemies. Douglas, Tennessee, and Bennett all recognize Herbies special traits, but while Douglas is primarily concerned with the cars ability to win races, the latter two players display a greater concern for the Volkswagens feelings. Herbie is crushed by Douglass seeming betrayal. Can the relationship be salvaged?

Joseph Gelmis was likewise pessimistic about the flick inNewsday. Gelmis said, The Love Bug is a film about a Volkswagen that falls in love with its driver. [Sigmund] Freud would have called it auto-eroticism. I call it disappointing. Not bad. But not awfully good, either. It is a strange comedy that does not quite know whether to become an adult and sophisticated satire or a childs film. (3)

Dean Jones and Walt Disney discussed a race car movie prior to the latters death. Recalling this meeting years later, Jones said, The only reference that Walt ever made toThe Love BugI had brought him a script, and it was a story of the first sports car ever brought to America. I had an option on it, and I said, This would be good for us to make. He said, Dean, I read it. I got a better car story for you. (5)

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15) George Bruns. (n.d.). Retrieved July 4, 2016, from

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A Volkswagen was chosen as the films car over other makes, including a Toyota, a Volvo, and a MG, following a casting call on the Disney Studio lot. Reactions to the various models from Disney employees were noted. The reaction to the Volkswagen was the most whimsical, with crew members and actors petting and even talking to the car. In an interview shortly before his 2003 death, Buddy Hackett noted that the car was like a friend.  Dean Jones termed the vehicle unpretentious and honest. (8) Such traits are the lifeblood of Disneys best movies.

2) Canby, V. (1969, March 14). The Screen: And Now a Word From . . .: Disney Film Offers Ad for a Certain Car The Love Bug Opens at Music Hall.New York Times, p. 50. Retrieved July 3, 2016, from

Approximately eight Herbies were utilized during the filming ofThe Love Bugsuch as to allow for different stunts. One model was extremely fast, another model was hydraulic and could perform wheelies, and still another model could shutter and shake. (12) The scenes where Herbie drove himself were conducted with an actor concealed with an extended steering wheel in the backseat. (13)

In San Francisco, Jim Douglas (Dean Jones) has become a washed up stock car driver, repeatedly losing both races and cars. Desperate to enter forthcoming events, he purchases a seemingly worthless Volkswagen Beetle from a car dealership owned by the sleazy Peter Thorndyke (David Tomlinson). Though Douglass plan is dubious, the Volkswagen, which Douglass quirky but sweet friend Tennessee Steinmetz (Buddy Hackett) names Herbie, prevails in a series of events and earns Douglass esteem. Said esteem subsists only as long as Herbie succeeds, however, and when the car loses an important race at Riverside, Douglas shuns his Volkswagen in favor of a shiny sports car, a decision that infuriates both Tennessee and Douglass quasi-lover, Carole Bennett (Michele Lee).

Thorndyke courts Douglas with bread and wine when the latter enters the antagonists car dealership, an offer that is immediately retracted when Douglas mentions that he has only $80 to spend. You cheapskate!

19) Hochberg, M. (2011, April 4). Lightning McQueen to replace Herbie in Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show. Retrieved July 4, 2016, from

Guests can drive cars at the Magic Kingdoms Tomorrowland Speedway and Disneyland Parks Autopia. The former attraction replicates a racetrack, while the latter experience is themed after Californias streets and freeways.

Audiences, however, were enthusiastic aboutThe Love Bug, which became the highest-grossing live action Disney movie to that time save forMary Poppins(1964). (4)

17) The short is featured on Disk 1 of the 2003 Special Edition DVD release ofThe Love Bug.

9) Ibid., 4:21-4:49; 11 LOVABLE FACTS.

Dean Jones convinced an initially skeptical Bill Walsh to afford him a second role as the hippie in the truck next to Herbie during the drive-in theater scene early in the movie. (16)

11) Ibid., 5:48-6:22; 11 LOVABLE FACTS.

Thorndykes assistant Mr. Havershaw (Joe Flynn) contends with mercurial treatment from his boss during the El Dorado race segment. Havershaw usually makes one comment too many for Thorndykes limited patience.

Humor nicely meshes with drama and action inThe Love Bug.

Cars and racing were key themes in Disney and PixarsCars(2006) andCars 2(2011).

The Love Bugwas the sixth of eleven theatrically-released Disney films to feature Dean Jones, followingThat Darn Cat(1965),The Ugly Dachshund(1966),Monkeys, Go Home!(1967),Blackbeards Ghost(1968), andThe Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit(1968); and precedingThe Million Dollar Duck(1971),Snowball Express(1972),The Shaggy D.A.(1976),Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo, andThat Darn Cat(1997).

Vincent Canby of theNew York TimesofferedThe Love Buga negative review, deeming the film boring. Said Canby: The movie is a long, sentimental Volkswagen commercial about a small carnever specifically identified but still as unmistakable as a Doyle Dane Bernbach adthat adopts a has-been race car driver (Dean Jones) and drives him to victory. Robert Stevenson (Mary Poppins) directed the film, which has the form of fantasy-comedy, lots of not-very-special effects and no real humor. (2)

On March 23, 1969, a Herbie Day was held at Disneyland Park to help promoteThe Love Bug. Guests were encouraged to decorate their Volkswagens for prizes and a parade down Main Street U.S.A. (18)

The film actually utilizes some excellent effects in bringing Herbie to life, but Canby raises a legitimate point in that the blue screen shots of action behind the race cars are awful. In many of these scenarios, the fans and cars in the background are awkwardly static.

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