Hollywood’s Most Hair-Raising Car Chases

Between the inevitable tryptophan overdose from all the turkey you’ll be eating and the three utter mismatches the NFL is serving up, you’re going to need something to snap you out of your coma on Thanksgiving night. Enter the Speed channel, which will air Hollywood’s Hottest Car Chases this Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.

More than just a list of the most adrenaline-fueled pursuits ever to hit the big screen, the show offers inside stories from the directors, actors and stunt men who helped make them so incredible. Which is why we don’t feel bad about spoiling anything by showing you some of the featured scenes here. And the best part: All the classics and original versions of recent remakes are represented. So you Fast & Furious fanatics better recognize!

Now let’s review: Steve McQueen burning up the streets of San Francisco … or … Bengals/Jets. We trust you’ll make the correct viewing decision.

Bullitt (1968)

More than 40 years after its release, this scene has yet to be topped. And no one has ever been cooler than Steve McQueen, before or since. When they click the seat belts, it’s ON, baby! Simply the best.

The Italian Job (1969)

When a chase scene involves a few cars tearing around on the roof of what appears to be a sports arena or convention center, you know you’ve got a winner. The weird Brady Bunch-esque soundtrack adds to the entertainment value.

The French Connection (1971)

Car chasing car is one thing, but car chasing elevated commuter train takes hot pursuit to a whole new level. This scene is the cinematic equivalent of the Thomas Hearns/Marvin Hagler fight: Tons of unforgettable action in a very short timeframe. Hackman’s multitasking with the brake, accelerator and horn is impressive, to say the least.

Gone in 60 Seconds (1974)

This film is chock full of car chase action, with this scene being the crème de la crème. “I shoulda read my horoscope this morning” followed by flooring the gas pedal. Now that’s how to get things started!

Smokey and the Bandit (1977)

Burt Reynolds. Jackie Gleason. 1977 Pontiac Firebird. CB radios. Bridge jumping. Enough said.

The Blues Brothers (1980)

What man’s blood doesn’t start pumping at the prospect of fleeing the cops at high speed and demolishing a shopping mall in the process? “Disco Pants and Haircuts.” “Yah!”

Ronin (1998)

Everyone loves a great tag team, and in these two scenes, Robert DeNiro and Jean Reno take turns showing what they can do behind the wheel of a car. It doesn’t matter which one of them is driving and which one of them is riding shotgun. Either way, there is no escape from their badassery.

The Bourne Identity (2002)

Here’s another one where the fastening of seat belts indicates that awesomeness is imminent. Never let it be said that Matt Damon has a size insecurity that he compensates for with his vehicle. This could be the tiniest car ever to be featured in a truly cool chase scene.

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