Still, after 90 plus years of cinema, actors remain unconvincing behind the wheel. They barely watch the road, or they turn the wheel incessantly, or they talk over their shoulders which would sprain any actual driver’s neck. I can forgive classic Hollywood bad movie driving. The actors would climb in a car set in front of a screen that projected their surroundings later. One example: To Catch a Thief (1955).
Keep in mind, this is by Alfred Hitchcock, one of cinema’s great masters. Keep in mind also, I’m not pointing to the old fashioned special effects, which are still rather effective. I’m looking at Grace Kelly’s simulation of driving. She, at least, keeps her eyes on the road convincingly, but she’s turning the wheel every other beat, which has become the standard for fake film driving. Why? Are actors afraid that if they don’t turn the wheel enough, we won’t buy into the illusion? Nobody turns the wheel that much when driving.
The thing is fake driving on film is still pretty bad more often than not. It’s not juts an old fashioned thing. Sixty years later, you still have plenty examples of poor driving.
No, it’s not that dire. It’s just amazing to me that director’s don’t point this out. It’s become a pet peeve of mine. Any time there’s driving in a film, I’m watching the technique.
-Walter Tyrone Howard-