Cars in movies: Days of Thunder

The YouTube channel Coors Bandit (and its founder Joe Jackson) made a rather exceptional find for movie and automotive lovers. It involves the Chevrolet Lumina Mello Yello number 51 and the Hardee's Chevrolet Lumina number 18, featured in parts of the cult "Days of Thunder" starring Tom Cruise, Robert Duvall and Nicole Kidman.
The discovery is incredible first of all because they are two of the cars that made fans of this film so in love with it. And then because of the condition in which they were found: completely abandoned to themselves, in a wooded area.As for the Lumina Mello Yello (driven by Cole Trickle/Tom Cruise in the film's historic final race), it was immediately secured by Joe Jackson in a covered location. The condition of the car appeared to be very critical: the body was completely affected by rust and there was no sign of the wheels. The restoration work itself, mentioned by Jackson in the video, is near the limits of the impossible.Slightly better, however, is the condition of Hardee's, equipped with wheels but also very fragile and sheltered next to Mello Yello.
The news triggered fans and cried out for a nostalgia operation. A move fomented by Cruise himself who, after the release of "Top Gun 2" is apparently getting down to the business of creating a sequel to "Days of Thunder." Unlike "Top Gun," however, "Days of Thunder" failed to be a critical success. Despite the $158 million it earned internationally, infact, in the eyes of critics (the great Roger Ebert above all) it was rather a clumsy attempt to repeat the operation using the same narrative scheme as the first "Top Gun", changing only the vehicle involved."Days of Thunder" is the film that brought together the couple Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, who officially married in December of the same year. The two would also work together in "Rebel Hearts" and Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut."
The film's protagonist is a rebellious and troubled driver (Cole Trickle) who is hired by the Nascar team owner to be part of his own stable. Thus, Harry Hogge (a character played by the giant Robert Duvall and inspired by Harry Hyde, Nascar team leader in the 1960s and 1980s) is asked to build a car for young Trickle. Hogge coaches Trickle with some skepticism but has to think again very soon: the boy wins at the Darlington circuit and becomes the No. 1 antagonist of another great racing star, namely Rowdy Burns (Michael Rooker). At Daytona, the two are involved in a car accident: Cole Trickle succeeds, partly thanks to the rehabilitation dictated by Dr. Claire Lewicki (Nicole Kidman), in recovering, while Rowdy, due to the trauma developed during the accident, will never be able to return to racing.
In the meantime, Russ Wheeler (Cary Elwes), Cole Trickle's replacement, is coming on stronger and stronger, tearing even the young prodigy and Harry's team apart at the first opportunity. The race of races again takes place at Daytona. For the occasion, Rowdy, who has now become Trickle's enemy-friend, asks him to race his car in order to fulfill agreements made with sponsors before he was involved in the accident.The ending is as phoned-in as it is exciting: the race starts badly for the young hero, but with great effort he manages to climb back up from last to first, defeating Wheeler at the very last stretch. Claire, now permanently in love, also attends the race. The final kiss between the two is what, cinematically, can be called "the icing on the cake."
Although it engaged genre fans from all over the world, we certainly cannot consider "Days of Thunder" a "memorable" film, or at least not as much as "Top Gun" (which was also directed by Tony Scott). There are also a few scenes to be saved: above all Trickle's final comeback, but also Nicole Kidman's angry monologue against Tom Cruise: "You want to control something that is uncontrollable, you said it yourself right? Well, then I'm going to reveal to you a secret that practically every other person in the world knows: being in control is an illusion, you immature egomaniac. Nobody knows what's going to happen, not on the highway, not on a plane. Nor inside our bodies; not to mention on a racetrack with forty other immature egomaniacs! No one knows and no one controls anything; you have had a small example of this, and you are afraid. You may never have the courage to run again, and maybe you never did.... Oh god, how I hate you for that, you son of a bitch. You make me sound like a doctor!"
Indeed, if up to this scene Kidman's presence seemed simply an embellishment put in on purpose to make the protagonist fall in love, it is in this scene that Dr. Lewicki's nature comes out: she is the voice of Trickle's conscience, the impetus that leads the main character to a maturation that will determine the rest of the story.All in all, we can say that "Days of Thunder" is a somewhat marginal film compared to many others in Tom Cruise's career. Yet, whether because of the subject matter or Cruise's popularity at the time, it is still remembered. Proof of this is the excitement of Joe Jackson and all his followers in recovering two of the many iconic cars featured in the film.
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