International intrigue, espionage, a villain with a megalomaniacal obsession, a car filled with gadgets, and a beautiful love interest—not James Bond but the other Ian Fleming hero, eccentric inventor Caractacus Potts and the beloved musical Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. For many moviegoers, this 1968 film is as iconic and magical as Mary Poppins.
After much hesitation and some friendly persuasion by producer Cubby Broccoli, Dick signed on for the film even though it meant breaking one of the cardinal rules of show business—working with dogs and children (and plenty of them). He was encouraged at the prospect of reuniting with the Sherman Brothers, who had written the songs for Poppins.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
It also meant shooting in London, Bavaria, and the South of France with a cast which
included Sally Ann Howes, Lionel Jeffries, Benny Hill, and even Goldfinger himself,
Gert Frobe. Once again, Dick, sans British accent this time, was responsible for
some of the film’s more memorable scenes—the frenetic “Me Ol’ Bamboo”; the “Doll
on a Music Box” duet, in which Dick and co-
In a nighttime flying scene, the miraculous car navigating itself, Caractacus assures his children that they are safe as “Chitty knows the way.” By this time, fans also felt that way about Dick Van Dyke; in his company, they were safe because he knew how to touch hearts and make people laugh.