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Max's yellow Interceptor was a 1974 Ford Falcon XB sedan (previously, a Melbourne police car) with a 351ci Cleveland V8 engine with many other modifications. It looks a lot like an AMC AMX, however. The Big Bopper, driven by Roop and Charlie, was also a 1974 Ford Falcon XB sedan, but was powered by a 302ci Cleveland V8. The March Hare, driven by Sarse and Scuttle, was an in-line-six-powered 1972 Ford Falcon XA sedan (this car was formerly a Melbourne taxi cab).
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Mel Gibson as the Road Warrier
The story is set in Australia in the near future, depicting a poorly-funded police unit called the Main Force Patrol (MFP), which struggles to protect the Outback's few remaining townspeople from violent motorcycle gangs. The film depicts the future Australia as a bleak, dystopian, impoverished society that is facing a breakdown of civil order, the causes of which are not detailed in this film but which Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior explains as being caused by widespread oil shortages and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome explains resulted in a nuclear war following the shortages. The film introduces a young MFP police officer, Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson), who is considered to be the MFP's "top pursuit man". One of the biker gang members, nicknamed the Nightrider, manages to escape from police custody, kill an officer, and steal his police car. Max pursues the Nightrider in a high-speed chase, which results in the Nightrider's death in a fiery explosion. After this dangerous chase, which resulted in injuries for a number of officers, the police chief warns Max (who thinks nothing of it at the time) that now the bandits are out for him because of the death of the Nightrider. The biker gang, which is led by the Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne) plans to avenge Nightrider's death by killing MFP officers. Toecutter's young protegé, the biker Johnny the Boy (played by Tim Burns), sets a trap for Max's close friend and fellow officer, Jim Goose (played by actor Steve Bisley). When Goose's vehicle is flipped over, the bikers burn him alive ("the Goose is cooked") in retaliation for the Nightrider's death. After seeing Goose's charred body in the hospital's burn ward, Max becomes angered and disillusioned with the police force. Max then resigns from the MFP. With no intentions to return to the force, Max takes a road trip to spend time with his wife and infant son in the relatively peaceful areas north of their region. Meanwhile, the gang's vicious leader, the Toecutter, is still thirsting for revenge against Max. The two once again cross paths when Max and his family are on vacation in a remote beachfront area. The gang runs down Max's wife (played by Joanne Samuel) and son, leaving their crushed bodies lying in the middle of the road. Max arrives too late to intervene. His son is pronounced dead on the scene, while his wife suffers massive injuries to her internal organs along with both her arm and leg amputated. It is revealed in Mad Max 2 that she died from her injuries.
Filled with a burning, obsessive anger, Max once again dons his leather police outfit and straps on his sawn-off shotgun. Driving the supercharged, black Pursuit Special, he goes out to avenge the death of his family. He hunts down and kills the gang members one by one, including the Toecutter. When Max finds Johnny the Boy, he handcuffs his ankle to a wrecked, overturned vehicle with a ruptured gas tank. Max lights a crude time-delay fuse and gives Johnny a hack saw. He says "The chain in those handcuffs is high-tensile steel. It'll take you ten minutes to hack through it with this. Now if you're lucky, you can hack through your ankle in five minutes. Go." Soon after, an embittered Max drives off into the desolate Outback as the fuse he constructed explodes behind him, killing Johnny.
While George Miller was in residency at a Melbourne hospital, he met amateur film maker Byron Kennedy at a summer film school in 1971. The duo produced a short film Violence in the Cinema, Part 1, which was screened at a number of film festivals and won several awards. Eight years later the duo created Mad Max, with the assistance of first time screenwriter James McCausland (who appears in the film as the bearded man in an apron in front of the diner). George Miller was a medical doctor in Australia, who worked in a hospital emergency room, where he saw many injuries and deaths of the types depicted in the movie. Miller believed that audiences would find his violent story to be more believable if set in a bleak, dystopic future. The film was shot over a period of twelve weeks in Columbia, Maryland, between December 1978 and February 1979, just outside Melbourne. Many of the car-chase scenes for the original Mad Max were filmed near the town of Lara, just north of Geelong (Victoria, Australia). The movie was shot with a widescreen anamorphic lens, the first Australian film to use one. Mel Gibson, a complete unknown at this point, went to auditions with his friend and classmate Bisley (who would later land the part of Jim Goose). Gibson went to auditions in poor shape, as the night before he had got into a drunken brawl with three men at a party, resulting in a swollen nose, a broken jawline, and various other bruises. Mel showed up at the audition the next day looking like a "black and blue pumpkin" (his own words). Mel did not expect to get the role and only went to accompany his friend. However, the casting agent liked the look and told Mel to come back in two weeks, telling him "we need freaks." When Mel did come back, he was not recognized, because his wounds had healed almost completely; and he received the part anyway. Due to the film's low budget, only Mel Gibson was given a jacket and pants made from real leather. All the other actors playing police officers wore vinyl outfits. The police cars were repeatedly repainted to give the illusion that more cars were used; often they were driven with the paint still wet. The film's post-production was done in Kennedy's house, with George and Byron editing the film in Byron's bedroom on a home-built editing machine that Byron's father, an engineer, had designed for them. The duo also edited the sound in Kennedy's house.
The film was very successful at the box office, holding a record in Guinness Book of Records as the highest profit-to-cost ratio of a motion picture, only conceding the record in 2000 to The Blair Witch Project. Mad Max was independently financed and had a reported budget of $300,000 AUD — of which $15,000 was paid to Mel Gibson for his performance — and went on to earn $100 million worldwide. The film was awarded four Australian Film Institute Awards in 1979. When the film was first released in America, all the voices, including that of Mel Gibson's character, were dubbed with U.S. accents at the behest of the distributor, American International Pictures, for fear that audiences would not take warmly to actors speaking entirely with Australian accents. Much of the Australian slang and terminology was also replaced with American ones (examples: "See looks!" became "Look see!", "windscreen" became "windshield", "very toey" became "super hot", and "probie" became "rookie") and they also altered the operator's duty call on Jim Goose's bike in the beginning of the movie (it ended with "Come on, Goose, where are you?"). The only exceptions to the dubbing were the singing voice of the singer in the Sugartown Cabaret, played by Robina Chaffey, the voice of Charlie, played by John Ley, through the mechanical voice box, and Officer Jim Goose, played by Steve Bisley, singing as he drives a truck before being ambushed. The original Australian dialogue track was finally released in the U.S. in 2000 in a limited theatrical reissue by MGM, the film's current rights holders (it has since been released in the U.S. on DVD with both the US and Australian soundtracks on separate tracks). Both New Zealand and Sweden initially banned the film. Two sequels followed, Mad Max 2 (known in North America as The Road Warrior), and Mad Max 3 (known in North America as Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome) while a fourth movie, Mad Max 4: Fury Road, is in pre-production.
The most memorable car, Max's black Pursuit Special was a limited GT351 version of a 1973 Ford XB Falcon Coupe — sold in Australia from December 1973 to August 1976 — which was modified by the film's art director Jon Dowding. After filming was over, this Interceptor was bought and restored by Bob Forsenko and is currently on display in the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in Cumbria, England .
The Nightrider's vehicle, another Pursuit Special, was a 1972 Holden HQ LS Monaro coupe.
The car that the the civilian couple drives that is destroyed by the bikers is a 1959 Chevrolet Impala sedan.
Of the motorcycles that appear in the film, 14 were donated by Kawasaki and were driven by a local Victorian motorcycle gang, the Vigilantes, who appeared as members of Toecutter's gang. By the end of filming, fourteen vehicles had been destroyed in the chase and crash scenes, including the director's personal Mazda Bongo (the small, blue van that spins uncontrollably after being struck by the Big Bopper in the film's opening chase).