Another ride with the Love Bug finds Herbie – the 1963 VW beetle with sunroof and red, white and blue racing stripes – in a heap of trouble after British thieves Quincey (Roy Kinnear) and Max (Bernard Fox) steal the world’s largest diamond from a Paris museum and hide it in our favourite Volkswagen.
Herbie is reunited with driver Jim Douglas (Dean Jones) from the original 1969 Love Bug movie and falls for a powder-blue Lancia called ‘Giselle’ which is being driven by Diane Darcy (Julie Sommars) in the Paris-Monte Carlo “Trans France” rally. Jim naturally also falls for Diane.
Don Knotts plays Wheely Applegate, the butterfingered mechanic responsible for keeping Herbie in top condition during the race.
The bungling British diamond thieves chase Herbie all the way to Monte Carlo and take some funny knocks along the way. Their foil, finally, is buck-toothed French Detective Fontenoy, marvellously played by Xavier Saint-Macary.
This third entry in Disney’s series is rather predictable, though still entertaining. Putting a headstrong intelligence under the bonnet of a car had been a winning formula over the years for the studio, but there are only a few touches here that rise above the mechanical.
While there are some nice location shots of Paris, the effect is spoiled by obvious back-projection shots of Dean Jones and Don Knotts in the car – and the scenes in the Alps clearly take place against Southern California backgrounds.
Directed by Vincent McEveety, this one is really just ‘by the numbers’ slapstick for younger viewers.
Bruno von Stickle