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Lincoln Continentals on Film

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/1/2015 Frank Markus
1977 Lincoln Continental© Provided by MotorTrend 1977 Lincoln Continental Lincoln Continentals on Film

When asked in a court of law under oath what was the most famous car in the world, expert witness and Motor Trend Classic contributor Mary Seelhorst answered, “I think the most famous car is the Lincoln limo President Kennedy was riding in when he was assassinated.” That’s because countless millions of eyeballs saw the silent home-movie shot by Abraham Zapruder at the time, and generations since have seen it, incorporated as it’s been into other movies such as Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” Clint Eastwood’s “In the Line of Fire,” and the docudrama “Parkland.” That original film clip now resides in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. But Lincoln’s iconic Continental, recently reborn in concept form, has been starring on screens big and small almost since its introduction in 1939. The Internet Movie Cars Database lists more than 2100 instances. Here are 10 favorites representing various classic vintage Continental models:

1945: “ Detour
Edgar G. Ulmer’s 68-minute “poverty row” film adaptation of Martin Goldsmith’s novel centers on a down-and-out piano player hitchhiking to California. He catches a ride with a bookie driving a prominently featured 1941 Lincoln Continental model 65 Convertible Cabriolet and accidentally kills the bookie, then assumes his identity in hopes of snagging an inheritance.

1962: “ Whatever Happened to Baby Jane
In between the scenes when Bette Davis is psychologically torturing her Hollywood nemesis, Joan Crawford, she’s seen driving a 1947 Lincoln Continental convertible (which is at one point misidentified as a prewar model in a police or news report).


1973: “ The Long Goodbye
Robert Altman’s neo-noir rendition of the 1953 novel is set in the 1970s, but Elliot Gould’s PI character Philip Marlowe services his Hollywood clientele and investigates his wife’s murder over several trips to and from Mexico from in a 1948 Lincoln Continental Convertible Cabriolet.

1956: “ High Society
Perhaps the most prominent film placement of the stunning Continental Mk II was in this Cole Porter-scored musical comedy remake of 1940’s “Philadelphia Story,” starring Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and — in her final film performance — Grace Kelly. Sinatra, of course, bought one of his own.

1955-1962: “ Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Hollywood may have shunned the 1958-1960 Lincoln Continental “Forgotten Marks” III-V, but they were often featured prominently in episodes of the TV anthology series of dramas, thrillers, and mysteries introduced by the wry and rotund director/producer.

1978: “ Animal House
In this National Lampoon masterpiece, Delta Tau Chi pledge “Flounder” Dorfman borrows his brother’s 1964 Lincoln Continental and allows his frat brothers to commandeer it for a “road trip!” that mangles the car. Brother “Bluto” then transforms it into the Deathmobile parade float.

1999: “ The Matrix
After Mister Anderson, aka Neo, chooses the red pill in the Wachowskis’ sci-fi action thriller, he uses a black 1965 Lincoln Continental to get around inside the Matrix, in between scenes of exchanging (and dodging) inordinate amounts of ordinance with the Agents.

1971: “ The French Connection
The bad guy drug smugglers in this epic car-chase thriller used a 1970 Lincoln Continental Mk III to smuggle the heroin, cleverly concealed in the rocker panels and only discovered after the car weighs in 120 pounds too heavy. It’s on screen for much of the last 20 minutes of the movie.

1972-1976: “ Cannon
Frank Cannon, the private detective protagonist played by a girthy William Conrad in the long-running Quinn-Martin TV series, never missed an opportunity to corner his Lincoln Continental Mk IV on the whitewalls when in hot pursuit of his weekly bad guy.

1979: “ The North Avenue Irregulars
Disney’s madcap mob comedy pits the ladies’ auxiliary of the North Avenue Presbyterian church against an organized crime gang, ending in a veritable demolition derby. Cloris Leachman’s Claire uses her Lincoln Continental Mk V as a weapon of revenge after an impact breaks a nail.

Bonus round: Contis in Music Videos:

Maroon Five, “Sugar,” 1961 Lincoln Continental Convertible
Sheryl Crow, “Leaving Las Vegas,” 1962 Lincoln Continental Convertible
Mos Def, “Sex, Love & Money,” Lincoln Continental
Jamie Foxx featuring Twista, “DJ Play a Love Song,” 1961 Lincoln Continental
Ja Rule featuring Case, “Livin' It Up,” 1962 Lincoln Continental
Jagged Edge, “Walked Outta Heaven,” 1962 Lincoln Continental
Keith Sweat featuring Athena Cage, “Nobody,” 1965 Lincoln Continental


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