Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977)

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This review of the third entry in the Herbie series is due to the request of an animation and film friend of mine, Mike Kobela. Without further ado, here’s my review of the 1977 sequel, Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo!

And remember, SPOILERS AHEAD!

Directed by the late Vincent McEveety, the film starts off in France where we see that familiar, sentient Volkswagen Beetle, Herbie, being driven by racecar driver Jim Douglas, played again by Dean Jones. Along for the ride is mechanic Wheely Applegate, played by Don Knotts. They’re in town hoping to win a series of races (ending in Monte Carlo) after having a losing streak for some time.

So what happened to Ken Berry in Herbie Rides Again? Well, it doesn’t matter as this film pretty much ignores the existence of Herbie Rides Again altogether!

At the same time, an expensive diamond in a nearby museum is stolen by two thieves, Max and Quincey, played by Bernard Fox and Roy Kinnear, respectively. Unfortunately for them, the burglar alarm goes off and the police arrive on the scene and start searching everyone. Before the police can get to them, the thieves manage to hide the diamond inside Herbie’s gas tank without anybody seeing.

Who knew that Malcolm Merriweather and Mr. Salt would make a thieving duo?

But Jim and Wheely drive off with Herbie before the thieves can retrieve the diamond once again. So not only are the thieves on the trail to find the diamond again, but the French police, in particular Inspector Bouchet, played by Jacques Marin, and his enthusiastic subordinate Detective Fontenoy, played by Xavier Saint-Macary, are also on the trail to find the diamond.

While this is going on, Jim and Wheely get ready for their first race, but trouble happens when Herbie falls in love with a Lancia, another race car in the race. Herbie (with Jim and Wheely inside) then starts driving recklessly towards the Lancia resulting in its driver, Diane Darcy, played by Julie Sommars, getting incredibly angry at Jim. Jim apologizes and tries to explain how it wasn’t him who messed up her driving, but Herbie! And of course, Diane doesn’t believe a word of this!

And who can blame her? She wasn’t in the other films, after all!

As the film continues, Jim and Wheely continue to have trouble with Diane, especially due to Herbie and the Lancia. Max and Quincey (whom we discover are working for a mysterious person known as “Double X”) continue to tail Jim and Wheely and even try attacking them during a part of a race where nobody can see them!

Jim and Wheely decide to leave Herbie under the protection of the French police one night due to this incident. Inspector Bouchet is ecstatic about this because as it turns out he is the mysterious “Double X”! However, before he can get his hands on the diamond, Detective Fontenoy takes the responsibility himself to keep Herbie safely hidden away until the next day’s race.

“I guess I’ll go put away this diamond in the rough.”
“You have no idea, Fontenoy!”

The next day, Fontenoy brings Herbie back in time, but Herbie is more interested in looking for the Lancia rather than racing. Jim and Wheely earlier lied to the Lancia (who wouldn’t start for Diane) by telling her that Herbie no longer loved her and moved on. Now, Jim and Wheely lie to Herbie telling him that the Lancia left him.

This new anger compels Herbie to race, but it’s not long before he’s attacked once again by Max and Quincey. Jim and Wheely (with Herbie’s help, of course) manage to fight off the thieves and also realize that the stolen diamond is inside Herbie’s gas tank.

Here’s the big question: If you could only have a multi-million dollar diamond or a sentient car, which would you have?

They intend to deliver the diamond to the authorities at the end of the race, but before they get there, they pass Diane and the Lancia stuck in a nearby lake. Herbie drives past them without batting an eyelid until Jim and Wheely admit that they lied to him and apologize. Herbie then goes back and helps drag the Lancia out of the lake, a feat that finally convinces Diane that everything she’s heard about Herbie so far has been true!

After rescuing Diane and the Lancia, Jim and Wheely (along with Herbie, of course) finish the race in Monte Carlo and actually win it! They deliver the diamond to Inspector Bouchet who is there waiting for their arrival. But it’s not long before it’s discovered that Inspector Bouchet is the dastardly “Double X” and he’s arrested by Detective Fontenoy.

“Arresting your superior? Fontenoy, you have no respect!”

The film ends with Jim and Diane falling in love and Herbie and the Lancia continuing to be in love.

And that was Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo! And honestly, it’s a very average movie. Some scenes feel too stretched out whereas others feel like nothing is happening. The acting is great though by all (well maybe except Julie Sommars) and seeing Dean Jones and Don Knotts, Bernard Fox and Roy Kinnear, or Jacques Marin and Xavier Saint-Macary working off each other is one of the highlights of the film! The driving scenes with Herbie are also good, but they don’t seem as grandiose or spectacular as some of the previous films. Overall, I reiterate what I said before: this film is very average!

So, the final score for this film is 22/35 = 62.86% (D-) !

The next review will be posted on October 2, 2018.

8 thoughts on “Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (1977)

  1. Urgh…terrible sequel. If one really wants to watch a movie about a race involving a bunch of diamonds hidden in one of the cars, there is a way better movie by Disney with this particular plot.

      1. I had to look it up first because I wasn’t sure about the english title…it’s Diamonds on Wheels. If you ask me, one of the better Disney family films.

      2. Digging a little bit deeper (apparently this movie is pretty much forgotten), it is listed as a TV movie at IMdB. But it is a Disney production…the only reason I remember the movie is because I recorded it back in the day on VHS (frankly, no idea why) and then kept it because I kind of liked the movie. Certainly more than Herbie goes to Monte Carlo.

  2. As I’ve mentioned to you, I’m super nostalgic to this movie, as I’ve seen it a gajillion times. There are a lot of scenes that still made me smile last time I saw it like a month ago, like when Herbie goes on a date with the Lancia, or the times the thieves try to get the diamond. I can see, though, that these scenes feel like they pan out a long, or don’t seem that necessary to the plot. I was also not in favor of the “I don’t believe the existence of Herbie even if I could easily see it through my eyes” plotline, and the race is also a lot of stopping and going, which is not the best pace.

    But again, my nostalgic self will forever love this movie, through and through, haha!

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