In an interview during filming in October 1967 Dick Van Dyke revealed that he only accepted the role of Caracatus Potts on the condition that he would not have to attempt an English accent. This was after Van Dyke's attempt at a Cockney accent in Mary Poppins (1964) had been widely mocked by critics.
Baron Bomburst's castle is Neuschwanstein, built between 1869 and 1886 for the Bavarian King Ludwig II, "The Mad King of Bavaria". This castle is also famously known as the model for the Sleeping Beauty (1959) Castle at Disneyland, which was the symbol of the Disney television program Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1954) aka "Walt Disney Presents" aka "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color".
Dick Van Dyke originally turned the part down but was repeatedly offered the part with more money added in each offer. When the offer reached seven figures plus a percentage of the profits, he accepted the role.
The film "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" has a different story than the original book by James Bond creator Ian Fleming. The screen story was a creation of children's-book author Roald Dahl (of James and the Giant Peach (1996), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), etc.), who had recently written the screen story of You Only Live Twice (1967), the first Bond film to deviate severely from the original Fleming book. Fleming's "Chitty" story was about the Potts family and their flying motorcar who rescue a French candy maker and his family from ordinary gangsters led by Joe the Monster. The story of "Vulgaria" is entirely a Dahl creation, full of his distinctive stock characters and situations. Dahl also came up with the character name Truly Scrumptious, which is possibly a tribute to Fleming's stock of female characters with playful names such as Honey Ryder, Pussy Galore, and Kissy Suzuki.
The role of Truly Scrumptious was originally offered to Julie Andrews, but she declined. Sally Ann Howes had replaced Julie Andrews in the Broadway company of "My Fair Lady" when Andrews went to London in the musical, so Howes was offered the role.
Has the distinction of being the only non-James Bond film produced by Albert R. Broccoli after the Bond series began. This is because the novel on which the movie is based was written by Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond.
In a 2011 episode of SyFy Channel's Hollywood Treasure (2010) Dick Van Dyke got to sit in the "hero" car for the first time in over 40 years, and noted that he could have purchased it for $30,000 after the movie wrapped. This is the car that was offered on eBay for $1,000,000. Later in the episode, the car auction was expanded to bidders at the auction house, but failed to receive any bids. However, after auction negotiations, Chitty-Chitty sold for a reported $800,000.
Helpmann's character has often been named as one of the scariest characters ever to be brought on screen. Not only did it make it into Empire magazine, but also onto Channel 4's 100 Scariest Movie Moments. The Child Catcher was the inspiration for Marilyn Manson's "Smells Like Children" EP. The title and cover art, as well as Manson's outfit and appearance during the album, reference the Robert Helpmann character.
When the production filmed in the German town of Rothenburg on the Tauber, some locals were used. Senior citizens were cast as the townspeople of Vulgaria, while the local university's riding teams played the Vulgarian soldiers.
Whilst filming one of the scenes where the Child Catcher rides his horse and carriage out of the village, the Cage/Carriage uptilted with Robert Helpmann on board. Dick Van Dyke recalls Helpmann being able to swing out of the carriage and literally skip across the crashing vehicle. Van Dyke claims Helpmann did this with incredible grace and much like a dancer - which was Helpmann's original claim to fame.
Many parallels are drawn between Vulgaria's situation and the WWII resistances against the Nazis. Of particular note is the Childcatcher's tactic which resembles one used by Nazi scientist Josef Mengele. Mengle is noted for his eugenic experimentation and torture often with children, to whom he would offer candy to gain their trust.
With a running time of approx. two hours and 20 minutes, it's one of the longest children's film in history, certainly for its time. It wouldn't be until the next millennium, with the Harry Potter films, that films for children of such length would be made again. The title car itself isn't even introduced until a good 50 minutes in.
In his 2011 autobiography "Dick Van Dyke: My Lucky Life In and Out Of Show Business", Dick Van Dyke revealed that he did not get along with producer Albert R. Broccoli or director Ken Hughes during filming.
When the balloon arrives in Vulgaria, Grandpa Pott's shack in on the ground. A set of steps is wheeled up to the gondola so the Admiral and crew can disembark. On the side of the steps is printed "VULG-AIR."