In an interview during filming in October 1967 Dick Van Dyke revealed 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.
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.
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 both the Sleeping Beauty (1959) Castle at Disneyland, which was the symbol of the Disney television program Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color (1954), and the Walt Disney Pictures studio logo.
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.
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.
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 current owner of the Chitty car is director Peter Jackson. He could be seen near the WETA Workshop in New Zealand driving cast members of The Hobbit films around in the car while playing the main theme song through a sound system.
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.
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.
It was widely noted (particularly by Dick Van Dyke) that whilst Ken Hughes was a talented 'action' director he was not good at directing actors , especially children. Consequently, it fell to Van Dyke, Sally Ann Howes and members of the crew to entertain the children and guide them through their performances.
Has the distinction of being the only (and final) 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.
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.
The Child Catcher 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.
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.
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.
The original book "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" was written by the creator of "James Bond", Ian Fleming. In "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" three actors from "James Bond" films appear: Gert Fröbe, Desmond Llewelyn and Anna Quayle. The film was also produced Albert R. Broccoli, who also produced the James Bond film franchise from 1962-1989.
When the balloon arrives in Vulgaria, Grandpa Pott's shack is 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."
According to Dick Van Dyke on Kevin Pollak's Chat Show (2009), he said he was called into producer Albert R. Broccoli's office one day and offered the role of James Bond. Van Dyke declined, jokingly asking Cubby if he had heard his British accent, to which Cubby subsequently quipped "Oh yeah that's right" and quickly rescinded the offer.
Film producer Albert R. Broccoli, best known for producing the James Bond film franchise from 1962 to 1989, wanted to replicate similar success that Mary Poppins (1964) had enjoyed in its initial theatrical release and sought out to bring Ian Fleming's novel "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" to the screen. Desperately wanting to emulate Mary Poppins in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) in both tone and style, Broccoli hired the same musical talents of Mary Poppins to work on the film: songwriters Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, musical adapter/arranger/conductor Irwin Kostal, and choreographers Marc Breaux and Dee Dee Wood. He even went far to try to re-team Dick Van Dyke and Julie Andrews for the film, but for reasons unknown, Andrews turned down the offer. The casting decision of Sally Ann Howes may be viewed as a pale imitation of Julie Andrews, as the producer wanted the role and characterization of Truly Scrumptious to be tailor-made for Andrews.
Peter Picton aka Pierre the Clown was one of the drivers during the filming. He bought the car when that ended and owned it for 40 years. He used it as a prop in his act. He died in November 2016 in England .