Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is a beloved film from 1968. It’s been made into a musical. It’s lauded as family-friendly fun.
Over the years some people have raised concerns about it’s darker themes. Most often, this has centered around the Child Catcher – the admittedly very creepy villain who, as his name suggests, captures and imprisons children.
But that is not what creeps me out about this film.
No, it’s that weird scene in the film between the Baron and Baroness as they sing ‘Cho Chi Face / My Teddy Bear’. During this song, the Baron and Baroness profess their love for each other while simultaneously the Baton is trying to kill the Baroness. You can watch it on YouTube via this link.
What bothered me most, as a child, was not the cartoonish way in which the Baron tries to kill his wife. Instead, it was the Baroness. Dressed in lingerie, she strikes some relatively sexual poses. What on earth is that doing in a family film? As a child, I instinctively felt that this was inappropriate, and as an adult it seems totally unnecessary. If a point needed to be made that Baron does not like his wife, despite appearances, surely she could be fully clothed instead of dressed like some old-fashioned hooker? And the undertones of a woman offering herself sexually to a violent man just seem distasteful in family fare.
Children’s films have always taken on some darker themes (witness the profusion of parental deaths in Disney films). It may even be said that this is one way children can start to explore these themes in a safe environment. But in this case, one has to wonder what point the filmmakers actually thought they were making. If any.