American movies’ fast and furious love for the car

"Muscle beats import every time," sneers a character in "Fast & Furious," the latest installment of the auto-fetishizing Hollywood action franchise that celebrates gas-guzzling hot rods, well-upholstered females and action heroes with chests the size of V-8 engines. If only that statement were as true in Detroit as it is in Hollywood fantasy. As it stands, two of the Big 3 could soon be parked in bankruptcy court or, in the case of Chrysler, begging for a tow from an Italian automaker.

The opening of "Fast & Furious" on Friday came scant days after former GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner was forced by the White House to step down as part of a last-ditch restructuring deal that may be too late to save GM from the scrap heap of bankruptcy, if not history. If GM were only doing fractionally as well as "F&F," which opened at No. 1 last weekend with a dazzling $72 million in ticket sales, we might not be wondering whether in the not-too-distant future we'll be driving trucks with names like Yangtze and watching Scott Dixon win the Indy 500 with Team People's Republic

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