The woman driver onscreen
I’m a bit behind the curve with movies. I just watched The Muppets – and loved it. There was one point of tension, when the girl got in the car on the wrong side – the one with the steering wheel – and I thought, oh no, here it comes, she’s going to weave all over the road, chase some pedestrians and squash Kermit.
After all, it’s like Chekhov’s law about the gun: if you put a gun on the mantelpiece in Act 1, it must be fired no later than the end of Act 3. On both the big and small screen, if a woman gets behind the wheel when there’s a perfectly good man around, you know she’s going to crash it.
On You Tube you’ll find hundreds of ‘bad women driver’ videos. No ‘bad man driver’ equivalents, though. In movies and on TV, women and cars don't mix.
Excuse my sense of humour failure, but why won’t this stereotype die? Surely it’s time it packed its cases and retired, along with the bulldog-style mother-in-law and that amusing black chap called Chalky. Why can’t a woman just get in a car and drive it?
In The Muppets movie she did just that. She got in, they drove somewhere and they got out again. Amazing. Yet another reason to love those little foam, felt and fluffy legends.
I was a little ashamed to have doubted them. Maybe it was on my mind because I’d finally seen The Artist as well. It's a great film, but as usual, when the girl got in the car, she weaved all over the road, chased some pedestrians and hit a tree.
She should have let the dog drive; he seemed to be able to do everything else.
I’ll be keeping up a Woman Driver Watch: please let me know if you spot anything.
Good women drivers
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) Diana Rigg drives brilliantly in an icy car chase
Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) Angelina Jolie steals cars; I assume she drove OK or it might have hampered her getaway.
Smokey and the Bandit (1977) Sally Fields gets handed the wheel and expected the drive like a lunatic – she does.
Death Proof (2007) pack of stunt women in a 1970 Dodge Charger get their own back on Kurt Russell after a fine car chase in Quentin Tarantino's spoof.
Battlestar Gallatica (TV series) OK it's not a car, but not only is the top gun pilot a woman (Starbuck) but no one thinks that's unusual.
Dark Knight Rises Catwoman handles the Batbike with panache. Male members of the audience were, of course, watching her leather-clad arse, not her driving.
Thelma and Louise Have to count as good guys (girls). Every pair of women heading off on a road trip always calls themselves Thelma and Louise. I'm not really sure driving off a cliff counts as good driving, though.
Bad women drivers onscreen
High Society (1956) Grace Kelly frightens Frank Sinatra by driving too fast
To Catch a Thief (1955) Grace Kelly frightens Cary Grant by driving too fast (in a gorgeous Sunbeam Alpine Sports Roadster)
Get Carter (1971) Girl frightens Michael Caine by driving too fast. Drowning her in the boot seemed a bit of an over reaction, though.
Goldfinger (1964) Tilly Masterson (Tania Mallet) is the rudest driver ever, as she blasts her horn at Bond and barges past his DB5 in her Mustang Convertible
Clockwise (1986) Penelope Wilton drives an unfunny John Cleese in an unfunny comedy
Convoy (1978) Why is Black Widow is the only trucker to overturn her rig?
Two Lane Blacktop (1971) The Driver tries to lure the Girl away from the Mechanic by giving her a driving lesson in the '55 Chevy. She fails, he fails.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) Truly Scrumptious drives into the pond. Twice.
Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! (1965) Not actually sure what their driving was like, but they were bad. The Porsche is nice, though.
Ahead of the Class (1985) Julie Walters prangs the wheel of her husband's beloved E-type on some garden gnomes before an excruciating sex scene with Ian Charleston. A waste of a car and two excellent actors.
The Artist (2011) Woman driver in action is a let-down in an otherwise clever and funny film.
The Simpsons Marge weaves all over the road and chases Homer into the garage, while Maggie learns to do the same.
Pan Am the sister double-crashes a ‘59 Caddy out of a parking space while fleeing her wedding in order to pour drinks in a plane.
The Sopranos Meadow’s poor parking distracted viewers so much, many missed Tony Soprano getting shot.
Brookside The mum turns round to yell at the kids: "I'm going to kill you!" Whoops.
Episodes I love Tamsin Greig, but I stopped watching when her character whines that she doesn’t want to go to LA because “I’ll have to drive”, before driving on the wrong side of the road headlong into another car. Hilarious.
Last of the Summer Wine Did that woman ever pass her driving test?
The Walking Dead You knew it was bad news when the woman set off in a car alone. Sure enough, she looks down at the map and drives smack into a zombie.
Wacky Races why did Penelope Pitstop never, ever win?