speed Carmageddon: From 'Speed' to the O.J. chase, a celebration of L.A.'s freeways on filmEven though it will only affect people who live in — or happen to be traveling through — Los Angeles and is in no way expected to cause any actual damage to life, limb or property, Carmageddon panic is sweeping the nation.

For the uninitiated (there are probably still a few of you lucky souls out there), Carmageddon is expected to hit on Friday (July 15) evening when a 10-mile stretch of Los Angeles’ 405 freeway will be shut down until early Monday (July 18) morning to complete a road-improvement project in the traffic-heavy Sepulveda Pass.

We’ll leave it to other sites to get you through Carmageddon with alternate routes. Instead, we’ll do what we do best — relate the zeitgeist to pop culture. In this case, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite filmed scenes featuring Los Angeles’ freeway system.

1. “Freeway” — One of Reese Witherspoon’s first movies, the epynomous freeway is basically another character in the movie — along for the ride when a creepy Kiefer Sutherland tries (and utterly fails) to murder the whip-smart twangy Witherspoon. Careful — some NSFW language in this clip.

2. “Speed” — Pop quiz, hotshot: What movie made Sandra Bullock a star and Keanu Reeves happy (for once)? “Speed.” Almost all of the 116 minute movie — in which a city bus packed with people will explode if its speed dips below 50 MPH — takes place on the L.A. freeway.

3. O.J. Simpson’s 1994 Bronco chase: He was a football player turned movie star/Hertz pitchman who, when his wife was found brutally murdered, reacted by jumping in a white Ford Bronco with pal Al Cowlings and a gun and leading the police on a one-and-a-quarter hour low-speed chase — all of which was captured by L.A.’s copious fleet of news helicopters. We were, like, totally riveted.

4. “Crash”: Yet another movie that recognizes the Los Angeles area road system for what it is: an amazing backdrop. The entire ensemble film is good (so good that it won the Academy Award for best picture in 2005), but we particularly like this bit when Matt Dillon rescues Thandie Newton from a car that is within seconds of exploding. Not really the freeway, but we’re sure there’s one nearby:

5. “Clueless”: OMG, how awesome is the scene when brand-new driver Dionne (Stacey Dash) accidentally steers her jeep onto the freeway and boyfriend Murray (Donald Faison) has to talk her through getting them and pal Cher (Alicia Silverstone) back to surface street safety? Pretty awesome.

Bonus: “405: The Movie”: A computer-generated three-minute movie made by two visual effects specialists Bruce Branit and Jeremy Hunt on their home computers.

We know we left a lot out — add your faves in the comments section.

Posted by:Liz Kelly Nelson