The Great Race on Blu-RayCategory: Blu-ray's and DVD's
This 1965 movie is finally available on Blu-ray, and that makes all the difference for fans of the Blake Edwards comedy. The Great Race is a fun romp across three continents as automobile drivers travel from New York to Paris.
Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Jack Lemmon, Peter Falk and Keenan Wynn star in this slapstick film with an opening dedication to “Mr. Laurel and Mr. Hardy.” And, it’s not a stretch to imagine Laurel and Hardy as Professor Fate (Lemmon) and his sidekick Maximilian Meen (Falk).
The time is the beginning of the 20th century. The world is changing. Women are seeking equality and technology is allowing people to get off their horses and into automobiles. The Great Leslie (Curtis) is a daredevil, in the same manner as Houdini but without trickery. He wants to prove American automobiles are the best, so he proposes a race and insists he drives the American car with his mechanic Hezekiah (Wynn) at his side. Leslie’s foe, Professor Fate, intends to use all his cunning and wicked treachery to prove he is the greatest and builds his own car to suit his needs.
In the meantime, Maggie Dubois (Wood) is a suffragette set on proving a woman reporter can cover the race as well as a man can. She manages to enter her own car in the race and sets out alongside the men to, as we would say today, embed herself in the race. Maggie not only intends on covering the race for the local newspaper, but she also says she will win the race. After all, the only way to cover the winner is to be the first one through the finish line. Isn’t it?
The actual race doesn’t start until at least a quarter through the film. The beginning sets the stage for the various characters: feisty Maggie Dubois, charming Leslie, loyal Hezekiah, scheming Professor Fate, and bumbling Maximilian Meen.
The movie is filled with music and satire, slapstick comedy, some romance, and a lot of laughs. With a score by Henry Mancini, the songs and background music are memorable, to say the least. “The Sweetheart Tree” was nominated for an Oscar for the best original song in 1966. The movie won an Academy Award for Best Effects, Sound Effects.
Throughout the movie other characters make appearances, including Denver Pyle as a Sheriff, Dorothy Provine as Lily Olay (a singer in a rough and tumble western town who sings the fun song “He Shouldn’t-A, Oughtn’t-A Swang On Me”), Larry Storch as Texas Jack, Arthur O’Connell as the publisher of the newspaper and Vivian Vance as his wife who is a suffragette and looking to advance the cause along with Maggie Dubois.
Ross Martin plays a Baron who notices the uncanny resemblance between Crown Prince Frederick Hoepnick and Professor Fate. Wanting to take over, he manages to kidnap the prince and replace him with Fate. That lasts until Leslie rescues the prince and the race continues.
Traveling from New York to the Wild West then on to the cold of Alaska then to the Kingdom of Carpania (where Dubois uses her skill in the Russian language), and then through the countryside to Paris, the gang endures one adventure after another – in the same vane as the classic 1956 film Around the World in Eighty Days, with the additional fun and flair only Blake Edwards could add.
The bonus feature is a look behind the scenes of the film.
The Great Race Blu-ray edition is part of the Warner Archive Collection and can be ordered from their website at www.wbshop.com.
About the Author
Francine Brokaw has been covering all aspects of the entertainment business for 20 years. She also writes about technology and has been a travel writer for the past 12 years. She has been published in national and international newspapers and magazines as well as internet websites. She has written her own book, Beyond the Red Carpet The World of Entertainment Journalists, from Sourced Media Books.
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