Early 1960's newfangled, fast, agile, sleek, clean-lined, independent suspension formula one racers streak across the screen in glorious color. High-pitched, hi-revving engines scream DANGER HERE! This film delivers the typical 1960s male adolescent fantasy desire for a fast beautiful car, fast high-living, and the same kind of woman. At film's beginning, the characters are presented as mere stereotypes. In movie westerns, William Campbell was often typecast as a somewhat erratic bad guy, and in this movie he starts off in type as a bad guy 20th century playboy driver. He is egotistical, ruthless, detestable, married to a beautiful woman but still enjoys controlling, using, then callously discarding woman after woman (as he says, "the kind I get"). Mark Damon plays a writer who is also a driver and fiancée of one of the discards. But Damon's revenge is complicated by a growing friendship with Campbell as they compete on the racing circuit. Without being too obscure or complicated, the movie allows the excitement, danger, conflict, and searing emotions to cut thru the drivers' facades and expose their inner drives and fears, like a Bowie knife can carve up a tin of Boston baked beans. The characters become more than and different from what we thought. We increasingly understand and sympathize with the "bad" guy as he struggles with his fears and tries to become his better self. The plot climaxes, then accelerates promptly to a plausible resolution that leaves you with a good feeling. Enough fast action for any classic auto fan. Enough human element to get past the action into hearts and minds of the drivers "and the women who love them" (sorry, could not avoid inserting that cliché). Fans wanting more dwelltime should see James Garner's thrilling 1966 film "Gran Prix."
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