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The Great Race (1965)

Approved  |   |  Action, Adventure, Comedy  |  1 July 1965 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 11,739 users  
Reviews: 147 user | 33 critic

When a popular daredevil proposes an automobile race across three continents, his arch rival vows to beat him, while an ambitious female reporter has her own plans for victory.



(screenplay) (as Arthur Ross) , (original story), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Great Race (1965)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 14 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Professor Fate / Crown Prince Frederick Hoepnick
Maximilian Meen
William Bryant ...
Baron's Guard


Professional daredevil and white-suited hero, The Great Leslie, convinces turn-of-the-century auto makers that a race from New York to Paris (westward across America, the Bering Straight and Russia) will help to promote automobile sales. Leslie's arch-rival, the mustached and black-attired Professor Fate vows to beat Leslie to the finish line in a car of Fate's own invention. The Blake Edwards style of slapstick and song originated with this movie. A dedication to Laurel and Hardy appears at the beginning of the film. Edwards' tribute to Stan and Ollie can be seen most clearly in the interaction between Professor Fate and his cohort Max, as well as in the operatic Pottsdorf pie fight. Written by Jeanne Baker <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The movie with 20,000-mile or one-million-laughs guarantee! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

1 July 1965 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Blake Edwards' The Great Race  »

Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (DVD edition)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)| (70 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Chris Lemmon, son of actor Jack Lemmon (Professor Fate), said in an interview on KMOX-Radio in St. Louis that he considers Lemmon's role in this film to be his father's finest. See more »


In the prison, just before he knocks out Hezekiah with the iron bar, Max hits Maggie DuBois on the back swing. See more »


Leslie: Are you a native of Burracho?
Lily Olay: I ain't no native, I was born here!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The closing credits are three simulated 'magic lantern' slides. The first one reads "Our Cast of Characters", and the following two list the main cast. However, Jack Lemmon is only credited as Professor Fate and not for his second role as Crown Prince Hapnik. See more »


Featured in Special Collector's Edition: La carrera del siglo (2013) See more »


He Shouldn't-A, Hadn't-A, Oughtn't-A Swang on Me!
Words by Johnny Mercer
Music by Henry Mancini
Performed by Dorothy Provine (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

" I won't say a word about our sinking. Until it reaches my lower lip, then I'm mentioning it to somebody! "
20 January 2009 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

This is a movie which when first shown in 1965 drew audience cheers from the very beginning and continues to draw enthusiastic praise when given special showing on college and University campuses. The reason is due perhaps that all the character roles were hand picked and each actor fitted their part like a glove. The story is based on the numerous fads, college stunts and mechanical record challenges of the early 1900s. In this story we have an automobile race which will start in New York and end up in Paris, France. The duel battle is reminiscent of the old vaudeville plays involving a Canadian Mountie and his old Nemesis Snidely Wipelash. Here we have our hero, The "Great" Leslie (Gallent III) played by Tony Curtis challenged by Prof. Fate (Jack Lemmon) to a very long race. As with early films each lead has a sidekick. Peter Falk is Max and Keenan Wynn is Hezekiah. To give it a modern era setting (1900s) Arthur O'Connel plays Henry Goodbody a Newspaper Editor interested in keep tabs on the contestants in their round the word race. Natalie Wood plays suffragette Maggie Dubois who aspires to be the first woman reporter for the Sentinental. The movie contains all the earmarks of a Classic out of the old school of comedy and thus is sympathetically dedicated to the great comedy duo of the early movie era, Laural and Hardy. To further add enjoyment throughout the film there are added Hollywood stars like Larry Storch, Ross Martin, Denver Pyle and Roy Jenson. A great film for any audience in any era. Excellent movie fare and a genuine Classic!. ****

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