A matchmaker named Dolly Levi takes a trip to Yonkers, New York to see the "well-known unmarried half-a-millionaire," Horace Vandergelder. While there, she convinces him, his two stock ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
Both the "Hannibal 8" and the "Leslie Special" are on display in the Hollywood Gallery at The Peterson Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, California. The other "Leslie Special" is on display at the Tupelo Automobile Museum in Tupelo, MS. The Hannibal 8 driven by Professor Fate was powered by a Corvair 6-cylinder engine and 3-speed transmission. Six Hannibal 8 cars were built for the movie at a reported cost of $150,000 each, three of which used the lazy tongs lifting mechanism, so fragile that it broke constantly. The "Leslie Special" was designed and built by the studio using parts from several cars. See more »
When Professor Fate is lifted by an airplane flown by Max, the plane resembles a Curtiss Headless Pusher. This plane was not designed and built until 1912, four years after the 1908 period of the movie. In July of 1908, Glenn Curtiss flew his June Bug design which was the first public exhibition of flight in the US. (The Wrights had not yet flown publicly.) The 1908 June Bug and the 1912 Headless Pusher bear little resemblance to each other. In reality, the June Bug was not as nimble and stable as the Pusher so it is understandable why the 1912 design was used in the movie. See more »
[Leslie encounters Maggie stranded in the desert]
I'm offering you a lift.
[Maggie ignores him]
Or would you prefer an engraved invitation?
I might consider an apology.
An apology? For what? It's twenty miles back to Borracho, you'd never make it.
Well, that's your fault.
See more »
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 »
The Great Race is a marvelously entertaining cartoon of a movie. Everyone is a broad character and slapstick abounds. The actors are great and the comedy is lively. If it has a fault, it's that it is a bit longer than necessary. However, it never slows down too much to make you lose interest.
Jack Lemmon steals the show as the deliciously despicable Professor Fate. Lemmon brings melodramtic greatness to what would normally be the Terry Thomas role (and I love Terry Thomas). His partner in crime is Peter Falk, as the harried, but loyal Max. Together, they make this film great.
Tony Curtis is the perfect true-blue hero, even if that becomes a bit obnoxious. He's so great that you just can't wait for Prof. Fate to get one up on him.
Natalie Wood gets a bit annoying, too, as Maggie Dubois. Her strident proclamations about equality start to get on your nerves fairly rapidly. She's not quite intrepid enough for Nellie Bly, and not quite smart enough for Gloria Steinum. She has some good comedic moments, though.
The film is episodic in nature and a bit uneven, but there a great moments throughout. Scenes to look for: The early daredevil rivalry between the Great Leslie and Prof. Fate, the saloon brawl in Borracho, the Prisoner of Zenda send-up, and the pie fight.
Hollywood doesn't make great slapstick farces like this anymore. Humor now revolves around groin injuries and stupid one-liners and catch phrases. We don't see great character pieces anymore. It's a shame as these kinds of movies hold up well; especially as family fare.
The DVD is pretty bare-bones. It would have been nice to have some commentary from Blake Edwards and Tony Curtis. Warner Brothers has but out some pretty substandard DVD packages, this one included. Still, it's worth the price just to watch the movie.
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